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What to Do When You Can't Get It up by Jake Austin

The first time I couldn’t get hard during sex, I did my best to play it cool. But on the inside, I could feel my panic rising. I had no idea what to do. I hadn’t planned for my dick to fly at half-mast and I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with it when it was soft.


So, I went in auto-pilot mode. I kept having sex the way I normally would when I’m erect - except I barely managed to get any of my stiffness back. Even calling it a chubby would be generous. 

Needless to say, it created an extremely awkward situation. My partner could tell I was penetrating her while I was still soft. I was aware of that, but I still didn’t mention. It’s as if I thought calling attention to my flaccid dick would somehow make the situation more uncomfortable.  

I fell into one of the mistakes guys make when they can’t get it up - pretending it’s not happening.

Another common reaction is getting upset or frustrated. That’s not any better. It usually ends with you calling it quits before you or your partner gets to have an orgasm - or much fun at all.  

Thankfully, there are better ways to handle the situation. Going soft doesn’t mean sex has to end, but it does mean sex probably can’t proceed the way it normally does. 


There are plenty of reasons you might struggle to achieve or maintain an erection during sex. For me, it was a bout of anxiety. I was weighed down by a pile of stress and I couldn’t shake it, even during sex. For others, it can be anything from having one drink too many, taking medication with sexual side effects, to feeling overwhelmingly nervous during your first threesome. 

Regardless of the reason, you don’t need a hard-on to have an extremely pleasurable night.

Change Your Mindset

When you can’t stay stiff, your first instinct might be to panic or get frustrated (mine was). But that’s just going to make things worse. Not only will it keep you from enjoying yourself (and what is sex for if not enjoying yourself?) but all that additional stress you’re placing on yourself can actually reduce your chances of regaining your erection.

Instead of thinking of your softie as an insurmountable problem, try to look at it like an obstacle that challenges you to think on your feet.
Instead of feeling discouraged, go into problem-solving mode. You can start asking yourself questions like “How can I keep sex fun and exciting without being hard?” or “How can we both still get off without any penetration?”

Show Your Partner Your Other Skills

Penetrative sex is great, but manual and oral sex are nothing to scoff at. If you can’t use your dick, you can more than make up for it by using your fingers and mouth. 

That might feel like a compromise, but I assure you that it’s not. Your partner will be completely satisfied no matter how you bring them to orgasm. 


If you’re not convinced, just think of how you would feel if you were on the receiving end of the same scenario. If your partner offered you a blowjob to completion instead of penetrative sex, I’m willing to bet you would enjoy it without any regret whatsoever.

Your fingers and tongue are more than good enough. Don’t hesitate to make use of them when you can’t use your penis to get your partner off. 

Break Out the Sex Toys and Bondage Gear

Using sex toys is another great way to take the emphasis off penetration. 

If your partner has vibrators, dildos, butt plugs, or any other toy they’re really into, ask them if they’d like you to use one (or more!) on them.

If erectile struggles happen regularly, you can also consider buying a hollow strap-on. You can wear one while soft and use it to have penetrative sex. It will obviously feel quite different to you but your partner will get an experience that’s similar to the real thing. 


If you and your partner have a kinky side, this is also a great opportunity to make use of some bondage gear like restraints and cuffs. Tying your partner down creates a power dynamic that takes the focus away from your sexual stimulation and encourages you to find ways to get sexual gratification without banging away. 

Masturbate Together

Because my partner has a lower sex drive than mine, I often masturbate with her. It’s a way for us to still enjoy some physical intimacy, even when we’re not touching each other. 

It’s very hot and surprisingly satisfying. And it can be a great way to cap off sex if you can’t reach a climax the way you normally would. 

If you can’t rely on penetration to achieve an orgasm, you can give one to yourself while watching your partner pleasure themselves and listening to all the arousing sounds they make while they’re doing it. 

If you have trouble reaching a climax without an erection, I recommend trying the Hot Octopuss Pulse Duo. It’s a sex toy that delivers pulsing sensations to your frenulum (that highly sensitive part on the underside of your penis) and is designed to bring you to completion regardless of whether you’re stiff or not. It’s highly pleasurable and does things to you that your hand never could, so it’s lots of fun to play with even if you don’t strictly need it. 


Make Your Needs and Desires Clear

If you’re not sure how to proceed when you can’t get it up, your partner probably has even less of an idea of what they should do.

Even if they know exactly how to pleasure you when you’re hard, that doesn’t mean they’ll know how to give you pleasure and make you come when you’re not. 

And your pleasure matters, so be clear about what you still want to do and what you’d rather not.

Let them know if you want your penis touched and stroked or if you think you’d be too sensitive to enjoy it. If you would still enjoy blowjobs, you can mention that too. If prostate play would be a good way to hit your climax instead, bring it up. 

And if you’d rather finish yourself off, that’s perfectly fine. Just be clear about how you want to proceed so your partner knows what to do and what to expect. 

Keep Your Cool and Have a Hot Time

Depending on what caused them in the first place, taking a calm and open approach to erectile issues can sometimes correct them. Relieving some of the stress, pressure, and performance anxiety that can come from not having a raging hard-on the moment your underwear comes off might be all it takes to get the blood rushing back to your dick and give it a second wind. 

But even if you don’t, it’s honestly not a big deal. With good communication and the right mindset, you and your partner can both have great sex no matter how your penis behaves. 


Author Bio: 

Jake Austin is a writer, editor, wife guy, and the co-host of Pillow Talk With Emma Austin, a dirty and intimate sex podcast. 

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