Some guys take longer to reach orgasm and ejaculation than others. Think of it as a spectrum of stamina, if you like.
If you’re a penis-owner, you’re somewhere on this spectrum. And if you’re at one end or the other, you’ll know how problematic this can feel.
At one end of the spectrum, we have premature or early ejaculation, where guys come sooner than they desire. Repeatedly, much to their frustration.
And at the opposite end, we have delayed ejaculation. Guys taking too long to come; not being able to get off as soon as they want. Repeatedly, much to their frustration.
The latter situation is sometimes called impaired ejaculation, or even inadequate ejaculation – which sounds a bit harsh to me.
Of course, both of these scenarios frustrate our partners too. In fact, delayed ejaculation might be the most problematic for partners. It can result in pain and soreness and just trying to stay awake long enough.
Maybe partners enjoy the delayed or DE experience at first (not so much with PE). This guy can go and go. But it gets old quickly.
By some estimates, women prefer regular intercourse to last for 7 to 13 minutes. Beyond that, it feels too long.
Delayed ejaculation is a bit less common; it’s estimated that 3% of guys experience it, compared to around 30% experiencing early ejaculation. This explains the vast amount of products and resources dedicated to PE, and less discussion of DE in general.
In fact, men in the PE camp tend to envy the DE guys – lasting too long sounds like a good problem to have.
According to the NHS website, men who experience DE can take up to 60 minutes to ejaculate, maybe even longer. They might not be able to reach ejaculation with a partner at all.
That’s not a good problem to have. Guys with DE can find themselves feeling less of a man, something often echoed by PE guys too.
What do delayed and premature ejaculation have in common?
As well as being a huge source of frustration, there are other factors that relate to both DE and PE:
- Both can be temporary or feel more lifelong – when it’s pretty much always happened throughout our sexual history.
- Both can be caused by medical conditions, so a medical checkup is always a good idea.
- Our serotonin levels and receptors are a common factor, but in different ways. SSRI medication, which raises serotonin levels, is a treatment for depression. And delayed orgasm and ejaculation is very common side-effect of SSRI medication. Raise serotonin levels and it takes longer to come. And for this reason, this side-effect, SSRI medication has become a treatment for premature ejaculation. Rightly or wrongly – I’ve delved into this issue in other articles.
- Anxiety – and particularly performance anxiety – is a significant factor in DE and PE. Guys can find themselves taking too long when trying for a baby, for example, with all the stresses for both partners around that. And when it’s particularly acute, some anti-anxiety medications can help with delayed ejaculation. Medication can help lower our anxiety levels and allow the ejaculation reflex to kick in.
- Alcohol is a factor in DE and PE, and there’s a tipping point where drinking can result in either outcome.
- DE and PE can happen randomly at times. Both can occur due to tiredness or feeling distracted or just one of those things on the night. That’s just fine – it’s only problematic if it happens regularly, so don’t assume that once or twice is anything to worry about.
- Both can lead to faking. Men with DE fake orgasm sometimes, and men with PE try to keep going sometimes and pretend they haven’t come. One of these is easier to pull off than the other, but neither is optimal, of course.
- And finally, guys who experience DE often find that they come sooner when masturbating. And vice versa for guys who experience PE – they last longer when going solo.
So it’s all a bit of a paradox, isn’t it.
What can men with premature ejaculation learn from delayed ejaculation treatment?
Sex therapy and counselling can help at both ends of the spectrum. But there are some specific things in DE treatment that might be of interest to guys looking to last longer. And potentially vice versa too.
For starters, both DE and PE guys should consider:
- Making sure there’s good communication with their partners. We know that partners sometimes interpret both problems as signs of waning attraction or not caring enough, and this adds extra pressure and stress.
- Guys should get a medical checkup too, just to be sure. Review any medications that you’re on (particularly SSRI medication) and consider whether any recreational substances might be affecting your function too.
Now here’s a thing: your masturbation style
When men who experience DE are assessed for treatment, they sometimes have a more unique masturbatory technique.
What do I mean by that? They might be in the habit of stimulating themselves really quickly, or using the death grip, or focusing on a particular spot. They might be giving themselves skin irritation or desensitising their penis in some way.
And the way they are getting off is pretty far removed from the movements and sensations of intercourse. So they’ve conditioned themselves to reach ejaculation in a somewhat special way that sex with a partner just doesn’t replicate.
So the therapy for DE guys is making a few adjustments, so that masturbation feels more like intercourse. Heated fleshlights and lube are often recommended.
But for PE guys – is there any takeaway here? Make masturbation a bit more of a frenzy, develop your death grip? No, I wouldn’t recommend this approach. Maybe try switching hands, mixing things up a bit.
In terms of skin sensitivity, we can see why numbing sprays and wipes might help to delay the build up of feeling and excitement. But slow down your masturbation technique if anything. Take your time and get used to staying aware of your environment.
The intense, more far-out masturbation habit zooms in attention and focus, raising the heat and getting guys off sooner. Take an opposite approach to last longer – be mindful of everything around you and notice, even speak out loud the sensations you are feeling. That’s a top tip when you’re on your own, so put your phone down and notice what’s going on.
And while we’re on the subject of masturbation, there’s frequency too
Guys who want to come sooner are advised to masturbate less – cut it out even. Then when they get with their partners, they naturally have more need to release. It doesn’t require as much time and stimulation.
For men who want to slow things down, it could be that they aren’t masturbating often enough. So it makes sense to take the opposite approach, reset the clock a bit more regularly.
Some guys feel the desire to masturbate more often than others, so it might be every day or couple of days or weekly. And it needs to fit with your schedule and homelife, so you can take your time and be in your body. More rushed and furtive masturbation sessions could have the opposite effect.
The key takeaway: sexual excitement
A big difference between the DE and PE camps is levels of excitement during intercourse.
Very often, men who take too long just aren’t feeling enough excitement in their minds. This might be for a number of reasons: distracting thoughts, discomfort with their appearance, unmet needs in and out of the bedroom, boredom, there are lots of possibilities.
So therapy for DE involves finding ways to raise excitement levels, to explore hot fantasies, to kickstart sexual imaginations. Couples find ways to rediscover some of that early-relationship novelty, the rush of intimacy.
For men who struggle with PE, a bit of the opposite might be in order. I often talk about making sex less exciting.
If the prospect of sex with your partner fills you with anticipation, if it makes your heart race or your stomach turn over, this might be too much anticipation.
If you get rushing thoughts of “it could be amazing this time, must make it good, don’t mess up, what if it goes wrong again?“, this is overwhelm. If you’re desperate to get it right and play it cool at the same time, that’s a lot of pressure.
With all this churn of emotion and self-talk going on, can you really expect to keep it together? Can you expect to be able to slow down the pace and properly do the things you’ve learned about lasting longer and sharing pleasure?
Maybe, but this level of excitement works against you. So we need to calm things down and find a better balance. Still aroused, of course, feeling good, but hot and unbothered is way to go.
Think about some of the other activities that you enjoy: sports, a workout, social gatherings. Activities that are compelling but don’t get you rushing with anxiety and nerves. Sex needs to feel more like that. And if that feels impossible – if sex feels too special, too exciting – therein may lie the problem.
Some guys tell me that their partner seems less excited than them. Partners that enjoy sex but don’t seem to bask in the afterglow. They have fun, kiss and get on with their day or night.
That’s not your partners verdict on your performance – that’s a pretty good model. Guys who experience PE could benefit from being more like that.
So we’re talking about doing the opposite of DE treatment, lowering excitement. Feeling slightly more bored by sex, even. Get it off the pedestal of a special activity to a fun, shared activity for a duration time. Lecture over… for now.
Two frustrating problems, lots of overlap
So to wrap up: delayed ejaculation vs early ejaculation. I think it’s beneficial to see them both through a single lens.
Two ends of a spectrum, and some ideas for navigating back to the middle. Whatever your experience so far, I hope this has been insightful.