If you’re to believe what you see in porn, the typical script for sex looks something like this: A man’s partner stimulates him until he has an erection, he penetrates his partner, he comes and loses his erection, then sex is over. Basically, the encounter is bookended by the appearance and disappearance of his erection. But in reality, great sex does not depend on a hard penis at all. Just ask the many people who are having a great time every day while their penises are soft.
“By extending what you do sexually and not focusing on penetrative sex, you will be surprised at what you can do when you are creative sexually,” says sexologist Marla Renee Stewart, MA, sexpert for Lovers sexual wellness brand and retailer. “If you are the lover of someone who is not having an erection, positive reinforcement on other sexual things about them can be used for encouragement.”
Here are some ideas for making intimacy fun when you can’t get an erection, have lost your erection, or just don’t want to focus on it.
Focus on giving pleasure
Table of Contents
Regardless of what’s happening with your penis, you do still have hands and a mouth. As Randall, a 34-year-old technology manager in New York who’s had a number of satisfying encounters with “whiskey dick,” puts it: “Use toys. Find that clit. Or if both are kinky, then the world is your oyster.” (More on that later.)
Focus on receiving pleasure
Believe it or not, experts say you can receive a lot of pleasure with no erection whatsoever. “Oral play and hand jobs can definitely be enjoyed by a receiver with a ‘soft-on,’” says Good Vibrations staff sexologist Carol Queen. “Using hands to pleasure a soft penis is way easier with lubricant and can resemble massage.”
It’s even possible to orgasm with a flaccid penis. “Erection and orgasm are governed by independent systems,” explains New York City sex therapist Stephen Snyder MD, author of Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long-Lasting Relationship. “If a man is legit psychologically aroused, then orgasm can still happen even if he doesn’t have an erection.”
“I’ve come while semi-soft before, and it’s weirdly intense,” says Jeff, a 30-something grad student in New England. “The orgasms weren’t explosive, but they were powerful.” Not to mention, it can be lots of fun to receive pleasure whether or not you climax.
Grind against your partner
The fact that your penis is soft doesn’t mean you can’t use it to give your partner pleasure. “After a certain partner used me all up, she would grind on me when I was soft after coming and come again herself,” recalls Quinn, 43. “She’d get on top, I’d hold her hips, and she’d press into me.”
Grinding your genitals against your partner’s is known as “frotting,” says Dr. Lee Phillips, psychotherapist and certified sex and couples therapist. It’s also sometimes called the “Florentine,” as it was known as a birth control technique in Florence, according to Snyder. It was recommended by sex researchers Masters and Johnson as part of their sensate focus technique so that people could see how their penises could bring their partners pleasure without pressure to get an erection. To pull this off, you can lie on your back and position your penis so that it’s pointed toward your belly, then your partner glides back and forth on top of it. “Some couples can both orgasm this way,” says Snyder.
Attempt penetration … but don’t be set on it
While an erection is definitely helpful for penetrating a partner, some people actually engage in penetration with a soft penis — something known as “stuffing,” according to Queen. “Rubbing the cock head up and down on the clitoris is a fabulous technique while you’re figuring out if you’ll manage penetration,” she says. “Lube will be a must, and in most cases, using the hands to help stuff is not only a must but adds to the fun.”
It can be challenging to achieve penetration without an erection, though, so don’t try too hard—no pun intended. This is one case where you may want to enjoy the journey rather than focusing on the destination.
When you open your mind to the world of kink, a whole slew of ways to enjoy sex sans erection presents itself to you, from impact play (spanking, flogging, etc.) to restraint (handcuffs, tying a partner up). Before engaging in any of these activities, it’s important to discuss where each person’s limits are and establish a safe word that someone can say to signal “stop.” One BDSM activity that accommodates a soft penis is chastity play, which sometimes involves a toy called a cock cage, Queen explains. Cock cages are toys that a penis fits into, and they’re meant to keep the penis soft until the partner who holds the key lets it out. If this is something you want to look into, be sure to get a toy with a comfortable fit and read up on cock cage safety.
Experiment with anal play
Although many of us may have been taught that the genitals are the epicenter of sexual pleasure, lots of people with penises experience arousal, pleasure, and even orgasm through anal stimulation—which does not require an erection. “The prostate gland is the G-spot in the penis owner’s body,” says Phillips. “When this gets penetrated, it can offer great pleasure. A partner can use their finger, dildo, or a vibrator.” Make sure, however, to use lube and go slowly, especially if you’re new to anal play.
If you want the experience of penetration without an erection, a toy like the Hot Octopuss Pulse Solo Interactive can vibrate around the penis whether it is hard or soft. “Most penis owners find it to be pleasurable,” says Phillips.
Another toy to bring in is a strap-on. That’s right: Those with penises can use strap-ons. “There are harnesses designed for people with penises, such as the Deuce Harness, so you can still enjoy penetrative sex with a soft penis,” says Stewart.
Involve the whole body
Keep in mind that your entire body can experience sexual pleasure; intimacy need not even involve below-the-belt touching. “Heavy make-out sessions can be erotic,” says Philips.
As Snyder puts it, “Good sex takes you somewhere special and makes you feel really good about yourself. Lots of foreplay meets that definition. Lots of penis-vagina intercourse doesn’t. It’s always a good idea to make sex a full-body activity rather than just narrowly focusing on getting his penis inside her vagina.”