Out of Order: Your Guy's Performance Problems

How to react in a way that will help resolve the issues

As a woman whose job entails writing about, analyzing and researching sex, some men find me intimidating. More specifically it's their penises that seem to find me intimidating. Often they won't even come out and introduce themselves until I've been seeing their owner for quite a while. Unlike most women, I'm accustomed to this issue. So, not only do I not take it personally; I also know that, the less fuss you make about erection problems, the quicker they're solved. But, besides just playing it cool, there are many other things you can do to help out your guy through this uncomfortable situation and others - from Erectile Dysfunction to Premature Ejaculation to the men who last too long. Read on.

Watch Video: My Partner Orgasms too Fast

He seems uninterested.

The problem:

Because most men believe that a permanent, raging erection is a sign of “being a man,” it can feel emasculating and confusing when, for example, seeing your breasts doesn't make him instantly want to have sex with you. But don't dive in right away with the third degree of “What's wrong?” questioning; he'll be sensitive about it. What will be effective, however, is waiting until you're both in good moods and saying, “Honey, I've noticed you don't want sex as often as you used to. Are you feeling stressed at the moment? I love/d our sex life and I miss it.” This is a non-judgemental way to start up a real conversation, and it's relatively easy to take it from there. Vow to listen properly and don't take any of it personally. Repeat back in your own words what he says to you to ensure there's no confusion.

Action plan:

  • If there's an obvious emotional problem -- stress levels through the roof, grieving over the loss of a parent, fears you don't love him anymore -- talking can often being reassuring. Plan a vacation if he's super-stressed, or offer up some (non-sexual) back massages and pamper time. Try to de-stress his life and make it clear you're happy with quick sex sessions which take less time and energy.
  • If the issue seems physically based, ask him to visit his doctor to get a full exam. The doctor will need to look at what his lifestyle, general health and medications to see what effect it's all having on his body. And yes, this exam will involve him telling the truth about his lifestyle, including any recreational drug use and excessive drinking or smoking.
  • If he gets the all-clear from his doctor, he might be given tests to check his testosterone level. Testosterone is responsible for his sex drive and it drops by 15% each decade from age 40 onward. You have three choices to give it a boost: Choose from a pill, patch or injection. He also must have his prostate checked for medical reasons.
  • Is he simply bored? When was the last time you tried something new? Are you both putting real effort in to keep things interesting? While the worst thing you can do is react to loss of desire by going overboard on the seduction techniques, a quiet but thorough overhaul of a predictable sex life can often work wonders.

His mind is willing, but his flesh is weak.

The problem

Impotence, or Erectile Dysfunction (ED), is defined as being unable to maintain an erection sufficient for intercourse. Global ED is being unable to get an erection at all, under any circumstances. And Situational ED is being unable to get one with a partner (but, for example, having no trouble during masturbation - think Trey in Sex and the City). Having sex late at night with a belly full of food and alcohol can also affect erections temporarily; sex in the morning nearly always produces a harder penis.

How you react the first time he has an erection problem is crucial. If you shrug your shoulders or even have a laugh together, it's unlikely to happen on a regular basis. Why? If he's terrified he'll upset you again, his penis will prefer to sulk in the corner of his Calvin's rather than go through that humiliation again! In the future, don't pretend you haven't noticed, but do stay calm about it. Stroke him or gently massage him to see what happens -- but diving dramatically downward to desperately try to revive him will just freak him out further.

Other men find they can get an erection without any problems, but it goes down the minute they penetrate. Performance anxiety is often the cause of this type of ED - but it can also be (sorry, girls) an untoned vagina. The tighter you are, the harder his erection is likely to be.

Action plan:

  • If he's only having occasional problems, it's probably caused by too much alcohol, drugs, medication, pressure or stress. Get him to eat healthily, exercise more and talk through any emotional concerns.
  • If it is happening often, the first step is to check if he gets an early morning erection or can achieve one with masturbation. If he can't, book him an appointment with his general practitioner for a full check-up, and ask for a referral to a urologist.
  • If he is able to get morning erections, it's unlikely to be a physical problem. Tackle it by challenging the psychological issues I talked about before. This could be as simple as deciding to stop worrying about it! Have sex without penetration - where he uses his hands, mouth or tongue -- and just enjoy the journey (and probably more orgasms than you'd usually have through penetration!), rather than being focused on intercourse.
  • Tell him to try not to get an erection. If he does anyway, ignore it initially (even if you both feel like cracking open champagne) until it's a common occurrence. Once it is, experiment with brief penetration -- you climb on top, then lift yourself off after one or two thrusts -- before attempting full intercourse. It's common to try these non-drug methods before succumbing to the little blue pills. (And if he has heart problems or high blood pressure the pills aren't an option anyway.)

He finishes too quickly.

The problem:

PE (premature ejaculation) is when a man orgasms too fast for his, or his partner's, satisfaction. This can mean anything from five thrusts to 15 minutes of thrusting, depending on the people involved. Around 30% of men experience PE at some point in their lives with many men ejaculating within two minutes of penetration. Causes include: lessons learned from early masturbation (having to get it over with quickly before being discovered), performance anxiety, not enough regular sex and youth (the younger he is, the more likely it is to happen). Again, it's a touchy subject -- but (bless him) he also feels he's letting you down by not lasting long enough for you to orgasm. (The fact that around 80% of women get their orgasms via his tongue or fingers  still hasn't quite sunk in for most men.) That's why you need to make it abundantly clear that you're content and happy; once he knows that, he'll worry less because it takes the pressure off.

Action plan:

  • A simple solution is for you to take charge during penetration (via a woman on top position). That way you can control his level of arousal by (literally) keeping an eye on him. If he does orgasm, simply wait for him to pass through the resolution phase and get a second erection. Plus, the more often he has sex, the longer he'll last.
  • The squeeze technique is the old, traditional method of dealing with PE. When he's highly aroused, you firmly squeeze the head of the penis for 15-20 seconds, your thumb on the frenulum (the stringy piece of skin where the head connects to the shaft), first and second fingers on the top of the head. This often delays orgasm.
  • The newer -- and I think more effective - method is the stop-start technique. Step one: He masturbates himself to figure out how he feels immediately before orgasm, then stopping stimulation before the orgasm happens. He should do this four times - bring himself to the brink, then stop - before finally allowing himself to orgasm. Continue this “training” for several weeks until he essentially determines his “point of no return.” Step two: This time you masturbate him, and he tells you when to start and stop. Step three: You repeat the initial exercise but this time he's inside you. Again, allow him to get excited, then stop, then start again. After three or four times of peaking, he's allowed to orgasm. The secret to getting the “stop-start” right is to focus on pleasure and sensation, rather than focusing on him trying to stop himself from ejaculating.

He lasts too long.

The problem:

It's called retarded ejaculation: He's not able to ejaculate when he wants to, despite intense and prolonged thrusting or oral sex. Initially, men tend to think God's just handed down a very special present. But after the thrill wears off, it becomes frustrating and often painful. Most men also quickly figure out it has the opposite effect on women than he first thought; it cuases concern rather than pleasure.

Action plan:

  • Is he on anti-depressants? If so, that's probably the culprit for tardy orgasms. If he's tired or under lots of pressure and this is the first time you're noticing this issue, his exhaustion is probably responsible. Age also effects the pace of ejaculation.
  • The first step, as usual, is to get a full medical exam. Prostate problems are sometimes responsible so you must get it checked.
  • Is he too embarrassed to ask for something he needs to tip him over into orgasm (a finger inserted in the anus, for example)? Make it clear you're happy to indulge any reasonable request.
  • Can he masturbate himself to orgasm? If he can, it's probably not a medically based problem. He may be focusing too much on your pleasure, afraid to let go (perhaps because of a previous pregnancy scare or infidelity) -- or he may have control or power issues in the relationship (he's angry and feels a need to “withhold”).
  • Desensitization techniques are effective to get him used to ejaculating with you, rather than just solo. He starts by masturbating in another room, while you're in the next room with the door open. Next, he masturbates while you stand at the opposite side of the same room, but facing the other way. Finally, he works his way closer and closer until he's able to bring himself to orgasm while you lie beside him. From there on, it's baby steps till he's inside, happily thrusting away and problem sorted!
p.s. Missed one of Tracey's columns? Read them all here. Plus, check out Tracey's Love Bytes video series: Watch the videos now!
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