We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. Today’s week’s topic: why men can't come sometimes — and how to talk about it.
Q: I’ve never seen this issue addressed before, so I’m a little embarrassed to be asking. My problem is that my boyfriend can’t come during sex. At first, I thought he was just trying to last longer to impress me, but we’ve been together six months and I think he’s orgasmed maybe three times? We have never talked about it either. He’ll just go limp at some point and will awkwardly pull out. I can’t help but feel like I must be doing something wrong. I’ve never been with a guy who couldn’t come. Sometimes I can tell that he’s trying to fake an orgasm, which makes me feel even worse. Why can’t my boyfriend come sometimes? And how do I bring it up gently?
A: Thank you for being brave and submitting your question! What you’re describing sounds like a delayed orgasm or impaired ejaculation. It’s an issue that doesn’t get a lot of press, but it’s far more widespread than most people think.
It probably won’t surprise you that my number one piece of advice is to talk to him about it. According to Mayo Clinic, delayed ejaculation manifests in a couple of different ways: Lifelong, acquired, generalized, and situational. Lifelong means someone who’s always dealt with it, acquired means someone who used to be able to come and now can’t, generalized means someone who always struggles to come, and situational means someone who can only come in specific situations — in a certain position, with a certain partner, etc.
The only way you’re going to better understand what’s going on is by hearing from him about his past experiences. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but you’re already feeling uncomfortable!
Before approaching him, it might help to have a sense of some of why men can’t cum sometimes, and why delayed orgasm typically occurs. I can’t know what’s going on with your boyfriend with any certainty, but here are some possibilities around why your boyfriend isn’t finishing, and some tips on starting the conversation.
1. He’s Not Getting Enough Stimulation
People of all genders experience pleasure in different intensities, and your partner might be on the lower end of the spectrum. If he’s not feeling a lot of sensation during sex, he may find it hard to reach orgasm.
Make an effort to engage more of your senses when you’re being intimate with each other. Add more stimulation to your sex life by talking dirty to each other, moaning loudly, watching yourselves in the mirror, lighting aromatherapy candles, and listening to sexy music or watching porn as you’re getting it on. Make it an immersive experience. For more physical sensations, try using a vibrating cock ring or vibrator. Also using lube will help everything glide easier and feel more intense.
One of the most effective ways to get men to orgasm faster is to incorporate a little anal play into your sex life. Although the anus is still taboo in our culture, it’s a huge source of pleasure, especially for people assigned male at birth (AMAB.) Often just pressing a finger against a man’s anus can help him ejaculate much quicker. You’ll have to discuss your comfort levels with each other, but knowing how effective anal stimulation can be might motivate you to give it a try!
2. He Needs More Foreplay
AMAB people need to warm up too. It’s possible that your guy needs more stimulation, kissing, or snuggling before the two of you move on to penetrative intercourse. If you don’t typically engage in a lot of foreplay before sex, try giving him a hand job or a blow job for 10-15 minutes, then start having sex after he says he’s ready.
3. He’s Feeling Pressure To Come
Orgasming is as mental as it is physical. Most men these days feel a tremendous amount of pressure to “perform” in the bedroom. He might be focusing so hard on being a good lover or why he’s not coming that he’s not paying enough attention to his own pleasure.
Say something like, “I don’t want to put you on the spot, but I’ve noticed that you don’t usually orgasm during sex. I don’t need you to orgasm, but I just want to make sure you’re having a good time.” He might feel embarrassed or defensive at first, but it will go a long way to know that you want him to enjoy himself. Or try getting sexy without orgasming — take a bath together, give each other massages. Learn what feels good for both of you.
4. He’s Afraid To Ask For What He Wants
Most people struggle with vocalizing what they need in bed, which means there are an awful lot of people out there having sex that isn’t really doing it for them. There are a lot of possibilities here — your boyfriend might be interested in exploring fantasies or power dynamics that he feels embarrassed bringing up, he might want you to stimulate him in a different way, or he might simply feel too uncomfortable to ask you to change positions.
Don’t ask him, “What do you want?” in the middle of sex; that question creates too much pressure in the moment.
Introduce the idea of him being more vocal about his wants by bringing up some of your own. Tell him, “I’ve been too shy to tell you this before, but I’d really like you to tie me up,” or “I think it would be really hot to get it on in the kitchen.” Then ask, “Is there anything you’d like to try?”
After having sex, tell him what you really liked about that particular time, and ask him for his feedback: “It was so sexy when you bit my lip a little bit. I loved that.”
5. He’s Not Super Sexual
If your boyfriend doesn’t seem to enjoy penetrative sex, he may not be super sexual. Maybe he’s pushing himself to have sex in moments where he’s not actually feeling a strong desire to.
Because this can be sensitive, try to be gentle when bringing this up. Ask your boyfriend questions like, “How do you feel about our sex life?”, “What feels like a good sexual frequency to you?”, and “Do you ever feel pressured to have sex when you’re not in the mood?” Try to see what kind of physical intimacy he does like.
6. He Might Have A Medical Issue
Delayed ejaculation can also be caused a whole host of medical factors, including medications, injuries, heart disease, prostate issues, urinary tract infections, hormonal problems, or neurological conditions.
Since there are so many potential causes, I would encourage him to have get a check-up with his doctor. If he’s embarrassed or uncomfortable about it, try using “I” statements and expressing how your sex life has been affecting you. Additionally, sharing that you go to your doctor to talk about contraceptives and sex may help him better understand that partnered sex means everyone does their part.
7. He Doesn’t Need To Orgasm
Everybody’s different when it comes to sex. It’s possible that he feels satisfied and fulfilled without an orgasm. Maybe he just likes getting you off. Try asking him, “How do you know when you feel finished with sex?” or “What turns you on?” to get a better sense of where he’s at mentally.
Men and AMAB people who experience delayed orgasm often feel like they’re the only people on earth who have this problem, so try to be as sensitive as you can in these conversations with him. Good luck!