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Without condoms, I only last five minutes: what's wrong with me?

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Kris asks:

My girlfriend and I have been dating for over a year. I have never loved or felt this way about a girl. We have been sexually active ever since we started hooking-up and dated. She has the ring, and I like not having to use a condom. She is the first girl I have never worn a condom with though. At first I could last 15 to 20 min of intense intercourse and now I last 5 min tops. Why am I doing this? It also seems to turn her off and worries her sometimes cause it's not as long. I always get mad at myself and want to go again like I have something to prove. Am I doing this to myself? We do other activities and she and I both love it, I get her to come and orgasm (sometimes) but when we do this it turns me on so much. Could this be another reason why I go so fast?

Heather Corinna replies:

It's very typical for condom use to contribute to longer lasting erections. Because they do reduce sensation somewhat -- especially if you're not putting a little lube inside, or using the thinnest condoms -- and because the ring at the bottom of a condom also constricts the base of the penis, that's a pretty typical effect, and something some men and women consider a bonus of condom use.

It's very normal for men to reach orgasm five minutes after the start of intercourse when it continues. Overall, it takes women longer to reach orgasm than men, particularly if intercourse is all that's going on (and a majority of women -- around 70% in most studies -- won't reach orgasm from intercourse alone no matter how long it goes on for). The Kinsey Institute states that 75% of all males reach orgasm within 2 minutes of the start of intercourse. When people talk about sex going on for hours and hours, they usually are either a) talking about more than just one session of vaginal intercourse, or b) seriously fibbing.

As well, when we get really turned on by our partner's pleasure, it will tend to arouse us more and thus, get us closer to orgasm and can make reaching orgasm easier. Let's bear in mind that you're telling me that not using a condom isn't the only difference here: you also feel differently about this girl than you have other partners, and heightened emotions tend to equal heightened arousal.

I'm not sure why she's being turned off by this, but why not have a talk about it, make clear that this is perfectly normal and average, and that how long you last isn't anything for her to be worried about?

You might point out that when she reaches orgasm relatively quickly, she probably isn't worried about anything: she just knows she was obviously really turned on and that whatever she was doing obviously felt really good! It certainly doesn't mean YOU aren't turned on, after all, nor that you're not interested in sex with her. It also doesn't have to mean any sex you're both having needs to end, if she really isn't finished: after all, your penis isn't the only sex organ you have, you've got hands, a mouth, a whole body to work with and that you seem to already know is enjoyable for you both.

You don't have anything to prove, and if you did, I'm not sure how your penis could prove it for you, any more than the nose on your face could prove anything. :) Being mad at yourself is pretty unproductive, and someone resenting themselves or their bodies, or feeling they have to prove something to themselves or anyone else during sex certainly isn't going to add anything fantastic to your sex life.

I suggest you cut yourself a break, acknowledge this is totally normal, and just have a chat with your partner about this so that you both can relax about it and just enjoy the sex you're having. It sounds like you have a good sex life together, so it'd be a real pity to let the false notion that something is wrong when everything seems pretty darn right muck that up.

written 02 Feb 2008 . updated 21 Jul 2008

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