Expert Advice Q&A: Male Orgasm Trouble

QUESTION: My boyfriend has trouble climaxing, and most of the time when we make love, he doesn't have an orgasm. He says that he's enjoying the lovemaking, but I feel unfulfilled when I know that I have not satisfied him. What should I do?

ANSWER: It is interesting when a woman asks this question about her partner. Conventional wisdom tells us that men can orgasm quickly, easily and consistently, and the majority of them can. However, a man experiencing difficulty reaching orgasm does occur; it is estimated that 5 percent of men suffer from retarded ejaculation on a regular basis.

We surveyed more than 4000 people for our new book, He's Just Not Up for It Anymore: Why Men Stop Having Sex, And What You Can Do About It. 27 percent of the female participants told us that they believed retarded ejaculation was one of the reasons their partners stopped being sexual, and 15 percent of the men said that it definitely was. We're now researching why women stop having sex. In our new survey (there is a link to it at the end of this article) 15 percent of both men and women said that his inability to attain orgasm was a reason she shut down sexually.

Fortunately, your boyfriend isn't shutting down sexually because of this situation, and you have to be careful that you don't, either. He says that he is satisfied with things the way they are, but you don't think he really means it. We understand how you feel. As a woman, you have probably heard from at least one female friend: "I almost never orgasm, but I like to cuddle and be close to my boyfriend, anyway," and thought to yourself: "Oh yes, sure you do . . . " But, men and women are very different in this. Women take, on average, 20 minutes to attain orgasm, (something a lot of men don't realize). But, even if they do, and even if they are spectacular lovers, female orgasm can be elusive. So, it is possible that a woman rarely experiences orgasm, but still enjoys the closeness and intimacy of making love. Men, on the other hand, need an average of about four minutes of stimulation, although some require more as they get older. Younger men may require even less. A woman doesn't have to be particularly skillful to bring a guy to orgasm. In most cases, she just has to show up.

Therefore, the first thing you should do is not take it personally. It is doubtful that your boyfriend's inability to have an orgasm has anything whatsoever to do with your ability as a lover, or how he feels about you and your relationship. In fact, he seems to suggest you are a very good lover -- so good that he enjoys making love with you in spite of his situation. Now, let's consider some of the reasons this may be happening. Numerous medications can cause retarded ejaculation. These include some (but by no means all) drugs that treat cardiovascular problems, anxiety and depression. If your boyfriend is taking this type of prescription medication, he should talk to his doctor. If may be possible for him to switch medications or reduce his dosage. Substance abuse, especially cocaine and marijuana, can also result in retarded ejaculation. One survey respondent told us that even though he's in recovery as a heroin addict, he still has trouble maintaining an erection or having an orgasm. Male retarded ejaculation is rarely a psychological issue, however it has been theorized that some men are so anxious to please their partners that they are unable to relax enough to please themselves. (Many non-orgasmic women may identify with that.) And some who have difficulty climaxing need the kind of physical stimulation that intercourse alone cannot provide. As a result, they may go overboard in thrusting and pounding their partners during intercourse in the effort to get the friction they need. This may work, but it also may give their partners a lot more pain than pleasure. Orgasm can usually be more easily achieved for these men by manual stimulation.
You indicated that sometimes your boyfriend is able to have an orgasm. You might want to ask him what, if anything, is different for him at those times. You might begin by telling him that although you are getting great pleasure from the intimate part of your lives and you know that he is too, you want to try and make it even better for him if you possibly can . . . because if it's better for him, it will be better for you, and, ultimately, better for your relationship. You might ask him if there is anything else he needs in order to climax, for example, extra stimulation or a certain way of being touched. Perhaps, he prefers not to have intercourse, at least some of the time. But if none of this proves successful, we strongly suggest you take him at his word, and believe that he is satisfied. He may, really and truly, be just fine with the way things are.
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