Sexual Health Q&A

What are condom-associated erection problems (CAEP)?

As the name suggests, condom-associated erection problems (CAEP) are erection issues men might experience due to condoms.

Often, such problems occur when condoms aren’t put on correctly or don’t fit well. A man might lose his erection as the condom is applied or during intercourse.

CAEP can make men anxious whenever they use condoms and the distraction could make the erection problems worse. In addition, men with CAEP may find that they don’t have the same sexual sensations when they use a condom.

However, CAEP can have more serious consequences, too. Couples may be less likely to use condoms – and have unprotected sex - if there are CAEP. Condoms can also slip and break, increasing the risk for unplanned pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections.

Sometimes, men with CAEP have erection difficulties even when they’re not using condoms. In August 2015, The Journal of Sexual Medicine published new research on younger men in this situation.

A team of American and British researchers asked 479 heterosexual men between the ages of 18 and 24 to answer questions about their erections and condom use. The participants also completed the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF), an assessment tool that can help doctors diagnose erectile dysfunction (ED).

Thirty-eight percent of the men had no issues with condoms or erections. About 14% had CAEP when putting on a condom. Another 16% said they had CAEP during intercourse. Thirty-two percent experienced CAEP when putting on the condom and during intercourse.

The researchers found that men who had any type of CAEP were more likely to have problems without condoms, too. These men also had greater odds of having mild to moderate ED.

Men who think they might have CAEP should see their healthcare provider, who can guide them on the correct use of condoms. Many men are never taught to do this properly and learn by trial and error. Seeing a doctor may relieve anxiety concerns, as well.