Premature and Delayed Ejaculation
Warning: explicit sexual language
Warning: please consult your health care professional if you have any questions about your sexual health and wellbeing.
Every situation is unique and it's outside of scope of this post to cover all possible issues, counter indications and medical concerns. This post in only informational in nature and is not intended as advice. Individual or couples counselling might be recommended.
Now let's get into it.
In one study, male college students were asked if they worry about ejaculating too early, and 95% said yes. That’s a lot!
We still routinely shame men and put so much pressure on them to be able to get an erection at a moment’s notice and maintain an erection “as long as needed”. We call them selfish lovers if they orgasm before their partner (which is not true at all). We believe something is wrong with men, and it becomes somehow their personal fault or flaw.
We all are aware that no woman should be ever shamed if she cannot have an orgasm, takes too long to orgasm, or orgasms too quickly. It’s her body and her orgasms. Then why we are not offering the same level of respect and understanding to men?
There are so many factors that will affect erections and ability to orgasm - psychological, relational, emotional, spiritual, mental, environmental.
We are talking about physical and mental health, medications and side effects, what’s going on in your relationship, what’s going on inside of your head when you are worried you might orgasm too soon, or not stay hard long enough, the pressure you put on yourself (trying to be a good guy) or the pressure you might feel from your partner (of course the more pressure you feel, the more likely it’s not going to be a very fulfilling experience), and stress (work related, financial, health, family, state of the world) . as well, your environment - kids next door, pets in the bedroom, even electronics or strong smells can throw someone off, if you are sensitive to it. The touch and stimulation you are getting. The list can go on.
I use the word 'sensitive' - and it brings us right back to pressure we put on men and how we judge them. The expectation is that nothing should bother them and they should be able to set everything aside. Imagine if we put the same pressure on women. How well would that work? Sadly, in many relationship there’s pressure and judgement about both partners.
What if we can reframe it all.
Let’s look at is this way. Imagine if there was an arousal scale and it goes from 0 to 100.
For a man, somewhere around 20-25 on the arousal scale you start getting hard. Many people mistake that as a sign that he’s ready, not realizing that he can get a lot more aroused.
Now imagine a bell curve of an ejaculatory threshold - once you are passed the threshold, you are going to ejaculate. You know it's going to happen and there's not much you can do to stop it. Point of no return.
For some men - that ejaculatory threshold can be really low, say only 30 - 35; for some - really high - maybe 90-95, and everyone else will be somewhere in between.
By the way, that’s exactly the same for women - some have a low orgasm threshold and may only take a minute or two to orgasm, while some have a very high threshold and it might take them an hour or more to orgasm. They say women take on average 25-30 minutes of direct clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm. Vibrator shortens that time in half (depending on a vibrator, depending on a person, of course). Men take on average 3-5 minutes of direct penile stimulation to reach orgasm.
So of course there’s already a huge difference between men and women, but there’s also a huge difference between individuals.
What we see in porn - men who appear to have a naturally very high threshold, can last a long time and often require intense, fast and forceful hand stimulation to ejaculate at the end. Not at all a reflection of what the norm is for most men (they also might be taking medication, or .... it's a movie, they can cut and paste and if ejaculation happened too early, or if someone lost an erection, they just cut the scene out. It's not that it doesn't' happen - it's that we DO NOT see it)
What about men who are extra sensitive and are born this way?
If you stat getting aroused at 20-25 and ejaculate at 30 - it’s going to take very little time, very little excitement, and very little energy to get there. It can be very disappointing - for both partners, especially so if both people believe that he “can” and “should” do better.
When we think it’s a “neurotic” problem, or psychological problem, that the man is immature or selfish - that’s a MYTH. "They just enjoy themselves and don’t care about their partner" - MYTH.
Sex can often be a very unfulfilling experience for men, and they definitely do worry about their partners. They often experience so much shame and guilt, it’s no wonder they might not want to talk about it - but it doesn’t come from a lack of care. If we think they could easily change it - that’s another myth. If that’s how you are born, with extra sensitivity and a low orgasm threshold - how easy can it be to change?
It’s unfair, it’s unjust, and emotionally very painful.
We also judge men who cannot ejaculate or orgasm with a partner, or take a long time. And again, so many reasons: aging, stress, medication side effects (often antidepressants or SRIs will have that effect). And for some men - it’s just a very high ejaculatory threshold. No problem, he’s not withholding anything from his partner, it’s not a form of control, and not a pathology. The challenge can be that the longer he takes, the more uncomfortable or even painful it becomes for his partner. For numerous reasons it can be painful for their hand, jaw or vagina. Then the partner starts feeling bad, and now we are in an emotional tangle.
The fact is there is no “right” amount of time or “normal” amount of time to reach orgasm.
Having said all that, there are a few things we can do to create a fulfilling intimate experiences for both partners.
- First of all, the shame and guilt has to go. Easier said than done, I get it. I get it. I wish I had an easy recipe for this. Our inner self talk is not going to be very kind when it comes to what we consider a “failure’ in bed. It’s NOT a failure. And as challenging as it is to change that belief, I can guarantee you that keeping it will only make things worse. How many people get better, when constantly told they are a failure?
- Enjoy your partner, your orgasms, enjoy touch, connection, play, intimacy. Be creative. When a thought of premature ejaculation becomes so painful, many people stop initiating sex and stop engaging in any form of sexual or non-sexual intimacy. That often creates a wedge between the partners and affects your self esteem, your well being, and definitely doesn’t make engaging sexually easier. Now there’s even more pressure, higher expectations and hope, and higher risk for disappointment.
- Reframe your idea of sex and shift from a linear to circular mode of sex (that’s a topic for a future post.) We define sex as something that requires intercourse and ends with an orgasm. Fewer than 30% of women reach orgasm from penetration alone, and if we focus on that as a goal - we are setting ourselves up for a failure. What else is possible? What would be fun, regardless if it included penetration or not, regardless of how or when or if you reached an orgasm? What could be fun whether your partner has an erection or not?
- Self pleasure - developing your relationship with your sexuality. Learn about your arousal scale and your thresholds. Some people can definitely learn to last longer through self practice, but not everyone. Some people do develop self pleasure patterns that cannot be replicated through intercourse. It becomes conditioning. Is it a problem? Only if it a problem for you and your partner. Learning to self pleasure in a way that resembles intercourse the most might help in this case.
Of course there are many other ways to explore this - from medication to learning how to orgasm without ejaculation, from solo to partnered practices. We want to explore the impact on you and your partner, we want to learn how to communicate - and that’s one thing that’s usually entirely lacking, we just don’t know how to take about it. But we can learn, and it can be freeing. Not easy. But worth it.