FOXSexpert: Finishing Too Soon? Here's Some Advice

It could have been the best sex of your life, except your romps aren’t lasting as long as you would like. An uninvited rapid responder has once again doused your bedroom blaze, with your sex life slowly going up in smoke. That once coveted climax is becoming anticlimactic, regularly drawing your passion play to a premature close.

With 25 percent of American men finishing too soon during sex, many couples find themselves confronting this sexual disorder at one time or another. Thankfully, this most common male complaint is one of the easiest sexual problems to solve.

As a sex educator, I’ve had a number of guys ask me if their staying power could or should be improved. Many wonder if they have a problem or if being Superman in the sack is just wistful thinking. It’s this matter of what’s too “early” or too “soon” that stumps many couples, especially in deciding whether or not they should seek professional help.

Many lovers –- male or female –- have unrealistic expectations about stamina, in large part thanks to the porn industry. They think that a man’s duration during lovemaking should be that of the Energizer Bunny.

Finishing too soon is typically regarded as a major problem when a male doesn’t last for more than a couple of minutes when sexually excited.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, such a rapid response is indeed a problem when it is persistent and recurrent with minimal sexual stimulation before, upon, or shortly after penetration.

It becomes even more troublesome when it interferes with his sex life or, rather, his female companion's ability to enjoy herself during sexual activity. This often leads to dissatisfaction by both parties.

Why So Quick?

What triggers his inability to last? A number of factors, including his age, his lover or sexual situation, the novelty of the sex play, and any recent sexual activity (the longer it has been since he’s rock ’n’ rolled, the faster his body’s reactions).

Common causes include:

— Anxiety, including performance anxiety;

— Health conditions, injury, neurological disorders, or illness, such as diabetes or prostate infection;

— Nonsexual emotional distress or stress and fatigue;

— Amphetamines, including Ritalin;

— Drugs, like cocaine or caffeine;

— Shyness or overexcitement, especially if sexually inexperienced;

— Overstimulation;

— Interpersonal difficulties.

Early Experiences May Be Responsible for Present Problems

Early experience with rushed sex, with or without a partner, is also blamed for this conditioned response. Many males, in their teen years, trained themselves to be rapid responders for fear of getting caught in the act. Some also allowed themselves to release right away because it feels so good, ultimately shooting themselves in the foot.

While this sexual disorder tends to be more frequent among younger males, it is important to realize that a man can suffer from this condition at any point in his life. It can affect both lovers, impacting their physical and emotional health.

Finishing too soon can be a precursor to other male sexual dysfunctions, such as problems with erection and inhibited sexual desire, leaving many men feeling inadequate and ashamed.

It may also negatively influence his female partner’s heart health in her inability to reach orgasm. A 1976 study in Psychosomatic Medicine found that 65 percent of the women who had heart attacks reported trouble with sex, primarily dissatisfaction with their husbands' impotence or inability to hold off.

Fixing the Problem

So what does one do about this debilitating sexual disorder?

First, be realistic in your expectations and stay positive. The typical lovemaking experience lasts 15 to 45 minutes, with 2 to 12 minutes of that time being actual intercourse, according to the authors of "Men’s Sexual Health."

Second, be wary of quick-fixes. Some resources will suggest remedies that most experts would not recommend. Mechanical devices, like a penile rubber ring or Velcro testicular band, usually don’t work.

Anesthetic products, namely over-the-counter desensitizing sprays and creams, should also be avoided for their numbing effect. Canadian researchers have found that while men using such products last a bit longer, they disliked the numb feeling. Their partners, too, complained of numb vulvas and vaginas.

Wearing two condoms, using a desensitizing cream, or thinking aversive thoughts are also not a good idea. These can be harmful for primarily two reasons: They reduce a male’s arousal, which can lead to difficulties with erection instead of response control, and these methods isolate the male from his lover, causing a strain on their bond with emotional isolation.

Third, commit yourself to learning to control your sexual response. Behavior therapy is by far the most effective way to tackle this problem. Self-training techniques involve the following major components:

1. Staying mentally focused, while learning to relax your body;

2. Getting in touch with your arousal, first during masturbatory activities and then with a partner;

3. Learning to recognize your point of inevitability and “pulling back” before you surpass it;

4. Developing PC (pubococcygeus or pelvic floor) muscle control;

5. Temporarily ignoring your partner’s body and state of arousal, as not to get too excited.

With all of these in mind, two major techniques are often recommended by sex therapists:

— Stop-Start Technique: Here, the male works on becoming more aware of his sensations as he approaches climax. He identifies his level of excitement and keeps it at that level. He must recognize that he’s about to finish before it occurs, and relax. Right before reaching his point of inevitability, he’ll take a 30 to 60 second break. When he’s with a partner, he’ll do the same, eventually graduating to being able to slow down or change what he’s doing in holding off during sexual activity.

This procedure works best if a couple starts with manual stimulation, eventually moving on to oral stimulation, then finally intercourse (perhaps over the course of weeks), with woman-on-top the best position for resuming intercourse. This is because he can relax in using a minimal thrusting motion. No matter what the sex act, their goal is to diffuse any sexual tension he’s feeling before stimulation resumes.

— Squeeze Technique: This more advanced method involves a couple, practicing manual stimulation, stopping all movement when the man is about to reach his point of inevitability. One of the lovers then squeezes his penis, for 3 to 4 seconds, using the thumb and first or second forefingers at the very base of his penis or at the ridge under his penis head. This maneuver snuffs out his desire to finish, and needs to be repeated several times during genital stimulation in mastering holding off.

Click here to read 'Sexpert Q & A: The Art of a Seductive Strip Tease.'

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Dr. Yvonne Kristín Fulbright is a sex educator, relationship expert, columnist and founder of Sexuality Source Inc. She is the author of several books including, "Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots."

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