The condom conundrum – and how to fix it!

Women of the world, you need to know something about guys, sex, and condoms: men are caught upon the horns of a dilemma – and it matters to you as much as us.

2016-10-21-12-18-18Background: I talk to a lot of women. It’s literally my job. And what I often hear from women who are participating in The Dating Scene is: guys hate condoms and will try to get out of wearing them.

That is fine if everyone is consenting and everyone is getting tested regularly for STIs. But that’s rarely the case and so there is general unhappiness and often bad behaviour.

This post is about trying to understand one of the (probably) multiple reasons that guys have an issue with condoms – and most importantly, what can be done to help. First off, many guys are just selfish and uneducated, they don’t perceive, or understand the risks of unprotected sex, they just want sex on their terms. I am not talking about them.

The specific issue I want to address is about sensitivity and maintaining an erection. Most men are literally in a no win situation here. If a man has a well balanced level of sensitivity that during unprotected sex allows him to go for as long as he and his partner desire, then it’s a safe bet that when he puts on a condom for protected sex, that he is going to have trouble maintaining an erection – and even achieving orgasm.

This is not his fault – it’s not even a failing. It’s a perfectly normal biological response. Male arousal is a constant act of balance (between staying hard and coming too quickly), one that is affected by myriad factors – and putting on, or taking off a condom throws that entire balancing act out of whack.

Now imagine going the other way: a man who can last happily wearing a condom, has sex with his partner without one. It’s like having the pleasure dial turned ALL THE WAY UP TO TEN. Condoms cut down the intensity of sensation. They also decrease the exquisite detail of sensation that comes from unprotected sex. That man isn’t going to last. He is going to orgasm in minutes, or even seconds.

Having lived with and overcome premature ejaculation, I can say from experience that you can’t just “adapt” to condoms one day, no condoms the next. Our arousal pattern and sexual response is a learned skill. One that is deeply tied up in things like self image, emotional and physical maturity, ego etc. Changing it takes time, effort, and usually help (ideally from a caring partner).

So there is the dilemma: if you are good with condoms, you will have trouble with unprotected sex. If you are chilled out and can savour unprotected sex, then condoms will be a nightmare of limp dick and disappointment all round. There is just no winning.

There is however a solution. The solution is that well known, but little understood friend of erectile dysfunction – Viagra (or one of it’s off label equivalents).

But say the name and men and women alike often get very uncomfortable… from “You can’t have sex with me without taking Viagra? Then you must not find me attractive”, to: “If I have to take it, that means I must be a failure – there is something wrong with me…”

Neither of these things are true, but we are talking about human psychology here. We are all slaves to our subconscious fears until we educate ourselves.

So, here’s a little background on Viagra:

  1. It’s not a magic pill that gives you an erection. What it does is allow you to sustain an erection more easily IF you can get one. So, if a guy isn’t turned on by the though of sex with a woman then Viagra or not, he will not get an erection. If he is aroused, then he will get a bigger, harder, longer lasting erection if he has taken it
  2. Because it increases the hardness of an erection, it also increases sensation and sensitivity (an excellent side effect if you have to use condoms!)
  3. It has side effects if you don’t use it correctly, like headaches (it’s a vaso-dilator, so take too big a dose on an empty stomach and it will basically give you a migraine headache), it can also cause elevated heart rate (again, vaso-dilator, so your heart has to work harder to keep your blood pressure up). Disturbed vision (people report getting a blue tinge to their eyesight as the blue light receptors in the eye ball become more responsive when blood flow in the retina is boosted). Like any medication, you really need to talk to your doctor about it and make sure that it is safe for you too take
  4. It’s pretty cheap now that the patent has expired
  5. It takes between half and one hour to take effect
  6. The dose (between 25mg and 100mg) will depend on your size and weight. If you are 80 kgs or so, then 50mg should be enough. Bigger or smaller, then adjust the dose accordingly
  7. Take it with food for slower, longer lasting effect and less chance of side-effects like migraine

You have probably already guessed where I am going with all of this, so here’s the “money shot”:

If you are having sex with a partner with condoms and he can’t keep an erection (possibly leading to bad behaviour and pressuring you to have unprotected sex when you are unsure about your respective STI statuses) then he may not just be a jerk. He may actually have a genuine issue that he doesn’t understand very well and is self-conscious or embarrassed about.

If that is the case, then you need to talk to him about Viagra. I know that this shouldn’t be your responsibility, but you can help turn a huge issue for both of you into a non-issue that gets everyone most of what they want, safely.

Needing to take Viagra can seem like a blow to the ego – for both men and women! But I have come to see it as being almost as essential a part of anyone’s “safer sex kit” as condoms. Why? Because just like good personal lubricant (I recommend Sylk) it makes it easier to use condoms effectively. And if they are easy to use, then they are more likely to be used.

I am not going to recommend that ladies keep their own personal stash of Viagra to give to partners – because it’s a prescription drug that should be used under medical supervision.

But I can say: ladies, if you have a partner who can’t keep an erection with a condom, then you should encourage him to see a GP and ask for Viagra, because practicing safe sex makes it difficult for him to keep an erection. GPs will love hearing that and will be more than happy to help him have good sex safely.

For any men reading this: if you carry condoms because you might have sex and are worried about keeping an erection, then get Viagra and carry both.

More importantly: if you don’t carry condoms, or refuse to use them because they feel bad, or you can’t keep an erection, then you seriously need to try Viagra. It’s not a magic solution, but it makes condoms perfectly acceptable to use, and it’s the sane, safe, sensible thing to do for your health and your partners.


4 thoughts on “The condom conundrum – and how to fix it!

  1. John – thanks for such a well written, sensible, practical and informative piece.
    I will tuck that information away. You never know, I might need it one day! ☺

    • Thank you Ingrid :-) Glad you liked it. It’s a genuine issue, especially as men get older. And I hate to think of the frustration and unhappiness that these issues create. Hopefully doing my bit to make things better.

  2. Great topic, and like Ingrid I will keep this article in the back of my mind it may come in handy one day.

  3. I’m glad you liked it. It’s a difficult subject – and an emotive one that tends to ride roughshod over the nuances of the problem. At the end of the day, if you want to change people’s behaviour in beneficial ways, then the best thing you can do is try to understand the bigger picture.

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