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WHAT TO DO WITH A MINUTE MAN: A Woman's Guide to Understanding Premature Ejaculation by Robert W. Birch, Ph.D.

It is most men's fantasy-wish that they would be able to penetrate a woman who bucks like a wild unbroken bronco, maintain perfect control during an hour of hard steady thrusting, and then time their ejaculation to coincide, contraction for contraction, with the orgasm of their partner. I suppose there are a few men who could actually do that, assuming the woman they were with could remain an active partner in this marathon without becoming sore! In reality, however, the majority of women will not orgasm with intercourse, regardless of how long the man lasts, and the majority of young healthy males will, with steady thrusting, ejaculated within three or, at best, four minutes. Many men believe that they should have perfect control during intercourse and that the ability to ejaculate at will is an inborn talent they should automatically possess. Many also assume that if they could just last long enough, their partners would orgasm as well. Most of these men are greatly disappointed!

     Let's start with four assumptions. First, it is more natural for men to ejaculate rapidly than it is for them to last for hours. The second assumption is that many men (and women) will not accept this. Third, if the average duration is three or four minutes of active thrusting, to ejaculate within this time frame is not a sexual dysfunction. The forth assumption is that many men (and women) will not accept this either!

     The term "premature ejaculation" implies that the male orgasm happened before it was time. Initially, premature ejaculation was defined as an ejaculation that usually would happen before the man's partner would reach orgasm, but we now know that it does not make sense to defined a male problem on the bases of the female's response, given the difficulty most women have climaxing with penile-vaginal intercourse. Therefore, I prefer the term "rapid ejaculation." Certainly, if the average is three to four minutes, a man who rapidly ejaculates on or within seconds after penetration falls below this mark.

     It is easier to agree, without relying on the woman's orgasmic response, or the number of male thrusts, or the number of seconds timed with a stopwatch, that there is a legitimate concern if the man, the woman, or both are feeling emotionally distressed by the male's timing. In a sense then, it is those two people involved in the intimate encounter who decide if there is a problem, not the highly trained sex therapist looking at the impersonal statistics in a textbook. A case in point: Last night in your hometown, a couple spent a romantic evening together, during which they talked with anticipation of the sexual encounter they had both planned. There was nothing hurried in their evening or in the showers each took in preparation for their erotic playtime. After showering they lit candles and put on soft music. Relaxing together they talked quietly about their tender feelings for each other, touching and kissing each other affectionately.

     In the course of the evening, this couple's kissing become more intense and their fondling progressed from sensual to sexual... from warm to hot.. Both partners became highly aroused with the manual stimulation, the woman in response to her partner's skillful caress of her clitoris. As her excitement escalated, the man moved down and orally brought her to an intense orgasm. He held his partner as she relaxed, basking in the warmth of her post-orgasmic afterglow. She was still lubricated and receptive to him as he eventually mounted, and ejaculated with his own intense climax after thirty seconds of rapid thrusting. Still in her afterglow, the woman held the man as together they quietly congratulated themselves and each other for a spectacular end to a spectacular evening. Who would dare say that this woman has a dysfunction because she did not orgasm during intercourse, or that this man has a dysfunction because he climaxed in less than a minute? Sexual dysfunction or sexual style? At times it is all very relative!

     But, we have already said that some people, on one or the other end of that thrusting penis, would like intercourse to last longer. There is concern, there are things a couple can do. Unfortunately, however, some professionals have talked of a "cure," but that term implies that there is an "illness." However, there is no illness here, only individual differences. Some men are fast, some are slow, and most fall somewhere on the continuum in-between. It is also unfortunate that some professionals claim to be able to cure premature ejaculation with some simple exercises and within six to eight weeks. Do not be fooled by such claims, for a follow-up study of men who were "cured" in sex therapy found that three years later, the majority of these subjects were ejaculating just as rapidly as they were before they entered therapy. Techniques for better ejaculatory control can indeed be learned, but it takes time and patience, it helps if both partners are involved, and it requires that some things learned never be forgotten without the risk of once more feeling out of control.

     It is probably obvious that women should never blame or shame a man for ejaculating rapidly. It does happen, however, that a woman might feel frustrated and say something like "If you love me, you'd wait." Rapid ejaculation has nothing to with love, and everything to do with a super-sensitive nervous system. Even more destructive to a male ego is a comment such as "The last two men could last half an hour, so what's wrong with you!" Ouch!

     I would like to assure the women in relationships with rapid ejaculators that these men are not doing this on purpose. They are not being selfish and they are not being hostile. In fact, there is still no solid re that tells us exactly why some men ejaculate more rapidly than some other men, just as there is no conclusive re findings to explain why some women will orgasm more easily than others. However, there are two clinical observations I would like to share. I have found that most rapid ejaculators are a bit more anxious (nervous) than average, and they tend to quickly become overly- excited. I have often said that when a man is nervous and highly aroused, he enters into an altered state of consciousness in which his body takes over and his biology propels him rapid toward his "point of ejaculatory inevitability." This point, often signaled to the woman by the man muttering an expletive usually stronger than "darn," is the point of no return. It is as if a trigger has been pulled and, in a second, the gun will fire. There is no stopping the ejaculation at that point.

     Women can help by reminding the man to relax and by reminding him how important it is for him to loosen up, both mentally and physically. It helps to slow the man down, but not to avoid touching him. The touch, however, should be designed to keep him minimally aroused, and not to send him rushing headlong in the direction of his ejaculatory threshold. There is a series of exercises, called the start-start exercises, that a couple can do together to help a man relax, calm his excitement and allow him to focus on his progression toward his point of ejaculatory inevitability. Rapid ejaculators often are unable to anticipate that point of no return and are typically not aware of it until they are already there... and by then it is too late. Unfortunately, it would take a lengthy description to adequately describe what needs to be practiced in the series of start-stop exercises, and the reader is advised to read a set of more detailed instructions elsewhere.

     There is certainly time and space, however, to offer a couple practical tips to women. First, reassure your minute man that you love all of his touching and kissing. His ego might well need a boast, as many rapid ejaculators see themselves as being a sexual failure in the eyes of their partners. Gently discourage a rush to intercourse, and encourage him to explore your body in many ways. If needed and desired, encourage him to orally stimulate you to orgasm. If you have already climaxed before intercourse begins, some of the pressure is taken of your partner. Tell him that you have had your turn, and now it is his and he need not wait.

     If you have not yet had your orgasm, have your partner lay on his back. Straddle him and, when he tells you he feels in good control, lower yourself down on him. Sit quietly, reminding him to remain perfectly relaxed and not to move a muscle. In this "female superior" position, you should do all the moving, and the movement should be with you staying in close contact with your partner's body. You should slide back and forth, rather than riding up and down. This position and the movement described minimizes the stimulation for the male, as it is quite different from the male superior position in which he would be prone to use long rapid thrusts. An added advantage for you in this position is that you can adjust the angle of her body so that you are sliding your clitoris onto your partner's pubic bone when pushing forward, and sliding it up the base of his penis when you are pushing back. Typically a woman can get more clitoral stimulation when on top, and I highly recommend this position if for no other reason than the fact that it allows the woman much more control and rewards her with much more pleasure.

     In good sex, there are no demands made and no judgments passed. Men tend to be intercourse-oriented, and women often need to be persistent and patient in teaching their partners that there is more to making love than just "doing it." I like the concept of "fail-safe" sexuality, which says that in a caring and intimate relationship, there is never a failure. The emotional bonding is great if there is intercourse, and great if there is not. It is wonderful if there are orgasms, and wonderful if there are none. It is fantastic if it lasts a an hour, and fantastic if it is just a quickie. Above all, our sexuality should always be fun!

Robert W. Birch, Ph.D.
Sexologist & Adult Sexuality Educator

There are those who have claimed that men can learn to have multiple orgasms, and are quick to point out that for a male, an orgasm is not the same as an ejaculation. This is not new and the concept has been useful for years in describing the sexual experience and response of men with spinal cord injuries. A man without sensation, say below his chest, could have a physical ejaculation without experiencing the usual emotional counterpart. That is, the mechanical muscular spasms that propel the ejaculate out the end of the penis could occur, but in the absence of physical sensations from the pelvic area, the man would have no awareness of this response and would not experience the psychological excitement of orgasm. Ejaculation is physical, orgasm is mental. A man with a spinal cord injury might psychologically, therefore, experience an erotic high that he identifies as his orgasm, but this mental event is totally independent of what is happening with his penis. Thus, men can have an ejaculation without an orgasm and an orgasm without an ejaculation. However, this is usually the consequence of serious central nervous system damage.

        Sexuality reer Dr. Beverly Whipple, who coauthored The G-Spot, published a case study of a man with "multiple ejaculatory orgasms." Along with colleagues Dyers and Komisaruk, she studied a 35 year old man who, while wired to a computer, experienced six full ejaculations/orgasms within a period of 36 minutes. The study, reported in 1998 in the Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, included the subject's comment that he typically could do better at home. These reers were careful to identify these multiple peak experiences as ejaculatory orgasms. Both the physical and psychological events occurred simultaneously. Although using the word "multiple," this is not the same usage as others who have claimed that men can learn to be multiply orgasmic. It should be noted also that this man reported that he was able to ejaculate with full feeling from the age of about 15, and it is unlikely that it is something he had learned.

        I will admit to a fair amount of skepticism in response to claims that the majority of men are able to learn to be multiply orgasmic. It was probably around 15 years ago that the California based sex therapy team of William Harman and Marilyn Fithian published a book titled Any Man Can: The Multiple Orgasmic Technique for Every Loving Man. That book had been out of print for years. Skeptic that I am, I tend to question any promised sure-fire technique for something most men would likely want to learn... but then see that the book subsequently fade from public interest and go out of print.  The original Joy of Sex was printed and reprinted for many years until finally replace recently by a revised edition. The same is true of the women's health book Our Bodies, Ourselves. It was around for years before being updated and re-released. Valuable useful information tends to survive.

        I need to be fair and acknowledge a principal I have often preached. That truism states: "Even those who consider themselves to be experts in the field of sexuality must assume that there might still be something new to discover." A corollary principal of mine states: "Even though something old has gone unnoticed, this does not mean it is untrue... particularly when it comes to sex." Witness the rediscovery of a sensitive area inside the vagina that was first identified in 1950 by Ernst Grafenberg. This sensitive area received little attention until Ladas, Whipple and Perry rediscovered it and, in 1982, published The G Spot (which has now been translated into 19 languages). It is also true that our discovery of something new or rediscovery of something old might be more likely if we step outside the "medical model," or move beyond our "Western thinking." With this in mind, I would like to introduce the reader to a couple of books.

        First, however, let me tell you of two other books that are certainly within our Western concept of the mind and body. In 1997, Susan Joiner's book An Everlasting Lover: How One Couple Learns the Secret of a Multi-Orgasmic Man appeared on the bookshelves and is still being sold by One year later we saw the publication of How to Make Love All Night (and Drive a Woman Wild): Male Multiple Orgasm and Secrets for Prolonged Lovemaking, by Barbara Kessling and Susanne Jaffee. This book also is still on the list.

        In 1997 there was another book written, this one however employing the lessons of Taoist sexuality. The Multi-Orgasmic Man is selling very well on, outdoing the other books on the topic. Douglas Abrams, coauthor of this book, and his wife Rachel Carlton Abrams, a family practice physician, have written a follow-up book titled The Multi-Orgasmic Couple. Dr. Abrams definitions of male orgasm and male ejaculation differ a bit from what I had stated above, and this is true for most writers on the topic of male multiple orgasms among neurologically intact males. When Dr. Abrams writes of men learning to become multiply orgasmic, her concept of the distinction is as follows: "Orgasm is the peak experience that we have during sex during which we feel intense pelvic and bodily contractions, increased heart rate and breathing among other things." It would appear that she is saying there is a strong psychological erotic awareness that is accompanied with physical muscular contractions. She then states, "Ejaculation is simply a body reflex - like when the doctor taps your knee - during which the semen is ejected from the body."  Dah... help me with this one Doc... isn't it the intense pelvic and bodily contractions that in fact propels the ejaculate out through the penis? A man with a spinal cord injury will have a "body reflex" with no sensation, but his body is contracting... he's just not feeling it.

        For both males and females, the physical contractions occur in the pelvis, and primarily in that band of muscles I identified above in my article on the Kegel Exercises. These pubococcygeus, or PC muscles for short, can be strengthened and the orgasmic intensity should increase proportionately. When I hear of an "oh hum" male ejaculation, the first thing that comes to my mind is the need to begin "Kegeling." But then I warned you... I am a skeptic and locked into a Western concept of the mind/body connection.

        The authors of The Multi-Orgasmic Couple state their book is "For couples interested in intimacy as much as sexuality and love-making..." They tell us that their "inspirational and sexy love guide... equips couples with everything they need to:"

  •     Cultivate desire and celebrate passion
  •     Harmonize two distinct sexual temperaments to more deeply satisfy and pleasure one another
  •     Experience multiple, longer, and more intense whole-body orgasms
  •     Channel sexual energy to improve health, stimulate creativity, and increase longevity
  •     Practice "soul-mating" to achieve a profound and tangible spiritual union.

        It is claimed that "Erotic and instructive, intimate and witty, this guide, complete with sensual and instructional line drawings by the artist who illustrated The Joy of Sex books, demystifies classic Taoist principles and practices for fully realizing sexual potential and creating deeper, more fulfilling relationships." The authors promise that "Couples will savor the experience of mastering the art of making love - and making love last."
        Dr. Beverly Whipple, coauthor of The G Spot states, "These authors bring together eastern and western knowledge in a way that focuses on the process and pleasures of lovemaking."
Robert W. Birch, Ph.D.
Sexologist & Adult Sexuality Educator

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