I'm usually pretty glad I'm not a guy. I mean, sure, I dream about having a cock from time to time, as I imagine most women do. But really, I think having my tackle hanging out all the time would make me feel pretty vulnerable, and more importantly, who would want all the performance anxiety that comes with it? You know, getting it up, keeping it up, all that stuff. The popular depiction of sex in modern films is enough to make anyone, male or female, who isn't fucking like a jackhammer at least five times a week feel like a total loser.
That can't make it easy on men in general. Then there's the premature ejaculator.
I think Missy Elliott best sums up the general attitude when she sings about not wanting no one-minute man. No guy wants to shoot his load too early. Of course, we place far too much importance on this sort of thing. Men who have trouble lasting should first of all take a deep breath and relax about it.
This is something that affects millions.
That being said, what can they do about it? There's the Masters and Johnson method, which involves stimulating the penis almost to the point of no return, then squeezing to prevent climax. Then there's the plain old start- and-stop technique, which is pretty self-explanatory, no?
More recently, Viagra has been hailed as some sort of miracle cure. That's great, but how to tell who really needs it and who's just feeling a little inadequate?
What the experts say
"A man has to learn to identify his rising arousal , watch how it works and notice when the shifts happen from low to medium to high. We actually have eight stages. Once he knows how this pattern works, he can learn how to put on the brakes . If sexual energy stays in the pelvis, it has nowhere to go and it discharges. By breathing it up , we give it someplace to go. Visualize it moving up to your heart and you take it away from the sexual centres. I don't agree with the idea of [having a partner] squeeze the bottom of the penis. You can do damage. I've heard that pressing the prostate point can help, but I've never really found that to work. It takes more work than pressing his penis. It takes education. Women often place the burden of responsibility for these things on men. We have to take responsibility as well."
Lucy Becker , tantra teacher, Toronto
"If you're circumcised, you can lose sensitivity because you're rubbing up against your pants all day, so you may last longer. Premature ejaculation can also be about perception. Just the diagnosis causes more stress, which causes more problems. The emotion most associated with your reproductive system is fear, and the more you worry, the worse it gets. Look at the language we use, like the word 'performance.' [Premature ejaculation] is a yang deficiency. You can use North American ginseng . (The Korean kind can make high blood pressure or stress worse.) In Chinese medicine, when a man ejaculates he loses some of his essence or constitutional energy. Ginseng replaces that energy. Cinnamon tonifies your yang. Try masturbating beforehand . You can also eat kidney ."
Kaleb Montgomery , Chinese medicine practitioner, Toronto
"Often within relationships, problems that have more to do with interpersonal conflict, poor communication, even life circumstance get played out in our sex lives, and men's sexual response is usually an early casualty. Even among very progressive folks there's an expectation of male sexual initiation and the idea that the only real proof of sexual arousal and interest is a hard cock. Because most men's earliest sexual experiences are furtive and need to be done quickly, guys often learn from an early age that ejaculating quickly is the safest thing to do. It's hard to retrain the body to relax and enjoy the experience of slowly building sexual response. The good news is that it is something most men can learn to do, and even the homework is fun."
Cory Silverberg , sex educator, Toronto
"We treat premature ejaculation with a combination of an SSRIs [selective serotonin uptake inhibitors] and drugs like Viagra, Cialis or Levitra. [In the past] it was considered more a psychological than an organic problem and was referred to psychologists. Now it's been shown to have some organic basis, and the drugs treat this pathology. There are two new SSRIs [for this purpose], both in different classes from those used as antidepressants. Approval is pending for both in Canada. Anaesthetic creams can help if the patient is too sensitive. Usually the man must wear a condom, since the cream will also desensitize his partner."
Jerzy B. Gajewski , urologist, chair, Canadian Male Sexual Health Council, Halifax
"A good massage technique is to have him lie face down in a comfortable position. Without straddling him, start at his shoulders and work in an undulating spiral pattern down to his hips, backs of his thighs and buttocks. Massage the inside of his thighs, but do not touch the genital region. Roll him over, working down and stopping at the bottom of his rib cage, keeping one hand over his heart chakra. Work his thighs again, but starve the genital region, seeing how his body responds. Only then you might want to start stroking him. If he's getting a little too aroused, slow it down. He should maintain a relaxed breath. The massage should not be more than 10 minutes, since the goal is to relax him without him losing his arousal. You don't want him to fall asleep."
Laila McDaniels , sex therapist, Toronto