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How to Have Sex With ED: 7 Tips & Techniques

Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM

Reviewed by Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM

Written by Vanessa Gibbs

Published 08/18/2021

Updated 01/07/2024

Your penis gives off some serious Main Character Energy — both in and out of the bedroom. So when you have erectile dysfunction (ED) it can feel like your sex life is doomed.

But sex with ED is possible. 

You can: 

  • Be open with your partner

  • Master foreplay 

  • Use sex toys 

  • Explore other erogenous zones 

  • Talk to a therapist 

  • Try ED treatments 

  • Make healthy lifestyle changes 

Ahead, we’ll share how to have sex with ED and explore these pieces of advice in more detail.

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Yes, men with ED can have sex. 

Erectile dysfunction is when you can’t get or keep an erection suitable enough for satisfactory sex. That means your penis may not be hard enough to penetrate your partner — or you might be able to start having sex but go soft midway through the action.

Losing erections during sex or not being able to start in the first place can be distressing for both you and your partner. But that doesn’t mean sex is off the table completely.

You can get creative and have sex in different ways, and you can face the problem head-on and treat ED.

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Keep your sex life going, even with ED, with these seven tips. Some suggestions will help you continue having sex with erection problems, while others aim to fully address your ED.

Be Open With Your Partner

We know, we know. Talking to your partner about ED can feel as embarrassing as ED itself. But having an honest chat about what’s going on can make a difference in your sex life.

For one, stress and anxiety can make ED worse — and you’re probably feeling stressed and anxious about your ED. Talking with your partner can take some of the pressure off. 

It can feel embarrassing when a guy can’t get hard, but if you’re in a long-term relationship, your partner will understand. We promise. 

You can reassure them it’s not them and talk through ways to tackle the problem together. Turn it into a fun couple’s activity — maybe by browsing for new sex toys or trying new types of sex — to keep your sex life light and exciting.  

For more advice, check out our guide to dealing with ED in a relationship

Master Foreplay

There’s more to sex than penetration. Gasp.

If penetrative sex is proving tricky, focus on your foreplay game. 

Foreplay is anything before the “main event” of sexual intercourse. It can include sending flirty texts throughout the day, making out on the sofa before moving to the bedroom, nipple play, caressing, massaging and oral sex.

But really, there are no rules when it comes to foreplay — now’s the time to get creative with your partner.

Foreplay can make you aroused and help you keep a firm erection during sex. It can also be a prominent part of your sexual activity — not something you rush through. 

If you struggle with penetration or staying hard long enough, you can still enjoy sexy time together by spending longer on foreplay. 

There’s even research suggesting that giving oral sex is linked to a better relationship. 

A 2018 study found that older heterosexual couples with better relationship quality gave their partner oral sex more often than those with worse relationship quality. The link was there for both men and women, but it was stronger for men. 

The lesson? Going down on your partner may improve your relationship — and you don’t need an erection for that.

Not sure what to do? Here are some foreplay ideas to get you started. 

Use Sex Toys

You may have seen the bold claims online: Sex toys can cure ED!

They may not be that powerful — more research is definitely needed — but they can certainly help spice up your sex life if ED has put the fire out. 

Here are some options to consider: 

  • Penis sleeves. Penis sleeves are hollow sleeves you put on your penis during sex. They come in different shapes and sizes, and many feature added textural features like ribs. There’s not much research on these, but anecdotally, they’ve been shown to recreate the sensory experience of having penetrative sex, even if your penis isn’t doing the penetrating.

  • Penis rings. If you’ve never used a sex toy before, penis rings — also popularly known as “cock rings” — may be the most beginner-friendly. Penis rings are ring-shaped devices worn at the base of the penis during sex. The ring helps keep blood inside the penis, which can help men with ED stay hard. Check out our Standing O penis rings

  • Penis vibrators. Vibrators aren’t just for the ladies. They might help stimulate a man with erectile dysfunction. One review concluded that penile vibratory stimulation may improve erectile function in men with ED. Another paper indicated that penis vibrators could help men with ED get an erection, but more research is needed. Check out the OMG Ring penis vibrator to do your own study on the matter.

  • Prostate massagers. Prostate massagers do exactly what their name implies: massage the prostate. There’s not much research into whether they can help you get hard, but they can provide an alternative place to explore, either solo or with a partner. Check out our Thrill Ride prostate massager

  • Bullet vibrators. Got a female partner? Show her some love. Bullet vibrators are small vibrators designed for external use. Vibrator use has been linked to higher sexual desire in both men and women, and it may help people with anorgasmia (trouble reaching orgasm). Using a bullet as backup is just one way a man with erectile dysfunction can satisfy a woman. 

Learn more in our guide to sex toys for ED

Consider Other Erogenous Zones

When your penis isn’t playing ball, there are other erogenous zones to explore. Don’t neglect your neck, earlobes, nipples, testes, perineum and prostate. 

Spice up your sex life by stimulating these areas with toys or your partner’s hands or mouth — or even with different sex positions if ED allows. 

Remember to return the favor and explore new erogenous zones on your partner, too. 

Not feeling it? Check out our guide on how to get turned on.  

Talk to a Therapist

Erectile dysfunction can be caused by psychological or emotional issues like:

  • Fear of sexual failure or sexual performance anxiety

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Guilt about sexual performance or certain activities 

  • Low self-esteem

  • Stress 

The bad news is ED can cause some of these problems — hello, stress and sexual performance anxiety. But these problems can also make ED worse, creating a vicious circle.  

Talking to a therapist, either in person or online, can help. A therapist can talk through any mental health and well-being issues you might be struggling with and suggest helpful techniques or medication like antidepressants if needed.

You can also try sex therapy. A sex therapist can help you work through any sexual health issues that could be behind ED. 

Learn more about psychological ED in our blog. 

Choose your chew

Try ED Treatments

Most of the time, ED can be treated — and quite a few treatment options are available. No, we’re not talking about the herbal “supplements” sold in gas stations and sex shops.

Phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors — or PDE5 inhibitors — are a first-line treatment for ED. They work by increasing blood flow to your penis, helping you stay harder for longer.

FDA-approved PDE5 inhibitors include:  

Learn more in our guide to PDE5 inhibitors

We also offer erectile dysfunction medication in the form of chewable hard mints. These ED meds contain the active ingredients in the drugs Cialis, Levitra and Staxyn® at different dosages.

You’ll need a prescription to get ED medications, so speak to your primary care provider or a urologist. To skip the awkward IRL chat, consider an online consultation with a licensed healthcare provider.

Another medication for ED is alprostadil, which is an FDA-approved injectable medication. There is also a recently FDA-authorized, non-medicated topical gel for ED called Eroxon.

Beyond ED meds, you can get a vacuum erection device, which is placed over your penis and then pumped to draw blood to the area.

There are also surgical treatments for erectile dysfunction, but these are usually reserved for those who can’t take or don’t react well to ED drugs. 

Create Healthy Lifestyle Habits

ED can be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle — or the health problems an unhealthy lifestyle can lead to. In any case, bad habits can make the problem harder to fix.

The good news is a few lifestyle adjustments might help you get hard

Try working on these common causes of ED: 

  • Quitting smoking

  • Cutting down on alcohol 

  • Quitting drugs 

  • Losing weight if you’re overweight

  • Exercising 

  • Eating a healthy diet (add these foods for virility to your grocery list) 

You can also speak to a healthcare provider to get tested for underlying medical conditions that may be behind your ED, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. A medical professional can also advise you on whether ED is a side effect of any medication you’re taking.

For more advice, check out our guide on how to maintain an erection.

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Not only can you have sex with ED, but you can have great sex! So don’t give up on your love life just because erections aren’t as easy to come by these days.

Here are the key things to keep in mind: 

  • Start with an honest chat. Talk to your partner about ED. Awkward? Maybe. Helpful? You betcha. Take the pressure off and discuss ways to tackle the problem together. 

  • Try mixing up your sex life. Experiment with new toys and erogenous zones, spend longer on foreplay and give more oral sex — your partner can thank us later.  

  • Remember, ED is treatable. ED treatments like Viagra, Cialis and sex therapy can help you get and maintain an erection.

ED isn’t a death sentence for your love life. We offer erectile dysfunction treatments and online therapy to help.

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  5. Wassersug, R., & Wibowo, E. (2017). Non-pharmacological and non-surgical strategies to promote sexual recovery for men with erectile dysfunction. Translational andrology and urology, 6(Suppl 5), S776–S794.
  6. What is a constriction ring? Why should one be used with caution? (n.d.).
  7. Rullo, J. E., Lorenz, T., Ziegelmann, M. J., Meihofer, L., Herbenick, D., & Faubion, S. S. (2018). Genital vibration for sexual function and enhancement: a review of evidence. Sexual and relationship therapy : journal of the British Association for Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 33(3), 263–274.
  8. Stein, M. J., Lin, H., & Wang, R. (2014). New advances in erectile technology. Therapeutic advances in urology, 6(1), 15–24.
  9. Rullo, J. E., Lorenz, T., Ziegelmann, M. J., Meihofer, L., Herbenick, D., & Faubion, S. S. (2018). Genital vibration for sexual function and enhancement: best practice recommendations for choosing and safely using a vibrator. Sexual and relationship therapy : journal of the British Association for Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 33(3), 275–285.
  10. Symptoms & Causes of Erectile Dysfunction. (n.d.).
  11. Dhaliwal, A., Gupta, M. (2023, April 10). PDE5 Inhibitors - StatPearls. NCBI.
  12. Yafi, F. A., Jenkins, L., Albersen, M., Corona, G., Isidori, A. M., Goldfarb, S., Maggi, M., Nelson, C. J., Parish, S., Salonia, A., Tan, R., Mulhall, J. P., & Hellstrom, W. J. (2016). Erectile dysfunction. Nature reviews. Disease primers, 2, 16003.
  13. Krzastek, S. C., Bopp, J., Smith, R. P., & Kovac, J. R. (2019). Recent advances in the understanding and management of erectile dysfunction. F1000Research, 8, F1000 Faculty Rev-102.
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.

Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM

Dr. Mike Bohl is a licensed physician, a Medical Advisor at Hims & Hers, and the Director of Scientific & Medical Content at a stealth biotech startup, where he is involved in pharmaceutical drug development. Prior to joining Hims & Hers, Dr. Bohl spent several years working in digital health, focusing on patient education. He has also worked in medical journalism for The Dr. Oz Show (receiving recognition for contributions from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences when the show won Outstanding Informative Talk Show at the 2016–2017 Daytime Emmy® Awards) and at Sharecare. He is a Medical Expert Board Member at Eat This, Not That! and a Board Member at International Veterinary Outreach.

Dr. Bohl obtained his Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Medicine from Brown University, his Master of Public Health from Columbia University, and his Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies—Journalism from Harvard University. He is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Healthcare Leadership at Cornell University. Dr. Bohl trained in internal medicine with a focus on community health at NYU Langone Health.

Dr. Bohl is Certified in Public Health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners, Medical Writer Certified by the American Medical Writers Association, a certified Editor in the Life Sciences by the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences, a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Nutrition Coach by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and a Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist by the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs. He has graduate certificates in Digital Storytelling and Marketing Management & Digital Strategy from Harvard Extension School and certificates in Business Law and Corporate Governance from Cornell Law School.

In addition to his written work, Dr. Bohl has experience creating medical segments for radio and producing patient education videos. He has also spent time conducting orthopedic and biomaterial research at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals of Cleveland and practicing clinically as a general practitioner on international medical aid projects with Medical Ministry International.

Dr. Bohl lives in Manhattan and enjoys biking, resistance training, sailing, scuba diving, skiing, tennis, and traveling. You can find Dr. Bohl on LinkedIn for more information.


  • Younesi, M., Knapik, D. M., Cumsky, J., Donmez, B. O., He, P., Islam, A., Learn, G., McClellan, P., Bohl, M., Gillespie, R. J., & Akkus, O. (2017). Effects of PDGF-BB delivery from heparinized collagen sutures on the healing of lacerated chicken flexor tendon in vivo. Acta biomaterialia, 63, 200–209.

  • Gebhart, J. J., Weinberg, D. S., Bohl, M. S., & Liu, R. W. (2016). Relationship between pelvic incidence and osteoarthritis of the hip. Bone & joint research, 5(2), 66–72.

  • Gebhart, J. J., Bohl, M. S., Weinberg, D. S., Cooperman, D. R., & Liu, R. W. (2015). Pelvic Incidence and Acetabular Version in Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis. Journal of pediatric orthopedics, 35(6), 565–570.

  • Islam, A., Bohl, M. S., Tsai, A. G., Younesi, M., Gillespie, R., & Akkus, O. (2015). Biomechanical evaluation of a novel suturing scheme for grafting load-bearing collagen scaffolds for rotator cuff repair. Clinical biomechanics (Bristol, Avon), 30(7), 669–675.

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