After last week's interruption of our Monday Q&A sessions here (with Confessions of a Sexy and Sexy-Happy Hubby featuring my favorite guy, "Mr. Spock"), I'm back to fielding your questions. Here's today's question:
I have a husband who desperately desires sex more (we are going through 29 days to great sex currently and it is fantastic!) The problem we seem to be encountering is that unlike me, he has a hard time climaxing sometimes. Mostly when he is tired, but I almost always am ready before he is. Sometimes its ok, and I can go twice, but sometimes it's just been too long and my lady parts can't take it anymore :-/ It's not an issue of being aroused.. he describes it like he doesn't have enough control to be able to make it happen. Any suggestions??
I guarantee that this is a problem for more than one wife out there. Sure, we hear how hubbies are eager beavers and can barely hold back their climax, but that isn't always the way things play out in the marital bedroom. Sometimes, no matter how much he wants to get there, it's a challenge.
Let's start with understanding why this might happen to any husband, and then we'll go into what to do about it. So what are some causes of a husband having a difficult time reaching climax?
Age. As men age, the nerve endings in their penis become less sensitive, so what used to make them fire off a round easily may not quite get them there anymore.
Drugs. Medications can interfere with ejaculation. Specifically, most anti-depressants, anti-hypertensives (high blood pressure meds), anti-psychotic drugs, and some diuretics. In addition, excessive alcohol, marijuana use, or opiates can have a dulling effect on the ability to climax.
Disease or Injury. Husbands with diabetes, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and injury to the pelvic region can experience difficulty in orgasming. For all of these, the nerves in the genital area have been negatively affected, so arousal to climax is more difficult.
Masturbation. While I fall on the side that masturbation isn't by definition sinful (see Two Wives & Candid Conversation about Masturbation), it is often not advisable. If you masturbate often, you train yourself to react to that more efficient form of arousal, rather than the slower--and vastly more relationship-building--interaction with your honey. Husbands may then have difficulty achieving orgasm with intercourse rather than self-stimulation.
A quick note about Pornography: If your husband is viewing pornography as well, that adds yet another barrier to achieving orgasm through regular sexual contact. Porn is a shortcut to arousal, and those addicted to porn may become physiologically unable to take the long way home.
Performance Anxiety. If a man has difficulty achieving climax, the next time he may worry about achieving climax, which makes it hard to achieve climax, meaning he will now worry more about achieving climax, thus making it harder... Yeah, you get the point. Stress and anxiety hinder our ability to perform in all areas--from public speaking to getting the torpedo out of the chute.
Pregnancy Fear. If the wife wants to conceive, and the husband isn't ready or willing to become a papa, he may subconsciously withhold his "seed." If for some reason, a wife is in that spot, she needs to address it. You simply shouldn't bring a child into this world without husband and wife both willing to parent. 'Nuff said.
Relationship Issues. For both husband and wife, there is vulnerability and openness involved in sexually engaging and climaxing. The husband may not even be consciously aware that he's doing it, but if he feels resentment or frustration with his wife, it can carry over into his ability to ejaculate inside her.
By the way, Fatigue didn't show up on the lists of causes I looked through. But my personal, anecdotal evidence is that sometimes we spouses are just too pooped to pop. So yeah, I think being especially tired can be a contributing factor, especially as a man ages and it takes longer effort to reach climax.
Now on to how to address "retarded ejaculation" (its medical term). According to an article from the Boston University School of Medicine: "Ejaculatory dysfunction is always perceived as a couple’s issue. Resolving the
problem is most successful when both partners can work together as a team toward
a successful solution." I'm certain that God would agree with that one. In marriage, you are "one flesh" and what happens to one of you in the bedroom happens to both of you.
Communication. High-five to the reader who posed this question! She and her husband have already talked about the problem, so it's out there. They want to work on it together. Through their conversations, she has a better understanding of what's going on with him ("he describes it like he doesn't have enough control to be able to make it happen"). Please, wives, don't read this article with the attitude of diagnosing him, informing him of what's happening with his own body, and demanding that he get in line with your solution. That's not communication; that's lecture.
Open up the lines of communication by mentioning that you want him to have the best possible sexual experience. You can include about how hard it can be for your body to continue at some point, so the two of you should try to figure out how to get him to climax earlier. But don't make him feel that he has failed (giving him performance anxiety). More likely, his body has failed him. Ask him to explain how it feels--what is different about before and now. Ask how he would like it to feel. Ask if he is experiencing stress or tension. Just ask questions. Then LISTEN.
Medical Examination. You need to know if the body itself is working like it should. If hubby is on medications, and suddenly he's slow to climax, the easiest fix may be a different drug. Let's go with the easiest fix, right? Ask your husband to visit a doctor. You can offer to go with him, or let him go alone if he's more comfortable discussing the issue without you in the room. However, he should be willing to share the results of the doctor visit. Just start with finding out if the body is in sync.
Treatment. Secular sources I found often suggest having the man masturbate until right before orgasm, then penetrating his partner. Slowly, they suggest, a man can spend less time with masturbation and more time thrusting inside his partner, thus retraining his body toward ejaculation with intercourse.
Pah! I say. Sexual intimacy should be, well, intimate. It involves two people interacting with each other physically to provide arousal to and closeness with one another. Also, this is a we problem; remember the quote above? There's got to be some approach to this issue that focuses on the two of you together and doesn't involve self-stimulation as the ultimate answer.
So here are some other ideas:
1. Wait a sufficient amount of time in between. If you are having sex every day or every other day, that may be too often for a husband struggling with slow ejaculation. Space out your interactions to every few days. Of course, don't go too long. Your body tends to adjust to what it receives, and you don't want the "new normal" to be too little physical intimacy in your marriage.
2. Cease masturbation. If the husband has trained his body to become quickly aroused and climax through self-stimulation, it may be interfering with arousal and climax in sexual intercourse. The best way to retrain yourself is to stop the old, harmful habit and replace it with a new, beneficial habit.
3. Spend more time in foreplay. Instead of having the husband masturbate almost to climax, the husband can coach his wife toward stimulating him enough in other ways that he feels very close. Find out what he finds particularly arousing. Is it viewing you in full light? Turning you on to the point of orgasm? Receiving fellatio (oral sex) from you? Getting a "hand job"? (Use lube, lube, lube!) Get him close, and then get him in. Over time, have him enter earlier and earlier in that process to retrain himself toward climaxing inside you.
4. Use lots of lubricant. If a wife is okay with going longer for the husband to ejaculate, she can keep a bottle of lubricant handy. Reapply often and generously because, after ongoing friction, a woman tends to have less lubrication and feel discomfort with continued thrusting. There are many brands of lubricant (KY, Astroglide, and others), as well as the natural option of coconut oil.
5. Apply sufficient pressure. As I read about this problem, a recurring message was that plenty of men with retarded ejaculation could reach orgasm through masturbation, which provided more intense pressure and speedier thrusting than is often the case with sexual intercourse. It makes sense, therefore, to me that you might wish to try different positions to see if angle makes a difference in the pressure applied on his penis. You could also use your hand to apply more pressure at the base of his penis while your husband is inside your vagina (this may be easiest with the woman-on-top position). Also--while I have a love/hate relationship with them--it's never a bad idea for a wife to do some Kegel exercises to keep the musculature of the vagina strong. You can even work to flex those muscles with him inside you, thus providing more pressure to his penis to assist ejaculation.
6. Don't worry about his climax. Ask a guy when he's done with sex, and he'll probably say when he's ejaculated. But it isn't necessary for a man to come to have a great time in the bedroom with his wife. As men age in particular, they may find that there are those times when the length of time it would take to ejaculate isn't "worth it," so to speak. The husband can still enjoy the physical closeness with his wife and walk away happy even if he doesn't ejaculate. You don't have to reach the peak every single time to enjoy a beautiful hike up the mountain. Taking the pressure off may actually have the effect of making it easier for the hubby to achieve orgasm, since performance anxiety could be a factor--whether primary or secondary.
Since retarded ejaculation is not widely diagnosed, there isn't a plethora of information about treating it. The general take from the experts is to check for medical reasons that can be treated and to focus on reconditioning the man's sexual response.
I'm a believer that Christianity affects every single part of our lives. As such, I thought about 1 Corinthians 13 as I was writing this, and how it even applied to this situation. So if I were dealing with this issue with my husband, I would be wise to consider that:
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
Be patient and kind as you approach your husband about his sexual performance. Let bygones be bygones and work toward protecting, trust, hoping, and persevering with each other. My continued blessings for this reader and all those who struggle with sexual problems in their marriage.
Sources: WebMD, Boston University School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, International Society for Sexual Medicine, GoFish Ministries blog, The Marriage Bed