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Keeping the flow with a condom

Dear Alice,

I am involved in a relationship with a man I love very much. That's the good part. My problem is that, with my very limited sexual experience, I am worried that I am not satisfying him. Also, I find it next to impossible to achieve an orgasm after the "flow" has been interrupted by his putting on a condom. We have talked about this and he tells me just to do what is natural and everything will be fine. I have read something about the subject, but nothing seems to tell me how to keep the proverbial "flow" going. I know that each person is a different case, but do you have any general advice? I'd love to hear some.

— In love and determined

Dear In love and determined, 

With your partner's patience and reassurance and your determination, it appears that you have a great foundation in place for your developing sexual relationship. Like most experiences involving another person, sex usually takes some practice before you find your groove. 

Not every sexual encounter has to end in orgasm for the people involved. What's critical is that everyone feels loved, desired, cared for, and — if they want — have the opportunity for physical release. Some people find that prioritizing orgasms during sexual encounters may counterintuitively make it harder to achieve them because that emphasis may lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, or over-thinking — none of which are conducive to relaxing into the bodily experience! If you feel like this might be the case for you, you might consider switching your approach to one of experimentation into what feels good and brings pleasure to yourself and your partner. If that results in an orgasm, great! If not, that’s great too. If you find yourself worrying that your partner may not be satisfied, maybe consider asking them directly. Communication with a partner about what you like, what feels good, and about your erogenous zones often lead to better encounters and a more fulfilling sex life. You can experiment, be playful, talk with each other, and listen for shifts in moans, breathing, and expressions as well as words. 

Sexual play doesn't have to come to a complete halt when your partner puts on a condom. Some people enjoy incorporating the condom as part of foreplay. Have you considered having your partner put on the condom when he first gets erect and having all your sexual play with the condom on? How about putting the condom on your partner yourself, maintaining the sensuality that's been happening thus far? What if you continued touching yourself (or your partner) while the condom is being put on? There are limitless variations! 

A large aspect of being turned on, or keeping the flow, is in your mind. Rather than thinking of the condom, you may try focusing on the sensations that your body is experiencing — the tastes, the sounds, the heat of another body near yours, the sensation of touch between you and your partner. Don't be afraid to be more adventurous — relax and enjoy (as you keep the safer sex happening, too). For more information on maximizing your sexual satisfaction, you can visit the Go Ask Alice! Sexual & Reproductive Health archives. 

Here's to discovering how to keep the proverbial "flow" to achieve the proverbial "O!" 

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Last updated Oct 01, 2021
Originally published Feb 24, 1995

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