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Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013

Help For My Partner’s Erection Problems

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I’m a cis-lady sleeping with a cis-dude. [For readers unfamiliar with the terms cis- and cisgender, check out this brief definition: http://www.basicrights.org/uncategorized/trans-101-cisgender/. —Laura] My partner has real trouble getting and keeping an erection long enough for penetrative sex. We’ve talked about it, and he says that it’s not a big deal—it usually just takes some time for his body to get used to new partners (we’ve been sleeping together for about two months), and then erections aren’t a problem ever again. My question isn’t really about his peen problem. I like this guy, I don’t want to pressure him, he’s been really open and communicative about everything and we’ve both been getting off without sex. But, I really like penetrative sex, and would like to have it eventually. What are some fun ways to get us there? Are there toys we can buy to help out with his peen problems?

In my recent column about the film Unhung Hero, I wrote that I find it problematic that men’s sexuality is often reduced to the size and hardness of their penises and that “real sex” is often defined solely as penetrative sex—putting a penis into an orifice of some kind. These two constructs certainly put an enormous amount of pressure on guys. In general, I believe that most of us would be happier if we broadened our definitions of what good sex is, explored different types of sensual play and didn’t put all our sex eggs in one basket, so to speak.

But what happens if, after exploring different kinds of play (which you have), you just really, really like penetration? That’s fine, and there are plenty of ways to get there. In your situation, it sounds like the first way is being patient. Your partner doesn’t seem to define his erections (or lack thereof) as a problem, and he believes that he will be able to get erections when he’s with you eventually. Taking time to get to know each other might be the easiest way to have the type of sex you want, and perhaps also the way that’s most respectful of your partner’s understanding of his own sexuality.

You seem to have a different view of the situation than your partner, though—he might not see it as a problem, but you describe it that way three times in one paragraph. If you’re feeling anxious and want to try some penetrative sex while you’re waiting for his penis to adjust to the situation, incorporating dildos and insertable vibrators into your sex play is the most obvious solution. You say that he’s open and communicative about sex, so hopefully he’d be comfortable with this suggestion, and it can be a lot of fun to pick out a toy to use together.

Sometimes what people enjoy about penetrative sex are specific positions or the feeling of being penetrated by a partner, and if this is what you’re after, pairing a dildo with a harness designed for men could do the trick.

Some men who are able to get erections but have trouble maintaining them find that using cock rings can help. If getting an erection in the first place is difficult, using a penis pump can help draw blood into the penis (although—contrary to a lot of marketing claims—it is not going to permanently change the size or hardness of someone’s penis). If your partner finds using rings or pumps enjoyable, these can also be fun toys.

In short, as long as both of you are willing to talk, try new things and expand your ideas of what penetrative sex can be, I think you can have a great sexual relationship that respects both of your desires and limitations.

Laura Anne Stuart owns the Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee’s East Side. She has a master’s degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than fifteen years. Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXPress? Send them to laura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.