One thing I’ve learned over the years – both through my own experiences and from coaching others – is that men are all quivering bundles of anxieties and insecurities. We’re not allowed to actually, y’know, voice most of these concerns – goes against Man Code, after all – but we sure as hell feel them. And it’s that inability to actually voice our fears or anxieties that lets other people prey on them with snake-oil and horse shit. After all, why bother actually talking to somebody when you can try to solve the problem with placebos and “supplements” being hawked on late night television and delivered confidentially to your spam filter?
Not surprisingly, a lot of male anxieties revolve around sex and sexual performance. Masculinity, after all, is defined in no small part by one’s sexual ability and should you fail in that department… well, shitfire son, you’re just not really a man, are you? This is especially true when it comes to sexual endurance. Men dread being the two-pump chump or Missy Elliot’s “One Minute Man” and the invisible fist of the free market is there to take advantage of those anxieties. So let’s take some of the myth out of the method and talk about what it takes to improve your endurance and performance during sex… without the bullshit.
Understand the Difference Between A Preference And A Problem
One of the first issues to address is, simply, understanding the difference between a legitimate issue like premature ejaculation and “I’m not able to last as long as I’d like.” One is a preference. The other is a legitimate syndrome that frequently requires a medical assist. Let’s start by defining terms. Premature ejaculation is typically defined as a persistent or recurrent uncontrolled ejaculation prior to or within a minute of penetration, and occurring before either partner desires it. It’s also one of the most surprisingly common forms of sexual dysfunction; according to a survey from the Journal of the American Medical Association, nearly 1/3rd of men from ages 18-59 reported that it was a regular and recurring issue during sex.
The tricky thing about premature ejaculation is that there’s no one cause; it’s generally considered to be a mix of anxiety issues, overstimulation and learned behavior, and when it’s a chronic issue it can require professional help to untangle and sort out. But while premature ejaculation is a real problem, a great deal of the anxiety over one’s sexual endurance focuses on the idea that a “real” man should be able to bang out for literally hours before ever needing to orgasm… and therein lies the problem. While many people believe that penetration should last for 30 minutes, the actual average of intravaginal ejaculation latency time1 is around 7 minutes. In fact, a survey of members of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research finds that the sweet spot for actual penetration falls between 7 and 13 minutes, with 3-5 minutes being “adequate” and 1-3 minutes being problematic. And let’s face it: we don’t want to be just “adequate.” So how can we perform better in bed?
Quit Watching Porn
Part of the problem with people getting anxious about their staying power is, frankly, because of porn. As I’ve mentioned before, American sexual education focuses predominantly on anatomy lessons and STDs, period. It’s woefully inadequate and does absolutely nothing to address misconceptions about sexual pleasure, virility or potency. As a result: the vast majority of our education in sex comes from porn. And therein lies half the problem. Porn sex is nothing like real sex; everything in porn is about putting on a performance. Every single aspect, from the positions to the fake orgasms to the full body waxing to the money shots, is all about what looks best on the camera and gets the viewer off quicker. Unfortunately, the ubiquity of porn and the lack of any other form of education means that we absorb all the wrong lessons from it. As a result, we watch the marathon boning sessions between Evan Stone and Alannah Rae and assume that we too should be able to hang in as long as the porn stars do. Except… it’s all fake. The prodigious endurance of male porn stars is born out of trickery and chemistry and careful editing to patch over the seams. The scenes are carefully stitched together to preserve the illusion that it’s all the same session instead of starting and stopping because the lighting needs to be changed or somebody had a muscle cramp or farted or came too early. The men apply numbing solutions (or occasionally – and I shit you not – cocaine) or perform only-works-in-porn moves like pulling their cock out and slapping it against his costar’s thigh or vagina in order to dial back the urgent need to come. Moreover, that extra long fuck isn’t a picnic for the women either. Porn makes it look like the longer hang time you have, it ends up being orgasm after screaming orgasm for her until she melts into a golden puddle of afterglow and post-coital cigarettes. In reality, slamming away for twenty or thirty minutes without pause is going to end up with her being dryer than Death Valley and leave her feeling like a car’s engine after someone tried to drive through the Mojave desert after draining all the oil somewhere around Barstow.
Expecting your sex life to mirror porn in anything but the basic tab-a-goes-into-slot-b mechanics is going to be setting yourself up for disappointment and an unsatisfying love life.
Don’t Think of Baseball
The old idea that you can delay your orgasm by thinking of something unerotic – your parents doing the Lambada, Mitch McConnell, running down the multiplication tables – is actually a mistake that a lot of guys make.
To start with: most of the issues that trigger premature ejaculation have to do with anxiety, not how incredibly turned on you are. By desperately trying to distract yourself from how good everything feels, you’re only re-emphasizing just how freaked out you are… which is pretty much the exact opposite of what you’re actually trying to achieve. It just firms up your fear of popping your top too early, and that makes that fear even more present in the forefront of your mind at a time when the best thing you can do is relax.
Plus, part of learning to control your body is to be aware of it, not to distract yourself from it. The more you can be aware of your triggers and the sensations your body is feeling during sex, the more you can learn how to adapt and respond to them. After all, if you’re so focused on trying to name the starting lineup of the 1996 Spurs that you miss the fact that you’re nearing the point of no return… well, that didn’t exactly help, now did it?
Besides – part of the whole point of having sex is being with your partner. Distracting yourself in the moment means you’re not paying attention to them, what they’re doing and trying to please them. And let’s be honest: it’s kind of insulting not to be giving them your full attention.
So what do you do instead?
Foreplay, Foreplay, Foreplay
And also? Foreplay. I’m being serious. A large part of the anxiety surrounding coming too quickly is the idea that it renders you incapable of pleasing a woman. After all, how’re you supposed to give a woman orgasm after orgasm if the best you can manage is three minutes of the ol’ in-and-out burger? And therein lies the problem; for many men, it’s aaaaall about getting the penis in there. Everything else is just what you do to get there. Because men tend to be focused on penetrative sex, we tend to assume that women are too.
In fact, for most women, penis-in-vagina sex is the least likely way they’re going to get off. 70% of women simply can’t climax through penetration alone; they need direct clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm and you aren’t going to be able to do that with just your penis.
But this can actually work to your advantage. If you’re determined to be the Provider of Orgasms but are worried about your hang-time, then the best thing you can do is become a master of non-penetrative sex. Learn to love oral sex. Put the magic in those magic fingers. Get familiar with toys and how to use them. Take your time to make sex a full body experience instead of focusing all of your attention on her nipples and vaginal canal and find all the things that make her gasp, moan and bite her lip… without using it as precursor to “OK, can I put it in now?” When you can please a woman with every part of you then you’re going to go down in her book as one of the best lovers she’s ever known regardless of whether you can go for three minutes or all night long.
And, just as importantly, it’s going to help you relax. When you know you can make her orgasm over and over again with just your mouth and hands, you’re not going to be as anxious about how quickly you’re going to get off… and the relief from all that anxiety is going to help you slow down and enjoy the sex, too.
Use Your Body
There are a number of ways to learn ejaculatory control and last longer during sex that simply involve knowing how to use your body properly. The first is to learn to control your pubococcygeus muscles. The PC muscles in men run from the anus to the unrinary sphincter in the penis, and strengthening them not only helps you to delay your ejaculatory response, but helps make your erections even harder. To learn how to clench the PC muscles, try to cut off the flow of urine next time you’re in the bathroom. Those are the PC muscles you feel tensing up. Doing three reps of 15 clenches per day will tighten up those muscles, and make it easier to pull back from the point of no return during sex. Next, you want to vary up the speed and rhythm of your thrusts. Too many men simply jackhammer away as though they were trying to break through concrete; it may feel great (to you) but it’s also going to end up training your penis to ejaculate as quickly as possible through the constant, repetitive sensation. Instead, try what’s known as the 7 and 9 or the 1 in 4. With the former you adjust your speed – seven fast strokes followed by nine long, slow ones, repeating the sequence over and over. The latter focuses instead on the depth of thrusts – three shallow thrusts followed by one long, slow deep thrust, and then repeating. In both cases they vary up the sensation you feel – helping you last longer – but still establishing a steady rhythm and friction for your partner as well. It’s also a good idea to change up positions. You don’t want to switch every couple of seconds – that’s just going to make it impossible for either of you to enjoy it – but starting off with her on top, say, then when you’re getting close, stopping and switching to missionary or doggie style will not only make the sex last longer but also give you time to calm down and pull back from the edge. Plus: it lets you experiment with finding out which positions work best for you and which work best for her.
The other thing is, when you feel yourself getting close, you can always take a moment to stop and let the sensation recede. This doesn’t mean you quit having sex mind you; you simply switch back to oral sex or using your fingers, or using the head of your penis to tease against her labia. All of these will keep her aroused while letting you have the time to let things ease back before returning to penetration.
OK straight up: unless you’re dealing with chronic premature ejaculation and you’re working with a doctor, I really don’t recommend any sort of chemical assist when it comes to lasting longer in bed. To be perfectly honest, I think most of the chemical options have too many drawbacks, but I’m including them here in the interest of completeness. To start with: some doctors will prescribe low doses of SSRI’s to treat premature ejaculation. As anyone who’s dealt with anti-depressants can tell you, many SSRIs like Zoloft can make it difficult to reach orgasm. In fact, some folks (myself included) found that they’d get to the point that they couldn’t come for love nor money even if Christina Hendricks was in the room and wanted to know if you’d be willing to judge a blow-job contest between her and Kat Dennings.
Some people have tried self-medicating using booze – deliberately inflicting whiskey-dick on themselves in hopes of lasting a little bit longer. Another option – one that’s frequently used by porn stars – is to use a topical anesthetic like benzocaine in order to dull the sensation and let you last a little longer. In fact, there are “desensitizing” condoms that are treated with a bezocaine lubricant for precisely this purpose. The problem with using an anesthetic is that when they say it reduces sensation it means all sensation; you may be lasting longer but that’s because you can’t feel a damn thing... kind of negating the point of having sex at all, really.
When In Doubt, Rub One Out
The final option that works is, simply, to masturbate. Now, while jerking off in advance of having sex is a way of slowing yourself down, what I mean is that you have to change up how you do it. When men masturbate, it tends to be a wham-bam-thank-you-glans situation; you’re trying to get off as quickly as possible, not have a sensual experience after all. The problem is that this actually trains your penis (and your brain) to expect a certain speed and response – basically teaching you to be fast on the draw. Sure, when you’re young it’s as much a survival technique as anything else – you never know when somebody’s going to be pounding on the door demanding to know what the hell you’re doing in there – but it ends up teaching you to expect to reach orgasm as quickly as possible. So you have to essentially retrain your penis to not expect to come immediately; instead, you want to learn to appreciate the sensation without immediately popping your cork. Using a start and stop method – coming close to the edge, then stopping long enough for the sensation to fade before you start again – helps get you used to the friction without needing to ejaculate immediately. You can also use masturbation toys like the Tenga egg or a Fleshlight in order to help get used to sensations similar to a human vagina; using these can be a way of learning how to control your arousal during actual penetration. You do have to be careful, especially when you’re just using your hand, not to use the “Death Grip”, squeezing so tightly that you end up teaching yourself to need a level of friction no bodily orifice can match. Being unable to come at all during sex is even more frustrating than coming too quickly. Overall however, the best thing you can do is simply quit paying attention to the goddamn clock. The quality of sex isn’t based on time, it’s based on connecting with your partner. Focusing on your anxieties about how long you last has been proven to make things worse in a perverse self-fulfilling prophecy. Spend your time focusing on enjoying yourself and pleasing your partner… everything else is just a number.
- That is: amount of time between penetration and ejaculation [↩]