Michael’s story: trying hard to stay hard
Twenty four years in, Michael and Emma’s marriage still had plenty of passion. But Michael started to experience erection difficulties.
After a check-up, Michael’s doctor put this down to work stress and being almost 50 years old. The doc recommended more walking and exercise, and suggested he try Viagra to give things a boost.
The Viagra made a positive difference straight away – it usually does. But both Michael and Emma noticed that he was reaching orgasm significantly faster.
Michael felt like he was playing dysfunction whack-a-mole: he fixed his ED and then PE popped up. Sex was becoming an increasingly stressful experience.
I discussed with Michael how long he had previously lasted. He explained that he had relied on pausing the action and cooling down (commonly known as the stop-start technique). With a bit of self-control, sex had been a fun and satisfactory experience for them both.
But it was during the pauses that Michael began to lose his erection, and sometimes it didn’t come back. He lost confidence in his penis, and tried to stay hard by thrusting vigorously for as long as he could hold out. The constant stimulation helped him to stay hard, but it was over-stimulating too.
Now even with the help of Viagra, he was finding it difficult to cool down when he needed to. He wasn’t sure whether the medication and increased blood flow was ramping things up, or he just couldn’t pause and relax any more.
He was racing against time, trying to satisfy Emma 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 played into his anxieties.
Stress was only making things worse. “First the ED and now PE is happening more and more often. Is this what sex is like after 50?” asked Michael.
Premature ejaculation in middle age
I think most guys will agree here: our confidence in our erections is easily dented. One or two awkward experiences are all it takes for self-doubt and stress to surface.
Men can experience a phase of less-than-reliable erections at any age, of course. But erection difficulties become more prevalent in middle age.
There are a whole bunch of potential factors, including:
- Perceiving our own bodies as less attractive and virile, increasingly avoiding the mirror.
- Less sleep and niggling health issues, feeling less energised.
- Boredom creeping into the relationship, with sex becoming infrequent or defaulting to maintenance mode.
Luckily Michael and Emma had retained their mutual desire for each other. But his doctor had a point about exercise; Michael was more sedentary these days and more inclined to wake up during the night.
With regard to any erection or ejaculation difficulties, Michael did absolutely the correct thing by getting a thorough medical check.
And if you’re in this phase of life and notice yourself avoiding sex or losing confidence, the next correct action is to discuss this as a couple.
Avoidance and awkwardness can easily set in. In and out of the bedroom, communication and a warm partner connection is vital for the longer-term.
Performance anxiety and PE
To get specific about Michael’s dilemma, it appeared that he had developed performance anxiety and acquired premature ejaculation.
As is often the way with PE, it’s not like anything physiological is going wrong. It’s possible that he was always inclined to come quite soon – that’s just his natural disposition.
Was Michael’s premature ejaculation getting worse with age? Not quite. The technique that he had always used to last longer had failed him.
Where he once took a relaxing, empowering pause, he now associated any break in intercourse with stress and failure. The Viagra didn’t take this stress away.
It’s not unusual for men to feel exposed during any pause in stimulation. For example, when putting on a condom after foreplay, removing the last remnants of clothing or changing position.
Any sign of shrinkage down there can induce a minor panic. And if you’re over 50, it might not feel so minor.
The problem with jackhammering
So there is logic to Michael’s workaround: try to keep up the action and maintain stimulation as much as possible. Don’t give the penis the opportunity to get distracted.
We’ve all seen this in porn, where the action is slap-slap-slap. But how sustainable is relentless, mechanical banging in the real world?
Thanks to Viagra (also known as sildenafil), we can suddenly find ourselves equipped like never before. For older guys, more aggressive intercourse can feel like a reaffirming of their masculinity and potency.
But like so many of us mere mortals, Michael experienced the difficult reality.
Jackhammering: A man’s RAPID motioned sex style that gives ZERO PLEASURE to a woman. Jackhammering is a style used by AVID PORN WATCHERS.Urban Dictionary
Medications to the rescue?
For men in Michael’s situation, Viagra will overcome erection difficulties. Again, check with your doctor first as it may not be compatible with low blood pressure or diabetes. But for the vast majority of guys, it’ll do the job.
What about medication for premature ejaculation in middle age? SSRI antidepressant pills are often prescribed off-label for the known side-effect of supressing sexual arousal. They are taken daily, and usually require a couple of weeks to take effect.
There’s also dapoxetine (marketed as Priligy), an SSRI pill that can be taken on-demand like Viagra. It’s not uncommon for men to take Viagra and Priligy at the same time.
There are also single pills that claim to mix sildenafil and dapoxetine, a double-whammy of medication.
Your doctor should always advise on medication, as there can be significant side-effects and downsides. A lot of men report that dapoxetine only extends their intercourse time by a minute. And when they stop taking it, some guys find themselves reaching orgasm even sooner than before.
Sex skills at any age
A skills-based approach to overcoming PE is vastly preferable to medication. This is true for guys who have always struggled to make sex last, and guys who run into difficulties in later life.
To reiterate: if your premature ejaculation is getting worse with age or has come along out of the blue, get a medical checkup and address any obvious stressors in your day-to-day life.
Firstly, we need to remember that it’s not all about confidence in our erections. The majority of women need direct clitoral stimulation in order to reach orgasm.
70% of women rarely climax through intercourse alone, no matter how long it lasts. So us guys need to broaden our sexual repertoire, especially if we want to revitalise a long-established marriage.
Fingers, tongues, toys, talk, massage, teasing. Instead of focusing all your attention on how your penis interacts with her vagina, make sex a full body experience. Open up the conversation with your partner in the spirit of fun and pleasure rather than fixing a problem.
I’m not talking about second best sex either. Therapist advice often comes across as “if you can’t keep it up or last very long, here are the things you can do instead”. No – this is about best sex where intercourse is part of your repertoire of skills.
Many women enjoy stimulation in a multitude of ways, so prepare to learn more about your partner’s desires. When you stop regarding intercourse as the absolute main event, you can enjoy it with more freedom and creativity.
Practical tips for premature ejaculation in middle age
There are multiple ways we can learn to last longer, including:
- Reducing muscle tension, particularly in our abs, pelvis, glutes and thighs. Jackhammering makes this impossibly difficult.
- Developing awareness of our excitement levels. There are distinct phases of excitement before we reach the point of no return and recognising them is essential.
- There are breathing hacks to effectively engage our parasympathetic nervous system and delay the ejaculation reflex. All that grunting and panting might be good cardio, but it has the opposite effect.
- Creativity is also key, both cognitively and in the way that we move during sex. More about this below.
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 intense sensation and it’s hot for you both. Remember to breathe, slowly and deeply from your abdomen.
Switch up speed, rhythm and angle of penetration. 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.
Both approaches mix up the sensation you feel – helping you last longer and stay erect – and establish a steady rhythm and friction for your partner as well.
Michael came to realise that some new skills were in order, rather than just trying to make his old methods work again. This was an opportunity to enhance his sexual connection with Emma.
When Emma advised him to slow things down, he listened to what she actually enjoyed. In return, he was upfront with her about the things he wanted more of.
They experimented together, trying out different intercourse positions. They found that the smallest adjustments are the most sensual, and how enjoyable this discovery phase can be.
Emma felt new sensations and the creative focus helped Michael to stay in control. If his mind wandered into ED or PE panic territory, he learned how to breathe it out and fully relax his lower body.
Michael experienced that physiological relaxation and erection can be completely compatible; this is the optimal way to enjoy intercourse.
With Emma on side, the natural fluctuation of erection hardness didn’t bother him. He realised that this was the ebb and flow of his sexual excitement levels, and another key to lasting longer.
The combination of release of pressure AND new ideas had an invigorating effect. Emma confessed that she was getting her sexual needs met more than ever before in their 24-year marriage.