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Ejaculation without Erection: Why It Occurs & What to Do

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 02/09/2021

Updated 04/05/2024

Can a man ejaculate without an erection? Can an impotent man ejaculate? For guys who have been googling this question and other versions of it (we see a lot of “cum while soft” in search results), it can seem like a “weird” thing to imagine until you begin to learn about things like prostate orgasms and other ways for men to experience pleasure.

Yes, it’s possible to have an orgasm and ejaculate without an erection (sometimes called a flaccid ejaculation), which is great news for men in various circumstances. For others, however, orgasms and ejaculation without erection might be one of the unfortunate realities of having sex with ED.

Below we explain how orgasm without erection occurs, how erections and ejaculation work together and what to do if you’re experiencing ejaculation without erection as a problem that you’d like to make it go away.

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Can you ejaculate without an erection? Yes — surprisingly, ejaculations have less to do with erections than you might expect. 

Erections start with stimulation, both physical and mental. When you feel sexually aroused, your nervous system tells the muscles around your penis to relax, allowing blood to flow into the soft erectile tissue of your penis called the corpora cavernosa.

As blood flows into your penis, the tunica albuginea — a membrane surrounding the tissue of your penis — contracts, trapping the blood inside and helping you stay hard during foreplay and sex.

Here’s the thing: orgasms may be a simultaneous process, but they operate on a different system.

Unlike erections, which are controlled by the muscles and erectile tissue of your penis, orgasm and ejaculation are reflex actions controlled by your central nervous system. (This is why some men experience premature ejaculation, also known as PE, the most common of the ejaculation problems men experience).

When you’re sexually stimulated — like during penetrative sex or with manual stimulation from yourself or your partner — arousal and excitement gradually build and trigger your ejaculatory mechanism. 

But here’s what’s important to note: The ejaculatory mechanism can occur whether your penis is erect or flaccid. On the flipside, it’s also possible to get hard without often reaching orgasm, a condition known as anorgasmia.

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Ejaculation without erection can occur from prostate stimulation and non-penile sexual activity. However, it can also happen from penile stimulation if a man is experiencing erectile dysfunction or another sexual health issue. 

Men with prostate cancer, spinal cord damage, type 2 diabetes or other issues like heart disease may also experience sexual dysfunction. 

Penile stimulation may be the predominant activity of your sex life if you’re healthy. But sexual health issues — such as low testosterone or medical conditions affecting your blood vessels, like heart disease — can make sexual desire and sexual activity harder to do the way you’re used to.

Erectile dysfunction also can be caused by a variety of other factors, including physical health issues and psychological issues, such as sexual performance anxiety. This type of ED is, fittingly, referred to as psychological ED.

Medications can also possibly explain why you’re going soft. Antidepressants, for example, can lead to ED, which it’s why it’s always important to discuss possible side effects with a clinician.

If you’re asking, Why can’t I get a full erection?, know that it’s possible to reach orgasm and ejaculate through stimulation, either by yourself or with a partner. 

As it turns out, many men with ED are able to reach orgasm through sexual stimulation — even if they can only get a partial erection or no erection at all. In this case, the issue can be circumvented with oral sex or the use of a vibrator. Others may reach orgasm through anal penetration or stimulation, even with a flaccid penis.

In short, there are many ways you can orgasm and ejaculate without a hard-on.

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Since erectile dysfunction is almost always treatable, you have options. The most effective treatments for ED are FDA-approved medications, many of which fall into the category of PDE5 Inhibitors, as well as lifestyle changes and various different types of therapy.

Therapy and lifestyle changes may help you deal with the physical or psychological causes of ED. This can include performance anxiety, high blood pressure, poor diet and exercise habits, obesity and depression, among others. Depending on the cause in your situation, you may be able to turn to natural ways to improve and protect your erections.

That said, medication has been proven to be extremely effective, especially when used alongside therapy and lifestyle changes. Today, several medications are available to treat ED and help you stay hard during foreplay and sex, such as:

  • Sildenafil. Also known as generic Viagra®, sildenafil provides relief from ED for four to five hours per dose, although its effects have been known to last longer. It’s the main ingredient in our chewable ED meds hard mints.

  • Tadalafil. The active ingredient in Cialis®, tadalafil is a long-lasting medication that can provide relief from ED for up to 36 hours per dose.

  • Vardenafil. The active ingredient in Levitra®, vardenafil provides relief from ED for four to five hours per dose.

  • Avanafil. Available as Stendra®, avanafil is a newer, second-generation ED medication that’s fast-acting and less likely to cause certain side effects.

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Erectile dysfunction can be frustrating, especially when it happens again and again. But luckily, it’s often treatable.

Treating erectile dysfunction will help you stay hard during foreplay and sex, meaning you can ejaculate during penetrative sex rather than just by masturbation.

Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • It’s absolutely possible for men to ejaculate without an erection. Many do so for their own pleasure or as an alternative when health issues make normal sexual activity difficult.

  • Enjoying alternative means of achieving orgasm can be fun if that’s your goal. But if it’s your only option due to ED, you should seek treatment, whether that’s Viagra or one of the many alternatives to choose from. Sometimes, it’s as simple as addressing any health conditions you may have.

  • Various erectile dysfunction treatments are available to help you get things back on track if erectile dysfunction is your reason for flaccid ejaculation. A healthcare provider can give you medical advice tailored to your situation.

If you’re losing an erection during sex or seeing your erections last for less time than they used to, check out our guides on how to get hard and how to treat ED.

9 Sources

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.-e). Symptoms & causes of erectile dysfunction - NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/symptoms-causes.
  2. Crowdis M, Leslie SW, Nazir S. Premature Ejaculation. [Updated 2023 May 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546701/.
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.-a). Definition & Facts for erectile dysfunction - NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/definition-facts.
  4. Dhaliwal A, Gupta M. PDE5 Inhibitors. [Updated 2023 Apr 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK549843/.
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.-e). Treatment for erectile dysfunction - NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/treatment.
  6. Noviasky, J. A., Masood, A., & Lo, V. (2004). Tadalafil (Cialis) for erectile dysfunction. American family physician, 70(2), 359–360. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2004/0715/p359.html.
  7. Alwaal A, Breyer BN, Lue TF. Normal male sexual function: emphasis on orgasm and ejaculation. Fertil Steril. (2015). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4896089/
  8. Panchatsharam PK, Durland J, Zito PM. Physiology, Erection. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. (2023). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513278/
  9. Hess MJ, Hough S. Impact of spinal cord injury on sexuality: broad-based clinical practice intervention and practical application. J Spinal Cord Med. (2012). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3425877/
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown is a founding member of Posterity Health where she is Medical Director and leads strategy and design of their Digital Health Platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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