Pick a sexually suggestive song, in almost any genre, sung by a male singer, or any song about a woman bragging about the sexual prowess of their cisgender male partner, and you will find statements like this:
Premature Ejaculation: It's a Thing You Don't Have to Feel Bad About
He can last all night.
I can go all night long.
Let’s have sex over and over again.
The idea being that to be a great lover, if you have a penis, the goal is to hold off on orgasming as long as possible. Many movies make men coming quickly as a sign of an unsatisfied partner and a weakness. The longer a man can maintain an erection and not ejaculate the better the sex will be… allegedly.
This leads to many cisgender men feeling inadequate, frustrated, and depressed. These men then go on to diagnose themselves, or with a physician, with premature ejaculation (PE). But is this really the case, and if it is, should they feel bad about it?
The short answer: HELL NO.
The Formal Diagnoses
About 20 to 30% of men have a formal diagnosis of premature ejaculation, which is largely diagnosed because of the individual’s feelings of loss of control over their orgasm and distress over said lack of control. Another study found that for many couples, their beliefs, based on gender myths and social-sexual scripts, around how long sex should ideally last differed pretty significantly compared to what their partner actually saw as an ideal length of time for intercourse.
Many men may think that they aren’t in control of their bodies in the way they “should be” and are thus a disappointment to their lovers. In reality, this is often far from the truth.
It's Not About How Long You Last
I see many men in my counseling sessions who ask how they can last longer in bed. They spend so much time focusing on not feeling pleasure for fear of ending sex too soon that they forget to focus on the moment and their connection with their partner.
Here are three tips I give to men who are concerned about PE impacting their love lives:
1. Sex is not a single dish, it’s a buffet.
One of the criteria for PE assessment is something called “intravaginal ejaculation time,” which means how long a penis can be inside a vagina before cumming. This makes sex seem like it only counts if its intercourse. Sex is not a single dish of PIV (penis in vagina), but instead is a buffet of delicious meals and appetizers. If orgasms come on quicker than one desires with intercourse focus on other forms of sexual exchange instead.
2. The male orgasm doesn’t end sex.
Since sex is many different delicacies, not a one-act play, then orgasm doesn’t have to mean sex ends. Many people can enjoy multiple orgasms in a single session and if one partner needs a break they can always focus on the other party in whatever way they desire.
3. Feeling connected and happy is the goal of sexual intimacy, not how long you can hold out.
Sex is a journey, not a destination. There are many times that we feel more satisfied without orgasming and other times when we want to focus on one partner's pleasure at a time. The elusive simultaneous release is magical, but so are many forms of sexual connection.
By switching our ideas about sex from being a destination to a journey we can come back into truly enjoying the moments we share and being creative in assuring that everyone feels satisfied.
Orgasms are fabulous, but pleasure goes far and beyond that singular release. The more we remember that the better sex we can all have.
Dr. Laura McGuire (they/them or she/her) is an internationally recognized consultant, survivor, researcher, seminarian, and author of the book Creating Cultures of Consent (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021).
Dr. McGuire is a certified full-spectrum doula, professional teacher, a certified sexual health educator, and a vinyasa yoga instructor. Their experience includes both public and private sectors, middle schools, high schools, and university settings.
They currently are earning their Masters of Divinity at Earlham Seminary where they are studying the intersections of Judaism, trauma-informed care, and restorative-justice in faith settings. Dr. McGuire lives in the United States, where they work as an adjunct professor at Widener University and consultant at The National Center for Equity and Agency.