I’m excited to be answering another question from a devoted reader today. I received a message from one of my single heterosexual male readers who is experiencing premature ejaculation. He’s feeling ashamed about this and is hesitant to initiate sex with new partners because he’s worried that he won’t be able to satisfy them or that they will think he’s bad in bed. I thought a lot about this and I can offer several suggestions for dealing with premature ejaculation and the shame that comes with it.
What is premature ejaculation?
The International Society for Sexual Medicine has defined premature ejaculation as “ejaculation which occurs before or within one minute of penetration”. However, popular opinion suggests that a lot of men consider premature ejaculation to be “coming too soon”. For some, they feel that reaching orgasm well before their partner does, or sooner than they’d like, is premature ejaculation. So it seems that while perhaps many people don’t fall within the medical definition of premature ejaculation, their expectations of how long they “should” be able to last colours their perceptions of their sexual ability.
Why is it a problem?
There are a few reasons why premature ejaculation is seen as an obstacle to great sex. Firstly, there’s the idea that sex = penis in vagina. And so if the “P in V” part of sex doesn’t last long, or if both partners aren’t satisfied during intercourse then we think that the sex was bad. Secondly, we are constantly presented with sex scenes in movies and television shows where a couple having sex falls into bed, rolls around a little and then orgasms in unison. So when our sexual responses don’t synch up with our partner’s, we feel like we’ve done something wrong. And finally, a lot of the time premature ejaculation is the punchline of jokes in movies, so there’s this idea that men who come early are losers.
In actual fact though, premature ejaculation doesn’t have to be a barrier to awesome sex. The way I see it, a lot of the time men feel like they’ve come to early when their body’s performance doesn’t match their expectations of how long they should be able to last in bed. And so there are two ways to tackle this issue: either change the way your body performs or change your expectations (or a combination of the two).
Change the main event
A huge part of anxiety about premature ejaculation comes from the fear that once ejaculation happens sex is over and one party is left unsatisfied. To overcome this idea, try switching up your perceptions of what “sex” entails. It doesn’t have to just be about penis in vagina. Expand your definition to include oral sex, mutual masturbation, kissing, humping and exploration. Once you no longer consider “sex” to be just about penetration, the need to last longer becomes less important.
Get your timing right
It’s a well established fact that women usually take a lot longer to reach climax than men do. The physical process of arousal tends to take up to three times longer for women, and actually reaching orgasm can take even longer. If you know that you’re a bit of a quick-draw, try spending more time on your partner’s pleasure before you begin penetrative sex. Use mouths, fingers or toys to bring your partner close to orgasm before you start boning. Then, once she’s ready and close, you can begin P in V sex. This closes the orgasm gap, making it a lot more likely that you’ll come in close succession.
Some men have become conditioned to orgasm quickly from years of masturbating in secret, and trying to reach orgasm without getting caught. Just as we can train ourselves to speed up our sexual climax, it is possible to learn to slow it down.
One way to do this is with a technique called “edging”. To begin with, you want to masturbate on your own, ensuring that you have plenty of time and privacy. Masturbate until you are right on the edge of having an orgasm, and then stop touching yourself and breathe slowly until the intensity dies down. Then do it again, masturbate until you’re just about to come, then pull back from the edge. Do this a couple of times before you allow yourself to orgasm. And then try this exercise a couple of times a week. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t manage to stop in time, just try again later.
This exercise does two things. Firstly, it makes you aware of what your sexual response cycle looks like. It gives you a clear picture of the signs that you are about to orgasm. And then secondly, it allows you to practice recognising those signs and controlling your orgasm. So when you are having penetrative sex, you will be better at noticing that you’re about to come and be aware of how to control your climax. Over time, this can help slow down your climaxes, as well as building your confidence in your own ability.
Have a rehearsal before the main performance
Remember the part in There’s Something About Mary where Ben Stiller jerks off prior to his big first date? Well, silly as that scene was, it actually had a valuable point. If you know that you’re going to be having sex later, it can be very helpful to give yourself an orgasm before you leave for your date. Not only will you be more relaxed, but typically men come most quickly the first time they have an orgasm within a 12 hour period, with each subsequent orgasm taking a bit longer to be reached. Having an early orgasm by yourself can draw out your stamina for a sexual encounter later in the night.
Wrap your junk
Condoms are a great tool for prolonging your orgasms. Not only are they vital for safer sex, but they can dampen sensation so you don’t get too aroused too quickly. Choose a thicker condom such as Lifestyles Extra Strength to reduce sensation and help you last longer. Don’t be tempted to wear two condoms at once for this purpose. During sex the two layers can rub against each other and this friction can cause tearing.
Diffuse the shame
Think about the way you talk to yourself about your sexual performance. Instead of thinking about your propensity to come quickly as a deficit, try thinking of ways to view it more positively. You are sexually enthusiastic! You’re passionate and easily excited. Reframe the way you talk to yourself about your performance and change the way you feel about yourself.
Talk it out
If you’re anxious about having sex with a partner because you’re worried that you’ll orgasm quickly, the best thing you can do is talk to them about it. Shame, stress and fear all play a role in premature ejaculation, and studies have shown that these emotions can make it more likely that you’ll orgasm faster than you’d like to. Fears thrive in darkness, and one of the best ways to deal with them is to shine a light on them. If you’re feeling anxious, tell your partner that you feel nervous and awkward. Mention that you’re worried that you’ll orgasm quickly and that they’ll think less of you if you do. Believe me when I tell you that most partners won’t be fazed by the prospect of a speedy climax, and will be able to reassure you. Plus, you’ll be able to decide what to do if it does happen, so you won’t feel so nervous about the possibility of impending disaster between the sheets. Communication is vital for good sex, and talking through your fears will solve about 95% of them. Your partner will also be charmed by your willingness to be honest and vulnerable with them.
Premature ejaculation happens to most men at some point in their lives and it really isn’t that big a deal. But if you’re feeling anxious or ashamed about your rapid climaxes, there are plenty of things you can do. Be gentle with yourself, be honest with your partner, and find new ways to express yourself and make your sex life amazing regardless of how long you last in bed.