If you’ve tried to tackle your PE but without success, keep the faith. I’ll explain why the things we try don’t work, and what to do about it.
Michael’s story: trying too hard to stay hard
Michael and Emma were 24 years into their marriage, and the fires of passion still burned. But Michael experienced difficulties getting and staying hard. He put this down to work stress and being a little older.
Viagra had helped him to get hard with more confidence, but he still struggled to maintain his erection. Understandably, this played on his mind.
Michael had tried to control things by thrusting as vigorously as he could. The constant stimulation helped him to stay aroused, and he figured that it would help Emma to reach orgasm faster. He’d seen how guys relentlessly bang away in porn as if their lives depend on it.
The trouble is, the intense pounding drove him to orgasm too quickly. He was over-stimulating himself. It felt like he was racing against time, trying to satisfy everyone before he ejaculated or his erection went AWOL.
And as much as Emma enjoyed intense passion, she didn’t feel much sensation when they went at this pace. She asked Michael to slow down and take his time, but that triggered his ED anxieties. He worried about going soft and he worried about ejaculating too soon, simultaneously.
The stress was only making things worse. “I don’t even want to have sex in this state”, Michael explained. “I just want to keep going for a good amount of time… is that too much to ask?”
What’s going on?
This is a common dilemma for older guys, but it’s not limited to them. We can experience a phase of less-than-reliable erections at any age. And the more we stress about going soft during sex, the more likely it is to happen again.
The problem does tend to occur during a pause in stimulation. For example, when putting on a condom after foreplay, over-cooling down during PIV or during a change in position. We all know that sinking feeling, and the apologies and frustration that follows.
So there is logic to Michael’s workaround: try to keep up the action and maintain stimulation as much as possible. The faster and harder we thrust, the better chance we have of keeping it up. Don’t give the penis the opportunity to get distracted.
We’ve all seen this evidenced in porn, where PIV action accelerates to a piston-like blur. But how effective is relentless, mechanical banging in real world sex? Michael is experiencing the reality, and it isn’t good. We can’t handle the over-stimulation, our partners don’t actually feel anything and it doesn’t satisfy.
Pornstars bang this way because it looks hot. Slow and sensual porn doesn’t quite cut it. Porn is engineered to get us off as quickly as possible. It’s heavily edited, foreplay is blowjob-centric and male performers are known to take all kinds of medications in order to display their sexual athleticism.
Yes, some of these guys are genetic outliers, famously capable of having sex for hours and then doing it all over again on the same afternoon. But in interviews, they freely admit that off-camera sex with their own partners takes a very different form.
So porn is not about sexual connection and gratifying experiences. But that’s exactly what Emma wanted with Michael. There had to be a better way.
For men in Michael’s situation, Viagra will help to overcome arousal difficulties. There’s also dapoxetine (commonly marketed as Priligy) to help delay the ejaculation response and last longer. Some men find themselves taking both, but that’s a heavy combo of medication.
Pills have their downsides too. A lot of men report that dapoxetine only extended their intercourse times by a matter of seconds. And when they stopped taking it, they reached orgasm even faster than before. There’s a lesson here for all of us: an organic, technique-based approach to overcoming PE is vastly preferable to medication.
What works better?
Firstly, we need to remember that it’s not all about mastery of our hard-ons. The majority of women need direct clitoral stimulation in order to reach orgasm. This isn’t necessarily the intense, pounding stimulation that we’ve been trying to pull off.
70% of women simply cannot climax through intercourse alone, no matter how long it lasts. So if you’ve been trying to emulate the banging feats seen in porn, you need to broaden your sexual repertoire. Fingers, tongue, toys, talk, massage, teasing. Instead of focusing all your attention on how your penis interacts with her vagina, make sex a full body experience. Do all the things, and not as a precursor to “can I put it in now?”. There are a thousand ways to please her whole body with no ‘performance’ pressure on you at all.
I’m not talking about ‘second best’ sex either. Therapist advice often comes across as “well if you can’t keep it up or last very long, here are the things you can try instead”. No – this is about ‘best sex’ where PIV action is part of your entire repertoire of skills. Women want to be stimulated in a multitude of ways in order to get off, and this fact works to your advantage.
So longer-lasting intercourse isn’t the holy grail of sex. But it is important, I know.
There are multiple ways we can learn to last longer, all explored on this very site. And frenetic banging is pretty much incompatible with all of them:
- Reducing muscle tension, particularly in our abs, pelvis, glutes and thighs, really helps. Jack-hammer thrusting makes this impossibly difficult.
- We need to be able to check in on our arousal levels, to really feel calm and assured. Again, rapid banging makes this seriously challenging.
- Slow and controlled breathing helps us to access our parasympathetic nervous system and delay the ejaculation reflex. Grunting and panting might be good cardio, but it has the opposite effect.
- Ideally, we want to be able to focus on the subtle sensations of pleasure across our bodies. There’s not much subtlety in porn moves.
- Creativity is also key, both cognitively and in the way that we move during sex. More about this below.
- We want to develop the mindset of ‘being sexual’ rather than ‘performing’. Trying to bang our fears and anxieties away isn’t the way to go.
Takeaway tip: When you first penetrate, pacing is everything. Ease in gradually and stay there. Literally don’t thrust for a minute or longer; look her in the eyes and so, so slowly begin to move. This helps you to get acclimatised to the sensation and it’s hot for her. Remember to breathe, slowly and deeply from your abdomen.
Get creative and switch up speeds, rhythms and of course, positions. If you need to reduce sensation and cool things down, there are ways to do this that won’t lose sexual momentum.
Sometimes men tell me that they’ve tried going slow before and it didn’t help. I remind them that there’s a skill to this, and it’s not just their usual intercourse style in slower motion.
For example, there’s the ‘7 and 9’ or the ‘1 in 4’ techniques. With the former you adjust your speed – seven fast strokes followed by nine long, slow ones, repeating the sequence over and over. The latter focuses instead on the depth of thrusts – three shallow thrusts followed by one long, slow deep thrust, and then repeating. In both cases they vary up the sensation you feel – helping you last longer – but still establishing a steady rhythm and friction for your partner as well.
Michael came to realise that his ED workaround was flawed. When Emma advised him to slow things down, he really listened to what she actually enjoyed. In return, he was upfront with her about the things he wanted more of.
They experimented together, looking up new ideas and playing with different intercourse positions, rhythms and tempo. By adopting a little more creativity, the benefits were multiple. Emma felt new sensations and the creative focus helped Michael to stay in control. If his mind wandered back to ED or PE fears, he learned how to shift back to noticing sensations of pleasure.
With less reliance on prolonged PIV stimulation, Michael found that he wasn’t so nervous about losing his erection. If it did happen, he didn’t freeze or panic. With Emma on his side, he was creative and calm enough to get hard again with ease. He realised that this was the natural ebb and flow of his sexual excitement levels, and key to lasting longer.
The combination of release of pressure AND new ideas had an invigorating effect on both Michael and Emma. She confessed that she was getting her sexual needs met more than ever before in their 25-year marriage.