Sex & Relationships

Ask Joan: Worried about Hardness

Every month in Sex at Our Age, award-winning senior sexpert Joan Price answers your questions about everything from loss of desire to solo sex and partner issues. Nothing is out of bounds! To send your questions directly to Joan, email

My partner and I are 60 and really enjoy sex with each other. But my erection isn’t what it once was. I still get erect, but it’s not nearly as hard as it used to be. Remember the saying “bend a crowbar over it”? That used to be true. Now, it’s nowhere near that. It also does not last nearly as long as it used to, or as long as I’d like.

My partner has never complained, so it’s just me worrying here. I don’t know if she really doesn’t mind, or she’s trying to spare my feelings. But it seemed to feel so much better when it lasted longer and was hard as a titanium rod.

I’m not well endowed in length, about average, but girth is very good, from what I’ve been told. But now that my erection doesn’t seem as hard as it once was, the girth seems different to me, also.

I only take water pills and nothing else. I’ve tried the Viagra/ Cialis drugs, and even over the counter and infomercial products, and nothing seems to work. Any suggestions?

 –  Worried about Hardness 

Joan responds:

I’m glad you wrote, Worried, because yours is a common concern. It’s a normal part of the aging process that erections become less hard and don’t last as long. That’s not a deficiency. It’s an opportunity to experience sex differently and move your focus away from the hardness of your erection and towards the many ways you can give and receive sexual pleasure.

Though I doubt you ever had a truly crowbar-resistant, titanium-rod erection in your youth, I understand that it felt that way to you and was a source of pride and satisfaction. You mention your length and girth, but these attributes as well as the hardness of your erection aren’t relevant when it comes to enjoying sex and pleasing a partner lifelong. What matters most is opening up to the sensations you feel in your whole body as well as your penis and focusing on your partner’s pleasure.

You say your partner hasn’t complained – have you discussed your concerns with her? You might ask her, “I know my erections aren’t as hard as they used to be and don’t last as long. Does this limit your pleasure? What else can I do for you that you would enjoy?”

Your anxiety about your erection not lasting long enough probably gets in the way of full pleasure for both of you. Explore ways to bring your partner to orgasm before penetration, so that it doesn’t matter how long your erection lasts. Most women reach orgasm through clitoral stimulation anyway, and your hand and mouth are better at providing that than an erect penis.

Some women do get the kind of stimulation they need through intercourse. Again, the key is to talk to your partner. If intercourse is the way she reaches orgasm, here are some suggestions so it doesn’t matter how long your erection lasts:

  • Get her fully aroused through oral, manual, and/or vibrator stimulation before intercourse, so that she’s really ready for penetration as the finale.
  • Have her use a vibrator on her clitoris during intercourse to add extra sensation and speed her towards orgasm.
  • If she needs a longer time during penetration, have a dildo (penetrating sex toy which may or may not be phallic shaped) ready to take over if your erection flags.

I’ve talked about pleasing your partner, but what about you? You say you’d have more pleasure with a harder, longer-lasting erection. The PDE5 inhibitor drugs like Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis don’t work for you —they don’t work for many men. I hope you’ve brought your concerns to your doctor, in case there’s a medical reason that your erections are changing. Just as I’ve recommended discovering new ways to stimulate your partner, the same is true for stimulating you. Oral, manual, and vibrator stimulation can give you great pleasure, too.

Here’s a money-saving tip: None of the infomercial products will bring back youthful erections, so you can stop ordering those. If any of them worked, it would be front-page news instead of buried in late-night television ads.

Your erections at age 60 are not in competition with your erections at 20 or even 40. I think you’ll be happier if you stop looking for a product that will change how hard you get. Take your focus off your erection, and instead open your mind to new ways to enjoy pleasure and sensation. There’s much more to sex than a hard erection, and I know you’ll enjoy the journey once you start exploring.

Here are some helpful resources:     

Would you like to see more questions and answers? See all of Joan’s advice in Sex@Our Age.

Send Joan your questions by emailing All information is confidential. Joan can only answer questions that are chosen for publication.


Joan Price is the author of several books including “The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50” and the award-winning self-help book “Naked at Our Age.” Visit Joan’s  blog, “Naked at Our Age” and her Facebook page. For senior sex news, tips, event and webinar announcements, and special offers, join Joan’s mailing listView Joan’s new free webinar, “Safer Sex for Seniors.”




2 responses to “Ask Joan: Worried about Hardness

  1. In response to the gentleman having trouble keeping an erection and being
    hard enough, my doctor suggested I try a Cock Ring, I did, and it worked very
    well for me. They are available at sex toy stores

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