Welcome to Hump Day, TrèsSugar's sex advice column. Are you confused about sex? Do you have trouble having an orgasm? Is there something you'd like to try but you're worried it's too weird? Send your questions to TrèsSugar, and our friend Dr. Charlie Glickman from Good Vibrations will offer his sound advice!
"My boyfriend has premature ejaculation problems, and it's a little frustrating for me. As far as I know, he doesn't have any health problems. Is this psychological? Can I help him fix this?" To hear Dr. Glickman's response,
One of the challenges when talking about premature ejaculation is coming up with a common definition for it. Masters & Johnson defined it as when a man ejaculates before his (female) partner at least half of the time. Others have tried to define it as when he orgasms within two minutes of starting to have intercourse. That kind of definition works better in some ways, especially since many women don’t orgasm from intercourse. Ultimately, the “problem” of premature ejaculation rests on whether it causes concern for either person and since you’ve said that you’re finding it frustrating, that’s good enough for me.
There are a lot of potential causes of premature ejaculation, from the physical to the psychological. It can be caused by anxiety and stress, hormonal imbalances, prostate health issues, and relationship difficulties. With all of these possible reasons, some of which need a medical exam to detect, there’s no way for me to tell you what’s causing it for him. Having said that, there are some tips that I can offer you. Bear in mind that these assume that there aren’t any medical factors complicating the situation.
First off, anxiety is a common cause of both erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. Unfortunately, worrying about whether it’ll happen can make it happen, creating a self-fulfilling prediction. One of the best ways to address that is to widen your definition of what you consider sex and pleasure to be. If you can let go of the focus on intercourse and enjoy the buffet of sexual options, the worry tends to decrease. It can be really helpful to talk about how you might make that happen when you’re not having sex or just afterwards. If he’s feeling embarrassed about the situation, it’s probably going to be a lot easier to have the conversation when the clothes are still on.
Another factor that can influence when a guy ejaculates is what position he’s in. For many men, being on top seems to make him orgasm more quickly, while lying back and being straddled can make things last longer. While I’m not aware of any actual research on this, I’ve heard stories from enough men to suggest that you give it a try and see what happens.
Still another reason that some men ejaculate more quickly than they or their partners might like is that they don’t know how to work with their sexual energy. Modern tantra and other similar practices offer many men a lot of useful tools and tips for lasting longer. While this approach might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I think it’s worth looking into. Check out Mantak Chia’s book The Multi-Orgasmic Man for a really interesting and easy-to-read take on this. He also has a book for women and one for couples.
Also, some men report that one of the best ways to last longer is to be on the receiving end of a little more foreplay. Actually, I dislike the word “foreplay” since it implies that everything else is just a lead-up to “real sex.” But leaving that aside, many of us are familiar with the idea that lots of women prefer/enjoy/need some warm-up before intercourse. What you might not know is that a slower approach can be a great thing for lots of guys, too. Men’s sexual arousal isn’t just about getting an erection; ramping up can increase how much sexual energy he can maintain. Or to put it another way, just because some guys can hit the ground running doesn’t change the fact that a little warm-up makes it a lot easier. So try extending how much time you give oral sex, hand-jobs, kissing, whatever. It can help him relax and increase his arousal, both of which reduce anxiety and can make it easier for him to last longer.
To get to the last question that you ask, there are some things you can do to help him but he needs to be willing to deal with this situation in the first place. A lot of men feel ashamed of early ejaculation, even though a lot of men experience it, at least sometimes. One of the best things you can do is to talk about it with him at a time when you’re not having sex. Right after it happens is probably not ideal since he’s having whatever feelings this brings up for him. And yes, men have feelings, even when (or especially when) they don’t know how to show them!