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I Ejaculate Too Fast! How Can I Fix This?

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draa369 asks:

Once intercourse begins I ejaculate in about 20-30 seconds give or take. I want to be able to last longer in bed. I hear my roommate go for an hour or more. This is embarrassing to the point that many girls express interest in me but I try my best to avoid them due to the disappointment which I know they will face when we have intercourse. I want to be able to last long during intercourse and please my partner. These days a healthy relationship includes pleasing the woman sexually, something I know I am not presently capable of doing. I don't want to get in a meaningful relationship only to have it end because I suck in bed. What can I do? Should I seek some some sort of sex teacher to help me with this issue or do I have to live with this fault?

Johanna Schorn replies:

It sounds like you're really struggling with these expectations you have for yourself. Let’s see if we can’t help you feel a little better about yourself.

First, let me see if I can’t put this in perspective a little by clearing up a misconception. The average time it takes someone with a penis to ejaculate once vaginal intercourse starts is just shy of around six minutes. Now, that's just an average figure, and the numbers here can vary greatly depending on a lot of factors, including age (and you can read more on that here if you're interested). And for much younger people, or sexually inexperienced people, ejaculation often happens more quickly than that. feeling really nervous about it and freaking out about how long you'll last can also be a bit self-fulfilling and result in ejaculating sooner.

So, you may be on the faster end of the spectrum so far in your life, but you’re by no means as far from the average as you seem to fear. If you are still concerned about this from a medical standpoint, there's no harm in talking this over with a doctor and getting checked out, of course. You might also feel better by having a conversation about it. You and a doctor or educator could also talk about some things to help you feel more comfortable or confident which might also extend this time when it comes to what you really want for yourself, things like masturbating before dates, using condoms, making sure you're taking time with partners to build trust so you feel more comfortable with whatever happens during sex, or extending other kinds of sex before engaging in intercourse (which you can even extend to the point that your partner already feels satisfied and/or reaches orgasm before orgasm begins, which can take a lot of this pressure off).

But ejaculating quickly, in itself, is not necessarily a sign of a problem. Especially in an otherwise healthy young person.

With that said, what I would like to do here is not to give you tips on how to "last longer," but rather on how you can frame this differently.

Firstly, you’ll want to try and not let yourself be influenced so much by what you think others expect in the bedroom, or what you assume others do in the bedroom. The truth is that our popular image of sex, the way sex is often portrayed in the media or on TV, is not actually how sex usually works in real life. Heck, often even the way that people talk about sex isn't often the way that sex works in real life: Plenty of people exaggerate how long they "last," because there is a very pervasive narrative in our culture of judging people based on that. However, that is not always very realistic. Plenty of people or the media also often present sex as being about intercourse alone or mostly, when in reality, people with satisfying sex lives they enjoy rarely are just having intercourse.

Let's look at your idea that you roommate is having intercourse for an hour at a time. Aside from the fact that the vast majority of people with pensises will ejaculate before that, as you can see from the average numbers I mentioned above, intercourse that goes on for that long is also not likely to be very comfortable or awesome for the person with the vagina. Rather, people tend to switch things up and engage in various different forms of sex – such as manual sex or oral sex, for example. So, when it sounds like your roommate is going at it for an hour? They are probably not having intercourse that entire time. If they are, chances are that everyone in the room isn't having the best time ever.

In this context, it is important to remember that intercourse is not the be-all-end-all of sex for most people. It is a sexual activity many people do engage in and enjoy, but it is not inherently better or more important or more meaningful than any other, nor the activity that equals satisfaction for everyone, no matter how long it goes on for. And since it is not necessarily and automatically the "climax" of sex, there is no need for sexual activity to be over just because you’ve ejaculated.

There are plenty of sexual activities that don’t require an erect penis -- just like there are plenty that don't require an erect clitoris -- so you can switch back to something else after intercourse; or chose not to engage in intercourse at all and go for other activities instead. It’s all about what works best for you and your partner, after all.

It's great that you are looking out for your partner and her enjoyment, as well. However, I see you making assumptions about what it is that will please your partners: that they are all interested in intercourse, and will feel pleasure only from that or that that alone will satisfy them. And, well, that’s just not sound. For one thing, women are individuals with individual likes and dislikes. Sure, plenty of women do enjoy intercourse, but there are also plenty of women who don’t like it very much -- especially when that's all or most of what's happening -- and plenty who can take it or leave it. So, it’s no good assuming that women, as a whole, require a specific activity in a specific way to feel pleasure. Rather, to know what the specific partner you are with wants and likes, you will have to ask her. She is the only one who can tell you, and if she is not sure yet herself, you can go exploring together.

Another thing to keep in mind is that, both due to anatomy and other factors, intercourse alone is actually not likely to bring someone with a vagina to orgasm. While the vagina has lots of sensory nerve endings right around the entrance, it doesn’t have very many at all further in, and the external clitoris has may more than either of those places -- which often isn't well-stimulated by intercourse alone -- so it's not surprising that about 80% of women won't reach orgasm from intercourse alone or do so more than really. And again, that's whether it goes on for a few minutes or 20 minutes. So, while, yes, some women enjoy intercourse very much, it is not likely the only thing that ever gets them off, and certainly not the only thing that creates pleasure. And for most women, your concerns about not pleasing them just because of this are displaced. Pleasing a partner is much more likely to be about other things -- like how creative, responsive and communicative you are, and how much you don't just focus on intercourse, really.

It's also sound to remember that when it comes to big concerns about length of time to ejaculation or penis size, those are largely male concerns men have about themselves they project unto women (when they do), rather than concerns most women have. As well, any sexual partner you have is much more likely to feel disappointed by you being stressed out or bummed out than they are by when you ejaculate. And the great news about that is that changing our attitudes and ideas is something we have way more ability to do than changing how our bodies work.

Hopefully, what I've told you here will allow you to relax some and not place so much pressure on yourself (or your partners!). Sex is not an exam, and you are not failing at it if you ejaculate "too early." Sex is about what brings pleasure to you and your partner throughout the whole experience, whatever that is at a given time – so, necessarily, it is completely individual and unique to your and your partner. And it's about a lot more than your penis or when you ejaculate.

And because sex is so highly individual, and different every time and with every new partner, there is really no use worrying about it in advance. What someone wants or doesn't want, what the unique chemistry is like between the two of you - those are things that you'll discover in time. So my advice to you is to take a deep breath, and to relax. Go into encounters with an open mind, and communicate with your partners. Don’t make any assumptions about what they want and need, and try not to psych yourself out so much with "performing" in a specific way. Sex is supposed to be fun, after all.

Here are some more links that might be helpful for you:

written 03 Mar 2012 . updated 21 Jan 2014

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