Dear Rhonda,

Recently divorced, I find myself back in the dating world and having to use condoms for the first time in a long time. The problem is, every time we get started and the condom goes on, I lose my erection. Just pausing to put the condom on seems to affect my mojo, and once it’s on, I lose a lot of sensation. I don’t want to risk not using condoms, but I don’t know how to get there when I do. How can I get past this?

–Man Interrupted.

Dear Man Interrupted,

It is quite common for men to experience difficulties when they’re not used to using condoms. They feel different, they are a different texture and temperature when you first put them on, and they don’t move like skin-on-skin. There can also be a bit of a mental block when using them — sometimes worrying about the impact of wearing the condom is enough to make your fears reality. These are all things you can get past with a bit of practice.

Firstly, make sure you have the right size. A condom that is too large is going to slip off and not offer the right kind of friction. Too small, and they restrict blood flow and movement. You also risk the condom bursting. There are many condoms on the market, and it’s worth shopping around until you find one that fits comfortably and has a texture you like. Don’t rely your partner to provide condoms that are right for you, because what feels good for one person will feel off for someone else.

Secondly, practice. Not with your partner, when you’re attempting intercourse, but at home, on your own. Start masturbating with the condom on, and don’t cheat and take it off before you ejaculate. Your body needs to learn that it is only going to get release when the condom is in place. Be patient and stubborn. It might take a while, but you will get there. You can also use this time to try different condoms without the anxiety to perform.

Then when you are with your partner, put the condom on early. Don’t wait until you are about to enter him or her and all the pressure is on. For a lot of guys maintaining an erection is in the mind, not the body, and a change to your physical environment can cause your focus to switch abruptly. You become aware of the change in sensation, temperature, and the act itself. Putting the condom on early gives it a chance to heat up and mould to your body, gives you a chance to get used to the feel of it in place and forget about it for a while, and avoids the pause-and-package fumble at the critical moment. Don’t be afraid to talk to your partner about it, either.

Wearing condoms does feel different, but it can be a good different if you let it.

Good luck, stay safe, and have fun.

xx Rhonda

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