Most men have this belief that women would like them to last for a really long time.
Especially inexperienced young men who have received most of their sex education by looking at porn. They see professional actors with porn-star bodies perform unrealistic fantasy sex – with a rock-hard penis – lasting for a very long time. It’s no surprise that for some men all these expectations can damage their confidence.
Unfortunately we are bombarded with society’s ideals of male sexuality in the media, which create unrealistic expectations of how a man should look like and perform in the bedroom. These advertisements prey on the insecurities of men who often have no sexual dysfunction at all.
One of my clients was a 19-year-old man who met a girl he really liked and wanted to make sure he would be a good lover. He’d had some flings with girls before, but he was worried that he only lasted for about 10 minutes. When I explained that the “average” ejaculation time is between three and seven minutes, he could hardly believe it. He thought it should be at least 20 minutes because some of his “mates” told him they could last for half an hour or more! He left my office with a confident, big smile on his face.
But some men come very quickly, sometimes they only last two minutes or less and suffer what’s called premature ejaculation (PE) a condition that about 30 per cent of the male population suffer from, at some time in their lives. Often it’s not physical but psychological – inexperience and worry can cause performance anxiety. When a man anticipates problems about his performance, it can become a self-fulfilling fear and it’s not unusual to also start losing erections – coming quickly is bad enough – losing an erection is terrifying.
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Another client, let’s call him James, a gorgeous 24-year-old young man, had sex for the first time when he was 17 and was very excited, but he ended up losing his erection. At the time he blamed it on being drunk and it took him a while to try again. But after several attempts it didn’t get any better and he became convinced there was physically something wrong with him. He saw his GP who suggested he try Viagra, a well-known erectile dysfunction drug, which didn’t make him feel much better.
He had some more encounters with women who, overall, weren’t very understanding when he lost his erection. One wondered if he was gay and another told everyone at work what a dud he was, the morning after they hooked up at a work function. He stopped having sex for about four years. He was traumatised and put all his energies into study and work to avoid being disappointed again. But after meeting a girl at university who he really liked, he decided to do something about it and came to see me.
Loss of erection also sometimes happens to men who have never had a previous problem – it may happen when they start out on a new relationship. But even in a stable relationship, a single event can be a frightening experience and anticipating the possibility it may happen again. Problems usually start when these men, like James, began having sex as teenagers that may have been scary and disappointing. When I explain to clients that they don't have physical sexual dysfunction but have acquired sexual performance anxiety – a psychological condition that can be fixed – they are very relieved.
So what DO women want?
In my experience, very few women care much about the length of the sex session. Instead they want more focus on foreplay, connection, pleasure, intimacy and emotional closeness.
Sometimes intercourse can become painful when it takes too long. Many perfectly normal women don’t produce much vaginal lubrication, so it’s important to always use enough lubricant.
Women need more time to get aroused; they like their men to give good oral sex and know where to find and how to stimulate, the clitoris to give them an orgasm.
So if anything should last longer, it should be foreplay!
Matty Silver is a Sydney-based sex therapist and relationship counsellor.