Dear Mary: I have always been bad at sex - I need help
I'm in my mid-40s, my wife is 10 years younger, we've been together for 15 years and we have two lovely kids.
I have always been bad at sex, I ejaculate within a few seconds of penetration. I do OK at oral sex but my quick ejaculation leaves my wife feeling frustrated.
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She doesn't complain, except for one time when she suggested that I see a doctor. I laughed it off at the time but I do need some kind of help as I'm worried that my wife will look elsewhere for sex. The problem is hard to talk about because I feel useless.
My sex drive has lowered a little bit with age but my wife's is still high. Sometimes I don't initiate sex because I know I'll disappoint her.
I would really appreciate any advice on how to last longer during intercourse.
A I am so happy that you have finally decided to do something about your problem because it has gone on for a long time and you must both be feeling quite frustrated by now.
And thank you for bringing up the topic because it is one of the most common problems that men experience and yet they never talk about it to one another, so the person with it is left feeling very isolated.
It is also, luckily, a problem that responds quite well to treatment.
There are a number of different ways to treat premature ejaculation. Firstly, there is the psychosexual route, where you visit a sex therapist weekly or fortnightly for somewhere between 10 and 12 visits.
You can attend on your own and get a certain amount of work done, but ideally visit with your wife so she can understand what is involved and then do the exercises with you. All exercises are done at home. Having taken a detailed history of your sexual and emotional development the therapist will be able to formulate possible reasons for your PE. For instance, it often occurs as a result of early experiences being hurried, either in masturbation or when having sex, or indeed, both. The therapist will then give you a series of exercises to do to help you establish better control over your ejaculation.
Treatment can be very successful, depending on how severe the problem is. The College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (www.cosrt.org.uk) is where you will find a therapist in your area. Even though it is based in the UK, Irish therapists can be found by going to Therapists Listings and searching for therapists in Ireland.
For those people who are unable to attend a therapist there is a very good book by Barry McCarthy and Michael Metz Coping with Premature Ejaculation - How to Overcome PE, Please Your Partner & Have Great Sex. It's been around for quite a while but it is still the best that is available.
The third option is medical intervention which I found men were less happy to use. Some of the antidepressants, and one in particular, have the effect of slowing people down and as a result it was found that they slowed down the ejaculatory process as well. As with any medication there are possible side effects which is why there is less of an uptake on this line of treatment. And, of course, once you stop taking the medication the PE returns.
Some of my clients found that they were able to last longer if they masturbated in the morning if they felt they would be having sex with their partners later on. Other clients found that going for a run before having sex not only raised their testosterone level and so they felt like having sex, but they found that they could last longer having tired themselves out running!
There are also creams and sprays available which desensitise the glans of the penis and thereby slow down the response, but the downside of this method is that they tend to desensitise the female too and they speak of feeling numb.
A colleague tells me she has been having some success also with getting clients to practise mindfulness - she maintains that the pace of life is now so hectic that it is helpful to get people to slow down and become aware that they can make choices.
Circumcision is another option, and a urologist friend suggests that he has about a 60pc success rate. This makes sense when you consider that in an uncircumcised male the foreskin protects the glans of the penis and it is therefore much more sensitive. This suggestion often causes men to cross their legs and become more determined than ever to go down the therapy route.
So you see, there are a lot of options open to you and I hope that you have success with whatever you decide.
It is, however, important to bear in mind that it's not all about the length of time you last, even though you would love to last longer. It is more important to be a considerate and caring lover, taking your time on your wife's pleasure rather than pushing on to actual intercourse.
Finally, if a man ejaculates during intercourse before the woman has had an orgasm, this is not necessarily PE. Some people have unrealistic expectations and feel that if only they had lasted longer then their partner would have had an orgasm.
In fact, straightforward intercourse (without any additional stimulation of the clitoris by the woman's own hand, her partner's hand or tongue, or by a vibrator) produces an orgasm for only about 25pc of women.
Good luck with it all and I'm sure your wife will be delighted that you are doing something about this.
You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or write c/o 27-32 Talbot St, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately