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Do You Have to Be Hard to Cum?

Normally, boners and ejaculate go hand-in-hand. But as it turns out, there are plenty of ways to cum without ever sprouting a hard-on

In a recent conversation with my mother, we discussed the breadth of topics I usually write about. One of them, of course, is dicks. “Surely you’ve said pretty much everything there is to say about them at this point,” she told me. I’m sorry, mom, but you’re wrong. Because no matter how much she and others might think that, someone always asks a new question relating to penises that leaves me absolutely flabbergasted. 

Today, I address one of those questions: Is it possible to cum without being hard?

Frankly, it’s a question that challenges the fundamentals of human nature. It’s almost metaphysical. If a penis ejaculates without an erection and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

In any case, the answer is yes — it’s possible to cum without being hard. In fact, the actual mechanisms for getting an erection and having an orgasm aren’t dependent upon each other at all. Erections are the result of the muscles and membranes of your penis responding to mental and physical stimulation. Ejaculations, meanwhile, are a product of your nervous system. 

Usually, erections and ejaculations go hand-in-hand because of how the body responds to excitement. A “healthy” penis will become erect via stimulation, which causes the blood vessels in it to expand and fill with more blood. As stimulation continues, the nervous system eventually triggers an orgasm as a reflexive response to said excitement. But again, technically, all your body needs to ejaculate are contractions from the vas deferens and the muscles at the base of the penis, as well as the will to do so. Boners are just a bonus. 

For that reason, it’s possible to bypass them entirely. Someone who’s not physically capable of developing an erection or is otherwise restricted from doing so (e.g., they’re wearing a chastity cage) can still experience that same stimulation and excitement without their penis filling with blood. Your body doesn’t require an erection in order for the vas deferens and pelvic muscles to contract, and is capable of doing so even if the penis isn’t filled with blood. So yes, for all intents and purposes, a penis can cum without being hard. 

According to the people who have experienced an orgasm without a boner, it definitely still feels good, too. One guy on Reddit even told r/Sex that he preferred erectionless orgasms because they felt “more powerful.” There’s no concrete reason to believe that’s true for everyone, but there’s also no concrete reason to believe that erectionless orgasms feel any worse than regular ones, either. 

The problem for most, though, is that developing an erection can be unavoidable. Guys who like to ejaculate without boners say it takes careful practice, repeatedly masturbating until they can’t get hard anymore, or prostate stimulation to make it all work. Lots of the porn featuring people ejaculating without a boner focuses specifically on prostate play, probably because it can stimulate the buildup of prostatic fluid — a major component of semen — and because prostate orgasms can occur without penile stimulation at all. “I’ve been flacid and had a prostate orgasm,” wrote redditor Unusual-Session in r/ProstatePlay. “Whether your penis is hard or not, it doesn’t matter. Focus less on your penis and more on freeing your mind and letting your prostate wake up and let you feel wonderful.”

Meanwhile, cumming without an erection is a common part of chastity or other types of kinky play that involve the penis being restricted. In simple terms, a penis in a chastity cage doesn’t become erect because there’s no room for it to expand with blood. Still, one can be stimulated via their prostate, balls, nipples or even just mentally. “Many people incorrectly assume that chastity will prevent an orgasm,” reads the blog of the online chastity store Cuck in Chastity. “That is 100 percent  false. Even the best chastity cages can’t guarantee that.” 

The blog entry goes on to explain that having an orgasm while in chastity is hot because it can be humiliating: “If you’ve never cum in chastity before, you’re missing out big. It’s very humiliating and submissive. And best of all, the orgasm is fucking mind-blowing!” Allegedly, the tease and buildup that accompanies an orgasm in chastity — as well as the idea that you don’t need a big, hulking boner to cum, or that you’ve been “emasculated” because your penis has been constrained — can make it feel more intense. 

But humiliation and restriction doesn’t have to be part of the dynamic at all. For guys with erectile dysfunction, sex and pleasure can simply be a matter of figuring out what feels good without a boner — which can still be stimulation to the penis, just the same. There’s tons of sex advice out there geared toward couples experiencing erectile dysfunction that recommends “soft penis play,” often in the form of oral sex or hand jobs. It’s much of the usual stuff you might do with an erect penis, except it’s soft. People with erectile dysfunction can experience an orgasm this way, too. 

Regardless, it just goes to show that sexual enjoyment doesn’t begin or end with an erection. Even if many people lose the ability to have boners as often as they used to, orgasms aren’t off the table. It’s also possible to experience the pleasure of orgasm without producing any ejaculate, but I’m keeping that in my back pocket for the next time someone thinks I’ve already said everything there is to say about penises.