Premature Ejaculation

It is pretty much impossible to bring up the subject of premature ejaculation (PE) in conversation without provoking a cringe or a snigger, or both. We’ve all heard a version of the one where a guy is struggling to decide what to wear to a fancy dress party, before coming up with the idea to go along with no shirt and no socks on. When asked who he’s supposed to be, he introduces himself as a premature ejaculator – he just came in his pants.
However, PE is no joke for the one in five men who suffer from this common male sexual dysfunction. PE affects more men than erectile dysfunction yet it has traditionally received far less attention, perhaps because of a historical lack of understanding. This week saw something of a first in Irish society – the launch of the new Take Control campaign to highlight the condition and encourage men to talk about it.
To address the sceptics and before thinking about solutions, it’s worth considering the issue in a wider societal context. There is no doubt that ‘good’ sex is commonly and misleadingly represented by the mainstream media and porn as requiring lengthy periods of penetrative sex. This leads to rather skewed societal definitions of sexual pleasure and overlooks the fact that most men last a matter of minutes between penetration and orgasm.
In my practice as a psychotherapist, my work involves therapy for sexual and intimacy difficulties and over the past ten years both myself and my colleagues have seen a growing number of young people – as young as 14 and 15 – presenting with sexual dysfunction. Pornography addiction has been a significant factor. We are seeing complex developmental sexual responses in teenagers and complicated effects on relationships. Orgasms release oxytocin, the attachment hormone and unlike print pornography, the interactive qualities of internet porn and it’s multi-sensory connections give the user a more intense experience and immediate sense of personal connection, thus leading to addiction. Young people can end up having relationships with their computers and find it difficult to respond physically and emotionally to a real person.
So if sexual dysfunctions in general are on the increase and if PE is the most common sexual dysfunction, it stands to reason that there is a greater need than ever for openness and accurate information. Here goes.
Triggers for PE include feeling anxious about ‘performance’, lack of confidence which can arise from not having had sex for a while, being with a new partner or a novel sexual experience, or a habit of masturbating to orgasm very rapidly. Some of these are situation specific and can resolve themselves in a relatively short time. For PE to apply, however, a good rule of thumb is if the male partner regularly ejaculates before or within a short time of starting sexual intercourse and before he would like to.
If a man thinks he has a problem, he could try:
• Masturbating a few hours before having sex;
• Practicing mindfulness and meditation to help him feel less anxious;
• Sharing his sexual worries with his partner;
• Wearing two condoms to reduce sensitivity;
• ‘Edging’ – where he gets close to orgasm, stops, then recommences sexual contact;
• The ‘squeeze’ technique – where he or his partner stimulates the penis until the man feels like he is about to climax. The partner then stops and squeezes the penis until the urge subsides.
If none of the above prove effective, speaking to a GP or healthcare professional about the problem is the best next step.
We as adults need to start talking about sexual dysfunction in a responsible way. If you believe that you’re affected by the issue, take the initiative and raise it with your partner. Inform yourself properly, talk about it together and if you need help, seek it out. You’ll both be happier for it and your relationship will improve.
Self esteem plays a huge part in our sexuality. If you do not like yourself, it is difficult to expect others to find you attractive. The job of intimacy is not to focus on your own inadequacies but to immerse yourself in the other person’s body using all your senses – this allows you to get your attention off yourself and enjoy the experience.
People have an idea that they need to ‘fix’ themselves before they can be in relationships but my experience is that being in relationship is such a healthy thing to do that it forms part of the whole self development task. When we love, we are more open, more human and compassionate with others and with ourselves.
Trish Murphy