November 11th, 2010
12:31 PM ET

The new sex issue and why more men are faking it

When it comes to men and their members, we all know that what goes up must, eventually, come down. But what about when a guy’s erection goes up and stays up? At first blush, it sounds like bedroom benefit. But delayed ejaculation (DE) is a real problem. This umbrella term describes:

  • taking longer than usual to reach orgasm
  • only being able to get there via masturbation
  • not being able to peak at all

And it’s an issue that I'm seeing increasingly.

In the past DE was relatively rare compared with other "mechanical malfunctions" such as erectile disorder (ED) and premature ejaculation (PE), a subject I recently wrote about for this blog. Today, however, new factors are contributing to DE’s increased prevalence:

  • First and foremost is the fact that millions of men of all ages are now taking SSRI-based antidepressants such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil, which not only have the side effect of delaying orgasm, but, in many cases, eliminate it altogether.
  • The rapid proliferation of Internet porn also plays a role. Easy access to porn has made over-masturbation by men more common, which can lead to an increased latency period (the time it takes to reach orgasm) during real sex.
  • With so many varieties of porn at their fingertips, men who masturbate regularly to it often become habituated to a steady flow of sexual novelty and intense visual stimulation, making it harder for them to reach peak levels of sexual arousal with their real-world partners.  Call it Sexual Attention Deficit Disorder, a topic I’ve written about for "Good in Bed" and which addresses why too much masturbation to porn can mess with a guy’s sex skills.
  • When a guy masturbates, he's often applying significantly higher levels of pressure and friction than during real intercourse, so he may get used to a different kind of physical feeling. It’s called developing an “idiosyncratic masturbatory style.” There are now a lot of guys who can  get past the point of no return only via oral sex or manual stimulation (usually their own).

In addition to physical factors, psychological problems can contribute to DE. These can include not wanting to get a woman pregnant, bottled-up anger, and control issues. Lately, I've seen an increase in DE among men who are freaked out about the economy. They may get physiologically aroused, but they’re mentally disconnected and can’t focus enough to get to the point of orgasm.

But you might not be able to tell any of that from his bedroom performance. That’s right, ladies, guys fake it too! It's actually pretty easy when he's using a condom—“I just tense my body and moan a lot” says one former patient—and even if he’s going “ungloved,” he still might claim he had an orgasm and ejaculated (“It just wasn’t a lot”). Although there are no clear stats on the number of men faking it, as the factors that cause DE rise, the incidences of faking rise, too.

Here are tips for dealing with DE:

  • During sex, focus more on foreplay—especially the mental stuff. Sexual arousal is the product of both friction and fantasy, and the guy who suffers from DE often needs a spark of novelty to get him over the edge.  Everything helps: sharing a fantasy, creating more anticipation during the day, etc.
  • Try switching to a position that might provide more novelty and more friction.
  • If you think too much porn could be crimping your sex-style, it may be time to take a break from porn and focus on real sex. Taking a masturbation break may help address the porn-induced “idiosyncratic masturbatory style" I mentioned earlier. Or he can try masturbating with his non-dominant hand, which will generally provide less friction and pressure.
  • Communicate. In my experience as a sex counselor, talking about DE with a partner is not as hard as talking about erectile disorder or premature ejaculation, because guys with DE are able to get erect as well as last longer (two sources of male pride). If you’re with a guy who suffers from DE, get the conversation going by saying something like,  “Hey, so I feel like you’re a little disconnected during sex, or that you’re not enjoying being with me as much as you could. Is there anything I can do? Is there something on your mind?” When he asks you what you mean, you can say, “Well, I’ve noticed it takes you longer to reach orgasm or that you can only get there in certain ways.”

By understanding delayed ejaculation and being aware of the factors that might cause it, couples can get on the same page, strengthen their relationship and get back to enjoying an intimate sexual connection.

Ian Kerner is a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author. Read more from him at his website,GoodInBed.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.