By Shelley Imholte, LCSW, MSW, M.Ed., PhD-c
Premature Ejaculation Got You Down?
The ‘mature’ couple dances across the kitchen connecting with one another to the tune of ‘Viva Viagra’. The Cialis couple holds hands in separate bathtubs seemingly blissful as a voice drones cautionary warnings about the dangers of these drugs if your doctor hasn’t OK’d you as healthy enough to have sex. As pharmaceutical companies’ profits rise, perhaps even higher than the rate of men’s erections, a man’s ejaculatory experience and his partner’s experience of ejaculation are sorely neglected. Achieving erection is not the problem, sustaining it is. You might be surprised by the number of men who are prescribed Viagra or it’s offspring that still do not have a sexually satisfying life because of the timing of their ejaculation not the quality of their erection.
Let’s face it; PE is not a comfortable topic to bring up for discussion and it doesn’t matter who you are talking to.
In heterosexual relationships men and women are often silent about their sexual dissatisfaction when PE is present. The female partner may see her partner’s ejaculatory timing as a reflection of her sexual desirability or even worse PE gives her more reasons to criticize herself as a sexual being. The male partner may experience a loss of sexual confidence, increased sexual performance anxieties, significant fears of rejection, and strong feelings of hopelessness. In an effort to compensate for the perceived hopeless situation and alleviate feelings of inadequacy, a man usually turns his attention to the sexual pleasure of his partner. Initially partners welcome oral stimulation and tactile masturbation as forms of sexual pleasure however over time their desire to be fully penetrated for more than a few minutes returns. Unfortunately the longer PE goes unaddressed the more both members of the couple become complacent and quite frankly the possibility of celibacy in the couple relationship loom on the horizon. Obviously PE is a complex problem and couples experiencing PE run the risk of developing a vicious cycle of sexual avoidance and shame that can significantly impact their sexual relationship. While silence may be the most comfortable reaction to this sexual dilemma choosing silence only serves to perpetuate and contribute to the problem.
Addressing Premature Ejaculation
Alleviating the stress and anxiety of PE for both partners is complicated and honestly the services of a qualified professional to develop and sustain lasting changes in the sexual relationship may be required. The first BIG step is to risk talking about what is happening for you sexually with your partner. I have included some brief tips here in the ABCs below to assist with growing your awareness of your body which in turn can help you with regulating sexual arousal. These tips are most effective when you pay attention to how you are feeling and what physical sensations are present both when you are sexually aroused and sexually neutral. Whatever you choose to do or not to do, your sexuality is a part of your human experience and you deserve sexual fulfillment. If you find that creating a conversation about sexuality with your partner difficult, seek out assistance from a professional and most importantly DO NOT GIVE UP!!! For more information and research related to sexual satisfaction in couple relationships see my website at www.sexuallifeimprovement.com.
A = Assess Muscular Tension
Scan the body for muscular tension throughout the day for a minimum of seven days. By scanning I mean close your eyes and bring your attention to the top of your head then begin to scan just like a scanner would from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Do not attempt to change any felt sensation or judge the sensations just be curious and scan. Tracking these scans may also be helpful especially if you would like to test whether or not there are changes with bringing your attention to your level of tension. Scanning will not only increase your awareness of the amount of muscle tension in your body when you are sexually neutral but also when you are engaged in a sexual encounter to more fully comprehend how muscle tension impacts you sexually. For example, if your jaw is clenched for a good portion of the day or you find yourself gripping the steering wheel for no apparent reason it is highly likely that this sustained muscle tension rests in other areas of the body such as your pelvic floor and is probably present when you are engaged in sexual activity. Learning about the muscle tension in your body provides you with information that will grow greater body awareness to alter the sexual experience.
B = Breathing
Breathing patterns also provide us with valuable information about how we might respond when we are sexually aroused. Sexual arousal increases heart rate and respirations and it is not uncommon for us to hold our breath we when are sexually aroused. During sexual arousal we tend to breathe from the thoracic (chest) region rather than the abdomen. Abdominal breathing will allow the feelings of sexual arousal and pleasure to be more spread out in the body rather than feeling arousal and pleasure only in the genitals. One technique to begin isolating abdominal breathing is pillow breathing. Place a pillow on your lower tummy and as you breathe in and out watch the pillow rise and fall. Once you have mastered abdominal breathing use this technique when you masturbate. Use both hands to caress your thighs as you breathe in and out before you begin to touching your genitals. As your sexual arousal increases continue to stay aware of your breath. Take pauses from genital stroking and breathe in and out of your abdominal region. Once you have become comfortable with pauses incorporate your breath with genital stimulation. Include other parts of the body and allow for your masturbation to be a full body experience.
C = Calisthenics
Exercise is beneficial for countless reasons. Because fatigue is a frequent culprit of sexual complaints in both men and women exercise is necessary to begin addressing sexual concerns. Build your exercise regimen slowly. Start with five minutes a day for a week, do nothing but stretch then increase to 10 minutes a day for a week stretching, jumping rope, or doing something simple like jumping jacks. Continue to increase the time you exercise until you are exercising 20 minutes a day. If you find it difficult to find 20 minutes in your day then I encourage you to explore how your lifestyle may be contributing to your sexual life.