Yes, you can and should take safe-sex precautions even when you have erectile dysfunction. Here’s how to ease your anxiety while still protecting yourself from sexually transmitted diseases.
By Krisha McCoy, MS
Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
If you have erectile dysfunction, practicing safe sex may be the last thing on your mind. After all, the key to achieving, and keeping, an erection is maintaining gradual, consistent intimacy and stimulation. So you may think that taking the time to put on a condom could break the mood and cause you to lose your erection, or reduce sensation and trigger your erectile dysfunction. For some men, the anxiety associated with thinking about safe sex or putting on a condom while keeping an erection can be enough to trigger erectile dysfunction symptoms.
However, it’s important that you continue to practice safe sex for your overall health and well-being.
Safe Sex at Any Age
Erectile dysfunction is especially common in older men, and many older people think that avoiding a sexually transmitted disease is a young person’s problem. But safe sex is still an important issue for men with erectile dysfunction.
The fact is people of any age can become infected with a sexually transmitted disease, such as genital herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital warts, hepatitis B, syphilis, and HIV/AIDS.
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What’s more, some health care professionals believe that men who take medications for erectile dysfunction may be more likely than other men to participate in sexually risky behavior.
Protecting Yourself and Your Erection
The best way to avoid contracting a sexually transmitted disease is to use a condom every time you have sex. You need to have a full erection to put on a condom, so it is important to be prepared before you are in the moment to avoid scrambling to find a condom, spoiling the mood, and losing your erection.
Here are tips for putting on a condom without skipping a beat:
Keep condoms handy. When you start getting intimate with your partner, it is important to have a condom within arm’s reach. Keep condoms in your pocket, car, nightstand, bathroom, and any other locations you might need them.
Get educated. If you are not familiar with how to use condoms, learn the details before you actually need to use one. To put a condom on, squeeze out any air from the condom, unroll it over a fully erect penis, and then smooth out any wrinkles or air bubbles. If your condom does not have a reservoir tip, you should pinch the tip of the condom while you put it on to create a space where your ejaculate will collect.
Maintain stimulation. As you unwrap the condom and put it on, continue to stimulate your penis and stay focused on your sexual thoughts to help maintain your erection.
Make putting on a condom part of foreplay. Ask your partner to help you put on the condom, which can often help keep you both aroused.
Experiment with different types and brands. If sensation is an issue for you when you are using a condom, try different styles of condoms until you find one you and your partner like. For instance, try an “extra-sensitive” type, designed to heighten stimulation during sex.
If condom use and the anxiety surrounding safe sex make it difficult for you to achieve or maintain an erection, talk with your doctor. In some cases, sessions with a sex therapist can help reduce your anxiety and educate you about techniques to keep you stimulated.
Learn more in the Everyday Health Sexual Health Center.