2 min

Coming too soon

Lose the stopwatch; aim for fun

Wherever you fall on the continuum of coming, lose the stopwatch and focus on pleasure. Credit: Thinkstock

Dear Dr Ren,

I’m 18, gay and have just got my first boyfriend. He’s a bit older and more experienced than I am.

I am soooo embarrassed about how fast I come when we’re together. He lasts forever, but I go off in a minute or less. He says that this doesn’t bother him and that I should just relax and it will fix itself, but so far there’s been no change, and I can tell he’d like it if I could control this better. It must lessen his pleasure. It sure does mine!

Is there anything I can do to fix this?

Too Soon Done

Dear Too Soon Done,

You are describing what is regrettably called premature ejaculation (PE): premature because it is defined in terms of time — if you come within about a minute of penetration or before what is ideal for you or your partner.

Since your boyfriend is telling you he’s not bothered, you might want to believe him. After all, he knows this is your first exciting romance. When you know each other better and grow closer, the sex could easily last longer.

Besides, at 18, you enjoy a very short refractory period — the length of time between one ejaculation and the next. This period increases with age. Now, you can simply busy yourself with your partner after you climax and then do it again.

Your boyfriend is also suggesting you relax. Indeed, anxiety can certainly take your mind away from the pleasure of sex, and that distraction contributes to PE. Focus on the enjoyable sensations (don’t try to ignore them) rather than worrying about your performance.  Have fun! Let your body teach you what it likes. As your confidence and expertise grow, timing will likely become less of an issue. PE affects many young men but fewer older ones.

Here are a few more tips for successful sex:

First, pay attention to the gradual rise in your arousal. Learn to identify your “point of inevitability,” when you know you are going to come regardless of further stimulation or distraction. Play with that point, coming close and then backing off, discovering how your body responds to different sensations and intensities. This is called edging and can make sex really fun, whether you’re with your lover or by yourself. Learn about your body on your own to gain confidence in sharing it with your lover.                      

Then there’s conditioning your pelvic-floor muscle to enable physiological control. You can do this via Kegel exercises, which involve squeezing and releasing the muscle you use when you pee (the same one helps you come). Do several sets of 10 a day until you strengthen the muscle, which usually takes a couple of months. Then note the increase in your control.

Vary your sexual encounters. Design unhurried evenings of building upon and appreciating each moment, and alternate those with intentional quickies. You want to avoid rigid patterns of behaviour based on when you come. Lose the stopwatch; aim for fun.

Despite these upbeat suggestions, I do have a caution for those men who experience what we call primary PE, when you always come rapidly regardless of the circumstance and always have. New research (Waldinger, 2007) has found a genetic component unresponsive to the above-mentioned interventions. For these men, anti-depressant drug therapy works best, but it has its drawbacks and is only a temporary treatment. Accurate diagnosis is critical.

As you age, your sexual response will go through all sorts of changes, some positive, others not. Make it an adventure, concentrating on discovery and flexibility. You have a lifetime of great sex awaiting you.  

Find that T-shirt that says, “Don’t worry. Be happy.” It’ll fit you well.