Ask the Sexpert
Erection Gets Soft
Dear Dr. Klein,
Sometimes when my husband and I are having sex for a long time, his penis gets soft. How can I help him keep it hard the whole time?
There are a few assumptions here that may be undermining your sexual satisfaction. I'd like to discuss them as a way of addressing the question you've asked. Your first assumption is that a penis should stay hard throughout a sexual encounter. Most men and women find that their arousal rises and falls during sex, especially if sex lasts more than just a few moments. It's understandable: our mind may wander, the intensity of stimulation may vary, what we want from sex can change from minute to minute. For example, an erection may go down while a man gives extra attention to his partner's pleasure for a while.
Many men over 50 can no longer stay hard for 20 or 30 minutes at a time; some can do so on one occasion but not another. And medications like anti-hypertensives and anti-depressants may also compromise erections. And although your husband may not discuss it, soreness or pain--in his penis, back, neck, or knees--may also affect his erection after extended lovemaking.
Your second assumption is that it's desirable to maintain an erection for a long time. When your husband's penis gets soft, that's the time to do things other than intercourse: kissing, caressing, oral sex, maybe even a sip of water, trip to the bathroom, or reading a raunchy story together.
What's your husband's attitude about the situation? He may feel just fine about the way his penis behaves; many women don't understand that most men can enjoy sex deeply while they are only semi-erect. If he's studying the incredible curve of your neck or inhaling your fantastic scent, he may not even know his erection has gone down somewhat. In any case, sexually experienced men generally know that their erections ebb and flow during long sessions of lovemaking.
But if his self-esteem goes down along with his erection, that's a problem. If he feels pressured by you to keep it up, that's a problem. If the two of you turn away from each other in disappointment, embarrassment, or resentment, that's a problem. And if his or your emotions are preventing you from getting the stimulation you'd like when his erection goes down, that's also a problem.
The solution to all of these is conversation. In general, when either partner's arousal declines, that's the time for more connection, not less. For most lovers, staying connected is more important than the rise and fall of arousal.
So how can you "help him keep it hard" over long periods of time? Maybe you can't. Maybe you don't need to. And therefore maybe you shouldn't. But if you're going to, do it as part of a team, not as a rescue party of one. Talk to your teammate and discover, with him, what's wonderful.
~Dr. Marty Klein