What Do These Male Sexual Problems Really Mean?
What, you may think, is delayed ejaculation all about? Why does it happen? How come a man isn’t able to ejaculate easily during lovemaking?
Let’s start at the beginning. This is a condition, or as the experts would say, a sexual dysfunction, in which a man has difficulty reaching orgasm and ejaculating during sexual intercourse, or sometimes during masturbation.
Clearly this can cause some major problems: if a couple are trying to have children, there’s an obvious problem.
But more often, the main problem is the simple lack of male orgasm – because the pleasure of ejaculating inside the woman is the natural and satisfying end point of sexual intercourse for the majority of couples.
The effect this can have on a man includes the obvious – lack of sexual satisfaction, frustration, and physical exhaustion – as well as a lowered self-esteem and maybe even a feeling of impotence as a man.
What is less well appreciated is the fact that delayed ejaculation (often shortened to DE for convenience) can have a massive impact on the man’s partner as well.
This is because many women regard being able to excite their male partner and experience his orgasm as a fundamental part of their sexual self-esteem.
In a woman’s mind there is often an association between DE and her own lack of attractiveness, even though in actual fact this is extremely rarely the case.
A man’s difficulty in ejaculating may therefore produce (or reinforce) a lack of intimacy, and possibly more serious emotional distress for a couple.
It’s also a “hidden” sexual dysfunction, for even though it occurs in about 1 man in 12 in the general population, it’s very rarely spoken about, there are few therapists and specialists who know how to treat it, and it may baffle the man and his partner
You can see this puzzlement clearly in the large number of posts on Internet message boards that have accumulated over the years about DE.
Everything that we know about the problem goes against the expectations we have of men as highly sexual creatures who wish to engage in sexual intercourse at every opportunity, and who frequently ejaculate far too quickly for their partner’s (and their own) liking.
Over the years that I’ve been dealing with sexual issues with men, and men’s emotional difficulties in general, I’ve come to understand a great deal about this issue, and in this website I’m going to set out some of the basic facts about how the condition may be treated.
If you’re a man with this issue in his life, you’re not likely to be worried about the formal definition, since you’ll know you’ve got it.
Moreover, retarded or delayed ejaculation hasn’t had much attention until recently, so there isn’t a great definition, but the manual which defines emotional and sexual problems (known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual or DSM IV) probably includes most of the characteristics of DE in the following definition: delayed ejaculation is the persistent or recurrent delay in, or complete absence of, orgasm – and therefore presumably ejaculation – after a normal period of sexual excitement which should be sufficient to bring a man to climax.
I guess that for any man reading this, I don’t need to add that delayed ejaculation usually causes considerable distress or interpersonal difficulty in a relationship.
There are two types: lifelong and acquired delayed ejaculation.
And there is another sub-classification: it can be either “generalized” (in which case it occurs with every sexual partner) or “specific” (in which case it only happens with particular partners).
To complicate the definition it turns out that many men who have this problem can actually masturbate to orgasm quite successfully on their own.
A lot of men who masturbated using a hard and forceful method of self-stimulation during their adolescent years may find it difficult to reach orgasm later in life simply because there isn’t enough friction from a vagina, mouth or anus during partnered sex to stimulate them adequately.
It seems, therefore, that DE can be a learned or conditioned response to the way you masturbated during your adolescence. But this doesn’t explain every case: relationship issues and emotional factors play their part too.
It’s not too surprising that some men with DE say they have intercourse much less often than other men because it’s a condition that really impacts on a man’s self-respect.
And you don’t, when all’s said and done, get as much sexual pleasure as you want. Perhaps unsurprisingly, men with DE seem to have more relationship problems, more anxiety, and indeed even more general health issues than other men.
One especially noticeable characteristic of men with DE is that they have hard and long lasting erections, but that they feel very low levels of sexual arousal.
How Common Is Delayed Ejaculation?
Ejaculatory difficulties like this have always been thought of as very uncommon, only occurring in about 3% of the general population.
The reality, as any therapist will tell you is that difficulties with reaching climax during sex are a problem for more like 10% of men.
On other pages of the site, I’ll have a quick look at what the causes of this problem might be. And I’ll also show you some of ways it can be treated.
Lifelong and Acquired Delayed Ejaculation
Lifelong delayed ejaculation (aka retarded ejaculation) has been present from early adulthood, from the man’s first sexual experiences, while acquired DE has developed somewhere along the way.
Lifelong problems in this area are quite involuntary, and can produce a lot of emotional and practical difficulties for sexual partners – these include frustration, negative thinking on the part of the female partner (“he must be having difficulty ejaculating because I’m not attractive”), resentment, and pain or soreness due to extremely long-lasting intercourse.
In my experience, however, one of the main reasons that men seek help is because they and their partners cannot conceive.
So this is all about finding it difficult or even impossible to ejaculate in circumstances where you’d expect a man to be able to do so easily.
That includes oral sex, genital intercourse, and even masturbation. Some men find it impossible to ejaculate under any circumstances, while others may find they can reach orgasm and “come normally with self pleasuring, or with a particular partner.
Classically, the causes of a lifelong problem of this type was thought to be the product of some kind of emotional issue such as hostility, anxiety, or another emotional difficulty caused by a sexual relationship.
But simpler explanations include the idea that the cause of delayed ejaculation is sexual performance anxiety, or fear of making one’s partner pregnant, or fear and shame around sex.
Certainly a lot of men with difficulty ejaculating seem to have very high expectations of themselves and their performance during sex, with a strong desire to please their partner, satisfy her, and ensure her needs are met, perhaps even at the expense of their own pleasure.
And when you think about the role men play in sex, it’s clear there’s a lot of pressure on us. Generally, we’re expected to lead, to seduce, to romance, to make the first move, and to be expert in bed so that a woman gains pleasure and reaches orgasm through our efforts.
If she doesn’t “come”, it’s probably because we haven’t given her enough foreplay. If we don’t understand what she wants, it’s our fault. And so on. This isn’t a criticism of women, it’s more a reflection of the fact that the values we have around sex put a lot of pressure on men, somewhat unfairly.
And for a man who’s driven by perfectionism or a desire to please his partner, the pressure that sex produces can cause a huge amount of resentment.
Of coursed, if a man’s resentful during sex he’s not being “in the moment” and enjoying himself – he’s distanced from his partner in some way.
That certainly seems to be one reason for delayed ejaculation: the pressure of having to please your partner, or at least feeling that you have to please your partner, and resenting that fact.
It’s also true that many men who experience some degree of delayed ejaculation are experiencing some kind of relationship issues with their partner.
There may be some hostility, or resentment, or anger, or even sexual guilt or shame, within the relationship between the partners.
Other therapists have suggested that when a man can’t ejaculate during intercourse, he might be symbolically withholding himself both psychologically and physically from his partner. His lack of ejaculation is a sign of his lack of intimate involvement with his partner.
And even though this may happen to all of us from time to time, and a single episode of difficulty reaching orgasm is of no concern, because such things can be due to stress or overwork or tiredness, when it’s the normal state of affairs, it can be a massive problem.