Sexual Dysfunction in Marriage: Dealing with Premature Ejaculation and Delayed Ejaculation

Sexual Dysfunction in Marriage: When things just aren't working for him

We’re in the middle of a 3-part series on sexual dysfunction in marriage, and today we’re going to tackle two thorny problems: premature ejaculation and delayed ejaculation.

In movies everything always works so well! He’s attracted to her, she’s attracted to him, and they fall into bed together and everything goes like clockwork. But what if the CLOCK is part of the problem? Either he seems like he’s playing “beat the clock”, and he ejaculates too quickly to make sex satisfying for her (or even really for him), or he the clock goes on–and on–and on. And it never seems to end!

Both these problems can make sex so stressful, and we’re never warned about that. We’re told sex is going to be this great thing that is natural, and easy, and it doesn’t take much to get it right. But what if, for you as a married couple, it does?

Yesterday we looked at some of the issues with erectile dysfunction, and while they’re related, premature ejaculation and delayed ejaculation are a little bit different. So let’s turn to those today.

Good Girls Guide My SiteSexual Dysfunction #1: Premature Ejaculation

In The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex, when I was writing about the problems in the bedroom that guys can have, I said that premature ejaculation is a really unfortunate term. Because how do we define it? The most basic definition is a husband who ejaculates before his wife has a chance to experience pleasure. But by that definition a guy who lasts fifteen minutes could be labelled having a problem if his wife lasts 30 minutes!

Other definitions have focused on the time it takes to reach orgasm. If it’s under two minutes, for instance, many people call that premature ejaculation. But most men can reach orgasm in that short an amount of time–if they’re not trying to wait for longer. So let’s for the sake of our discussion today define premature ejaculation as a man who reaches climax very early during intercourse–say in the first three minutes–and is unable to last any longer.

Sexual Dysfunction in Marriage

Who Has Premature Ejaculation?

Some men, from their first sexual encounter, have premature ejaculation. Indeed, it’s not that uncommon for a guy’s first encounter to be awfully short. Most men, after that initial episode, though, can start stretching out the encounters. Some men, however, never really are able to do that.

Men who have used porn, or who have masturbated extensively in the formative years, also often suffer from premature ejaculation. Not all cases of PE are caused by porn; but many porn users do report experiencing PE. Because they have trained the brain to respond to stimulus very quickly, rather than enjoying the experience of arousal, they have a difficult time lasting.

How Can We Cure PE?

If porn use is the root cause:

Like I said yesterday, quit the porn. If your husband is using porn, nothing else you do will help with the problem. You have to deal with the root first, and that means quitting porn and masturbation. Many men once they quit find that their brains reset and that the problem starts to fix itself.

If this is a longstanding problem not due to porn:

His body needs to learn to enjoy the sensation of arousal, and learn to delay ejaculation. Several techniques can help with this:

1. Play the Stop and Start Game

Start making love, but have him keep track of his arousal levels, on a scale of 1-10. Men who suffer from premature ejaculation often will go from a 6 to a 10 almost immediately. Once he reaches a 6, for instance, stop for a few minutes and have him stimulate you, and you alone. Then start again. Spend a lot of time on foreplay and not as much on intercourse as you start to use this technique, because starting and stopping intercourse can be a little frustrating for both of you. Once you’re able to drag out arousal using other kinds of stimulation, then begin introducing intercourse to the mix.  A good idea is to do the stop-and-start by using different positions, so that you’re moving from one to the other and the stimulation isn’t regular.

It can take quite a bit of time to master this technique, and it doesn’t work for all. But it is a good thing to try, and many people just find it fun anyway (and it often is more satisfying for her if he’s spending more time making her feel good!)

2. Start and Stop Just with Stimulating Him

Similar to above, but this time just stimulate him. When he starts to get really aroused, stop and make him control his breathing. Do this once or twice a week and drag out the experience for longer each time.

3. Bring him to Orgasm Earlier in the Day

Sometimes men have an easier time lasting if they’ve already reached orgasm. So a “quickie” earlier in the day can help him last later.

4. Get Some Help

A reader recommends the book Coping with Premature Ejaculation: How to Overcome PE, Please your Partner and Have Great Sex. It isn’t a Christian book, but it has been one of the few things that has helped in her marriage. So you can look at that as well!

Sexual Dysfunction #2: Delayed Ejaculation

If you’ve been making love for quite a while, and your husband just can’t seem to reach climax, or you often stop before he’s finished, then he could have delayed ejaculation. The causes of delayed ejaculation are quite similar to those of erectile dysfunction: there’s a problem in that not enough blood goes to the penis to make it hard enough, and then not enough arousal is present to achieve climax.

When Delayed Ejaculation Has Physical Causes

In some cases, like in erectile dysfunction, it could be a sign of physical issues: circulation problems; heart problems; obesity; diabetes; medication side effects; or excessive alcohol or tobacco use.

It’s always a good idea to have your husband see a doctor if this is a persistent problem to rule out any kind of health problem.

To help with delayed ejaculation, your husband needs to learn to concentrate on his own arousal, because he isn’t able to experience it as arousing enough to send him over the edge. So spend some time just touching him and pleasuring him without actual intercourse. Once he’s able to reach orgasm that way, get him very excited and only then start intercourse. Help him to close his eyes and just think about the sensation–not about anything else.

When Delayed Ejaculation Has Relationship Causes

If you have had your own share of sexual problems early in your marriage, your husband may feel guilty about enjoying sex, or may feel guilty about finishing. Sex is such a complex thing; a guy can start a marriage being completely excited about sex, but if he feels as if you don’t want it, or you feel uncomfortable or painful during sex, then that can affect his own ability to feel pleasure, even if you’ve overcome your own issues.

Allowing him to experience real pleasure and to concentrate on himself can jumpstart this and help you reboot.

Taking the initiative to start sex, too, can show him “I want this. This isn’t something I’m doing just for you.” That can change the dynamic and can help him feel free to enjoy it, and not guilty, thinking “she doesn’t really want to be doing this.” So take a deep breath, try to put the past behind you, and just enjoy being together. Show him that this is something you want, and that you do love being with him.

When Delayed Ejaculation is Caused by an Arousal Addiction–like Porn or Video Games

In other cases, though, it could be a problem not with the circulation system, or with the relationship, but with the arousal process in the brain.

Philip Zimbardo is a Ph.D. psychologist studying men, and in his TED Talk, The Demise of Guys (and I’m paraphrasing because he was talking really fast), he said this:

Arousal Addictions

We’ve become so desensitized because of porn use that what is “normal” is no longer arousing, and people need more and weirder and different to achieve the same level of stimulation.

This is why erectile dysfunction and delayed ejaculation are often two sides of the same coin; with erectile dysfunction the man isn’t able to stay stimulated; with delayed ejaculation the man isn’t able to get stimulated enough. In both cases they need something MORE, and that more was fed to them by porn when the arousal mechanisms in the brain went haywire.

There’s a community of porn addicts on the internet at Your Brain on Porn, who have congregated together to abstain from porn and masturbation and “reset” their brains. It’s not a Christian site, and so I certainly don’t agree with everything that’s said, but there is a wealth of information there and it’s one of the best resources I’ve found on the internet to “see inside” what these guys go through. And what many of them say is that, when they’re using porn, they stop being able to get aroused naturally. Even when they’re having sex, they can’t climax unless they’re watching porn at the same time. Without the porn, they just aren’t aroused enough.

And here’s what’s interesting about what Zimbardo said: this effect is true not only with porn, but also with other arousal addictions. An addiction to video games, for instance, mimics the effects of porn on the brain, where the dopamine receptors are looking for more and more intense stimulation to reach the same high. And so video games become more graphic and more fast-paced. So even if the arousal addiction is not with pornography it can still affect the arousal processes in the brain.

How Do We Deal with Arousal Addictions?

If a guy is suffering from some sort of arousal addiction he just simply has to stop. The community at Your Brain on Porn finds that 90 days seems to be the amount of time it takes most people to rewire the arousal process.

So 90 days with no sex, no masturbation, no porn–and, if necessary, no video games.

Here’s what I like about that: it allows you to work on your relationship, and it allows the man to start experiencing life again instead of constantly feeling like he has to get back to the computer or video game.

Here’s what I don’t like about it: I don’t believe that true healing can come without a spiritual dimension to the problem. We have to acknowledge that we have sinned against God and against our spouse, and we have to ask God to fill us with His Spirit so that we can have self-control. I don’t think will power alone can fix most people; in fact, Romans 7 is all about Paul showing how will power isn’t enough. We need the Holy Spirit.

I think the 90 day reset if this is a real problem due to some sort of an addiction is a great idea. But I think that 90 days also needs to be filled with some prayer sessions, some counseling with a pastor and mentor, and some accountability. A guy has let some sort of an addiction steal his time and his focus away from his wife–and away from the rest of his life. Think about the emotional and mental energy he has wasted on other pursuits! This needs to be a time of real repentance if real change is going to be made.

Porn is not harmless
I know it sounds like I’m blaming it all on porn…

And I absolutely know that in many cases sexual dysfunction is a physical issue, or it’s something that a guy only realized he suffered from once he was married, and there wasn’t an arousal addiction reason. In those cases, trying some of the techniques here can really help. But sexologists, urologists, and marriage counselors are seeing such a huge spike in sexual dysfunction in the last decade due mostly to porn (and to some extent video games). This can’t be ignored. So spread the word about the Top 10 Effects of Porn, and let’s help people to see that porn is not harmless, and that it really can wreck marriages–and your sex life!

The problem is similar to diabetes, really. We call all diabetes “diabetes”. But it’s really two completely different causes. One usually shows up in childhood, and there’s very little you can do about it. The other usually shows up in adulthood, and is highly correlated with lifestyle issues. We may call them the same thing, and they may have similar symptoms, but they’re really two very distinct causes, and that’s what’s going on here, too. Erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and delayed ejaculation can all have physical causes, but they can also be caused by porn.

Today I dealt more with the porn side. Tomorrow we’re going to look at how to reboot your sex life when porn is NOT the cause of sexual dysfunction, but your husband has another cause for erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or delayed ejaculation.

This post contains some affiliate links, and was partially sponsored. The opinions in it are entirely my own.

 

Comments

  1. Butterflywings says:

    While my first husband was messed up in his views on sex by porn, his severe delayed ejaculation (not able to ejaculate after 1-2 hours of sex by which time one or both of us would give up) was due to drug use. People constantly say marijuana has few negative effects, but they’ve never been married to a marijuana addict and not seen the mammoth sexual dysfunction it causes.

    As for advice… I can offer this – at least for premature ejaculation, bringing your husband to orgasm early in the day (even by hand) works great for allowing him to last longer when you do have sex. Some couples I know with this problem even get around this by bringing the husband to orgasm by hand, then starting on the woman’s pleasure, and then by the time the woman is “ready” the man is ready for sex and able to last longer. It apparently can work quite well.

  2. As to premature ejaculation, a serious challenge or problem for some younger husbands, one thing to try is to slow down and avoid the rapid thrusting early on during the lovemaking. Try changing positions during sex. Every man is different, but the husband may find that one position allows him greater control or at least reduces the stimulation sufficiently so that he can last longer. When many years younger, I found that rear entry (“doggy”) reduces the stimulation some and allowed for more control. “Cowgirl”, or wife on top, also worked, even better. Thus, the couple may want to vary the positions during lovemaking, opting to start out with the one that the husband feels less stimulated by. When the time is right, they can easily switch to the position in which the husband most enjoys ejaculating in. Not only for the wife, but for the husband also, ejaculation at the right time is more enjoyable. (As well, another option, as noted above, is to have your husband orgasm earlier in the day. This relieves some of the “urgency” to ejaculate that some men feel.)

    Some may say that premature ejaculation is a learned behavior, and can be “unlearned”. I don’t know, but open communication and patience can help the husband. (I do think that this can occur in men who have not used porn.)

    Now that I am older (mid 50s), I do tend to take longer to climax. My wife really does not mind, as it is not a case of being unable to do so.

  3. We have an unusual problem that causes delayed ejaculation on some occasions. I guess I’ll call it birth control guilt. See, as Christians, we are constantly bombarded by the view that we should have as many children as God would give us. We have two children and conceived very easily both times. But I had a difficult pregnancy and delivery and was advised further pregnancies may be dangerous. That being said, I do not feel comfortable using any form of birth control that may be abortive in nature. Nor do we feel led to alter our bodies surgically. So that leaves us in a pickle. We will use a condom, but we both prefer “bare” lovemaking so much more. So we don’t always use it until he feels he is getting close. This causes a huge interruption and really slows things down. He also “holds back” a lot because we are both so leery of conceiving. While this might not seem like much of a problem, it is hard to “let go” and enjoy the love. There are marriage blogs I have had to stop reading because of the intense guilt they put on women who use birth control of any kind, even natural family planning. Maybe you’ll be dealing with this in tomorrow’s post, but while our issue is a strange one, maybe there is someone out there dealing with something similar. Personally, I hate condoms, they make me feel “not married” – like we’re not connecting the way God intended. But what else can we do? I’m far too irregular for NFP (I’m talking cycles from 28 days to 50 days). So all of this “baggage” plus the guilt about not just “letting things happen” – it all takes a toll. People on other blogs have accused me of not trusting God, and that’s hurtful. I nearly bled to death after delivery, and that has caused me to be frightened. What I should do is pray. We should pray about this issue a lot more.

    • Butterflywings says:

      Becca I don’t think your problem is at all unusual. I imagine it to be similar to how my husband felt when he was undecided about wanting to start trying for a baby. For him it wasn’t delayed ejaculation, for him it was struggle to get interested in sex just in case he got pregnant before he was ready. I think it’s an issue a lot of men struggle with – either trying to get it up or keep it up or orgasm when there is fear of getting pregnant.

      I must admit I find those who say it’s “not trusting God” to use non abortive contraception to really be way of base. So many teenagers fall for that when they have premarital sex – they just think “oh God wouldn’t want me to fall pregnant, if I pray I won’t fall pregnant”. I’m sure most christian teens who had premarital sex and fell pregnant felt they were totally trusting God to not fall pregnant and learned the hard way that God’s protection doesn’t always extend to protecting us when we wilfully do something dangerous. In your case, falling pregnant would be dangerous. What you’re doing is the sensible thing and I think the Godly thing – you are taking precautions, and trusting God that those precautions won’t fail.

      That’s what the whole human condition is about – we cannot do nothing and expect God to just rescue us constantly. We have a duty to be as responsible in life as we can, and then to trust God for everything else we cannot take responsible for. God isn’t there to our guardian angel to constantly protect us from the consequences of our own actions. He may choose to sometimes, but not always. We have a duty to take care of the bodies He has given us, with the only proviso that we do so in a Godly way.

    • We are in a similar situation.
      Another pregnancy is not what we want, I’m not going on the pill for all sorts of reasons, and abstinence is not good for a marriage.
      I have heard that a diaphragm is less “interrupting” than a condom, but haven’t looked into it yet. That might be a good idea for both of us!!

      Meanwhile, there is nothing wrong with knowing that another child is not a good idea for you. Children are a blessing; I’m sure the two you have are a great blessing to you. But that doesn’t mean you have to have a dozen!

    • Becca,
      My heart aches for you. Remember, God’s grace covers all things. If you NEED a form of birth control to protect you from pregnancy then I do not think this is a lack of trust in God. We live in a fallen world and things happen. We do the best we can and make the best decisions for ourselves and our families. Using birth control is not a sin, at least in my humble opinion, and sometimes it is necessary in certain situations.

      And I would go further to say, that if you want to talk about not just letting things happen, then our society does that very thing with childbirth. There is a high percentage of unnecessary interventions being done to women such as induction before 40 weeks, epidurals and other drugs being used too early, and 1 in 3 women having unnecessary c-sections. I have been a childbirth educator and birth assistant for over 20 years and have seen many changes over the years in the management of labor and birth, and much of it not beneficial. BUT, sometimes it is necessary for the use of intervention during a birth — I have seen those cases and even recommended something to a laboring mother — and we are fortunate for when those things can be done to help a mother and baby. We don’t sit back and say we don’t trust in God because that would be irresponsible. And I believe the same is true with many other things in life, including birth control.

      God knows where you are at and He is not going to stop loving you for making a decision that could be beneficial for your health, both physically and mentally. May you find peace and clear direction.

      Blessings to you!
      Amy recently posted…A guest postMy Profile

    • Becca, here’s the way I see it. God designed our bodies with very definite signs when we would be fertile. Cervical mucous changes throughout the cycle; your temperature changes. There are signs. Why did He do it that way?

      I think it’s because He wanted us to be able to choose.

      I do respect those who want to trust God and have the number of children He brings them, but I have also seen women absolutely exhausted with 12 kids, and often in very poor health, and I’m not sure that’s ideal at all.

      We each need to go to God and ask what He would have for our families. I agree that using birth control that could cause an abortion is wrong, but there are plenty of other things you can do. I did write a blog post a while ago on how you can do a combination of not using any birth control on the days when you definitely can’t get pregnant, and then using a condom or diaphragm or something like that on the days that you are fertile. For many couples that really helps.

      Yes, God wants us to trust Him, but I also think He wants us to be responsible, and in your case it wouldn’t be responsible to your husband or children to be pregnant again. So I think that is trusting God–trusting God by walking in obedience to what He has told you about your specific circumstance.

    • It’s okay, Becca. Don’t feel guilty. I’m right there with you – except that I haven’t had children yet and my life isn’t officially in danger if I became pregnant.
      I promised my mother when I was young that I would never take birth control medications and I still live by that. We don’t believe in them because they are unnatural and harmful to you body. They can even be linked to health problems in future children. So that is a no-go for us. I also can’t stand the thought of trying to put something inside me like a diaphragm (I can’t even handle tampons. They hurt and I’ve nearly fainted with the stress of trying to get one in.). We’ve also used condoms and spermicide, but I must have some sort of reaction to the spermicide because it makes me itch unbearably until it all drains out, which takes FOREVER. When we were first married we did use condoms but after a few months ended up using the “pull out” method. I know that this site said some nasty things about that method, but I strongly disagree on all of her points. (I never did comment on that post but I probably should.) Anyway, it really is a reliable form of birth control. I know WAY more friends who have gotten pregnant while on the pill or using condoms. I don’t know anyone WHO HAS ACTUALLY PULLED OUT and gotten pregnant. And it really sounds like it’s close to what you guys are doing, anyway.
      This is why I like it:
      1. It does build a lot of trust between the husband and the wife. You also get to know each other’s responses better. I can tell when he is going to go so it’s not just in his hands. I can control it, too, and help him pull out.
      2. It does build trust with God. You have to realize that women with their tubes tied have gotten pregnant and men with vasectomies have sired children. Nothing is impossible with God. If he wants something to happen, it will happen. With that knowledge, I admit to God that he can do anything he wants to do. I am not just having sex and doing absolutely NOTHING to prevent the sperm from getting to the egg, but I am also not going to go to unnecessary great lengths (statistically speaking there is not a great percentage difference between most of the birth control methods – yes I have done my research) to try to insure that something will not happen that is ultimately out of my control – apart from practicing abstinence.
      3. It doesn’t interrupt the flow of things like putting on a condom does.
      4. It’s harder for the man to keep his erection with a condom on and condoms can be painful for the woman if you hit the ring the wrong way. It’s also harder for both to feel anything and for the woman to not dry out – even if using lubricant.
      4. It really doesn’t cut intercourse short by much. Let’s face it: When he goes, the party is over, anyway. If it’s inside you and you haven’t gone, you’re out of luck. If he pulls out and you (sorry to be graphic) grind on him to keep him going and help him have a good finish, then usually that gives you enough stimulation to go too – a second time, hopefully. :) You have to be comfortable with that, though.

      I guess I’m just saying, I don’t feel guilty for the way we do things, and I don’t want you to feel guilty either. I know what it’s like for a husband to not get into it because he is worried about getting you pregnant. We have kind of gotten over that with experience, but when it could be life threatening, I know that is a different story. You’re right that you need a lot of prayer as to what to do long term and if there should be some sort of surgery involved. In general, I’m not for that, either. But life or death trumps other health concerns, sometimes. I know it would be agonizing for my husband and I to be in that position. I don’t think I could do surgery, either.
      I guess the biggest question is, were your children planned? And what birth control did you use before/ in between them? If your form of birth control always worked for you before…. why change it? You don’t have to do what everyone else does, and you don’t have to answer to them. Pray for God to take away your guilty feelings, take away your fear, to close your womb and protect you from harm, and to bless your sex life. May God be with you. :)

      • Having used condoms in the early years of our marriage, yes, these do feel unnatural and reduce the stimulation that both spouses experience during lovemaking. Pulling out can work with some practice and communication. The husband and wife can “practice” this during the non-fertile time of the month. (As said above, the wife can help her husband when she feels the changes happening that signal his approaching climax.) For shared intimacy and mutual pleasure, condoms are not very good.

        Abstinence near the time of ovulation, and/or withdrawal are certainly preferable to the methods (regimens and devices) that prevent fertilized eggs (human life at the earliest stages) from successfully implanting in the womb. (By the time the “egg” makes it to the uterus for implanting, it has already divided a number of times and consists of many cells.)
        Larry B of larrysmusings.com recently posted…sometimes it is the little things that push you over the edgeMy Profile

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been reading this column regularly for months now and really enjoy it, and I’m glad to finally see the topic of PE addressed, because it’s been an issue in my marriage for over 25 years now. However, I have some additional information I thought I could share.

    There’s a difference between men who struggle with PE for a period of time (stats say that 40% will experience it) and those for whom it’s *always* an issue (about 6% of the population). For that 40%, causes include stress, relationship struggles, side effects from medication and health problems. The main thing to remember is that if it’s not always been an issue, with patience and understanding, things will return to normal.

    For the 6%, it’s a bit more complicated. Porn is a possible factor, but so is shame from improper teachings about sexuality. (This has been our struggle.) With patience and prayer, we’ve FINALLY dealt with the shame aspect, except there’s also the matter of acquiring skill. When PE is severe, frequency of sex doesn’t matter, quickies don’t help, positions don’t matter, speed doesn’t matter, amount of foreplay doesn’t matter, medications don’t help, stop-and-start is unsuccessful. At it’s most serious, PE means ejaculation before penetration.

    However, help is possible. There are urologists who specialize in male sexual dysfunction, and if the simpler suggestions don’t work, it is worth it to seek one out. We’re following the program in a book recommended by our doctor called “Coping with Premature Ejaculation: How to Overcome PE, Please Your Partner and Have Great Sex” by Barry McCarthy and Michael Metz. Although not specifically for Christians, it’s been extremely helpful for us. The program takes patience and months of work, but we’re finally seeing some results.

    This has been a real challenge in our marriage, but there are some important lessons I’ve learned through this struggle. God does care and He answers prayers about our sex lives. Working through problems can strengthen a marriage, and make us grateful for what we do have. And someday when I finally get to have the sex I’ve longed for, that lasts minutes instead of seconds, I won’t take it for granted.

    It’s been a long and lonely road for me, but if I can help anyone else shorten their time with this struggle, be an answer to prayer or even just to let someone know they’re not the only one, it helps heal my heart.

  5. Premature? I’ll say! I’ve all but given up. I’m lucky if I get 20 seconds from him. I don’t look forward to sex at all and I just feel like a tool. I can’t stand the dissatisfaction anymore. Whatever sex we do have is only for him. I’m not expecting anything great from it anymore because I can’t stand it.

  6. Julie Prins says:

    90 days without sex!!!????? How can anyone do that! That would be severe punishment for the wife, as well!

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