Queen of Hearts 

Catch it before it goes! Tricks for premature ejaculators.

Dear Carol,
Tried to get your e-site, no go; would you mind clarifying, please? I hope you keep old questions and answers on there. I wrote you one a while ago re: venereal warts, and I wonder if you answered.

Okay, here's another passionate but uncomfy one, please: I've struggled thru life (I'm mid-40s) with what would seem to be a resistant case of premature ejaculation. I've used the most recommended techniques with 50 percent success--squeeze and start/stop techniques--but I've plateaued at the point where I can be hard and in contact with a lover almost forever as long as: 1) I'm basically in control of our movement, and 2) I limit my thrusting to a few thrusts and stop, start, stop, etc. Now I know performance ain't everything; my generous hands, heart, and tongue have pleased the hell out of women; and soft-ons have their place; but it sure would be nice to be able to follow my bliss, thrust away, and last. Please, are there any additional ideas that I might try, or ways I might look at it? I've made an issue of this in psychotherapy, looked at secondary gains, etc., without progress, and also tried dildo stimulation--it ain't got the nerves my penis has, hardly. --I. Wanna Hump

Dear IWH,
You should be able to track me down online now (I'm crossing my fingers as I say this) at the new, improved (though still in process) www.carolqueen.com. My super-duper Web woman at K.J. Herrera Designs has included old columns dating back at least a year, so hopefully you can find what you're looking for that way. (Sadly, my site is still a little low-tech for bells and whistles like internal search capabilities, so give yourself a little time when you go looking.) If not, write me again! The e-mail address below should still be good (crossing fingers again in great fear of new and inescapable technologies). I'll check it this week, promise.

The one thing you don't tell me about your longtime bout of premature ejaculation is how long you do last, though I'm sure you know, since you've done so many sex therapy tricks to cope with it, that everything is relative: One person's PE is another's lusty quickie and is still another's long leisurely screw. (That is, if your expectation is that you should keep your erection and thrusting capabilities for an hour but you only last half that long, you're still lasting longer than most other men; fifteen minutes is five times longer than three minutes, but either duration still might seem too short; etc.) Anyway, my preferred way to think about PE is "ejaculating sooner than you want to"--that takes the clock-watching out of it and focuses on how you and your partner/s like to play.

For the benefit of other readers, let me take a second to recap the strategies you've already tried. The squeeze technique involves getting to the "point of no return" and firmly squeezing the head of the penis before returning to the pleasure-seeking activities at hand. This sends Mr. Happy the "Not yet, Buster!" message; hopefully he will respond. Stop/start is an even simpler technique in which you cease stimulation and thrusting when you feel yourself getting too close to ejaculation; doing this repeatedly does, admittedly, break the rhythm of your lovemaking, but long-duration intercourse actually tends to have breaks built in, with people changing positions, getting a drink of water, or what-have-you. Both these techniques require one thing: an ability to recognize when you're close to ejaculation--the rather inexorable-sounding "moment of ejaculatory inevitability." The trick is to catch yourself an instant before that instant, so that even if you can't prevent the inevitable, you can distract yourself before you get there.

I have some suggestions for you to consider. The first is mechanical. Until we get the futuristic dildo that plugs into our own nerve endings (I'm convinced we'll have it someday--let's put all this research to really good use, eh?), some men find condoms a reasonable compromise in the attempt to tame those excitable nerves. I'm not necessarily talking super-thin state-of-the-art Japanese condoms, either. Though tighter is perhaps better if you're using the condom to mellow out sensation, thicker is also good. You want to go for the opposite effect most condom-users seek, which is as little interference with sensation as possible. Some guys use more than one.

Now, as you probably know, we're at the close of National Masturbation Month, and as I've been saying all through May, masturbation is good for everything. It's good for this, too. One of the ways we often set our lifelong erotic patterns is through masturbation, and with some mindful effort and time, we can often alter them that way too, at least to some extent. Look at how your intercourse pattern compares to the time you take with yourself. Mindfully slow it down. Work on recognizing ejaculatory inevitability and then seeing whether you can affect it by slowing down and focusing on your breathing; by visualization; by altering your position, or whatever other change you might discover that moves your erotic and bodily focus away from the impending orgasm. When you've learned something through self-stimulation, take it into partner sex, but stay patient, too: Many people find partner sex uncontrollably stimulating, always more of a challenge than masturbation when it comes to this sort of issue.

Another tack: Some men find they can get a second erection after having come the first time; if you are one of them, you might consider letting yourself ejaculate early in your erotic encounter and then just continuing to play. Finally, it's possible that you'd benefit from seeing a surrogate. A few sessions might be enough to help you change your pattern in the presence of a partner who knows how to support this change. Best of luck.

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