(an occasional series where I have a go at answering questions sent into other advice columns where, if they had more space, I think they could have given a better answer)
I enjoy sex with my girlfriend but can’t ejaculate during sex. We have had sex six times and no matter how much I try I still can’t. Does my masturbation habit cause this? (from here)
Firstly, I’m assuming that you are male bodied (ie that you are talking about male and not female ejaculation).
Secondly, despite everything you’ve seen, heard or been taught, male ejaculation (and, if it happens at the same time, orgasm) is not compulsory with sex. For years females have been told that orgasm is not an essential part of having enjoyable sex, but for some reason (which I’ll put down to hegemonic masculinities, if we assume that you are male bodied and further that you identify as a man) it seems that this doesn’t apply to men. New rule. You can enjoy sex without coming.
Thirdly, you say ‘during sex’, by this do you mean penetrative sex (penis in mouth, vagina or anus)? Sex is a lot more than someone putting their dick inside someone else until they come mkay? If you can ‘cum’ with your partner, whether it’s with their mouth, genitals, hands, their skin, or solo while they watch you, then this is ejaculating during sex. It counts, ok?
Fourthly as other people have said, it might be to do with stimulation. Pamela suggested that sometimes when people rely on one particular way of masturbating then they may find it difficult to ejaculate with other ways. Dan Savage has been talking about this for years. If you are a tight fisted w*****r you might want to change the way you masturbate. Try light strokes on the top of your penis with lube, or use your other hand, or turn your hand around. Change up and make it more interesting.
Also if you are having sex with condoms then you may find it easier to come if you practise wanking with condoms (known as a posh wank). Additionally lubricating your bell end a bit with saliva or a tiny drop of lube may help you to enjoy condom sex more (not too much as the condom might slip off).
Masturbation is the single best way to learn how we enjoy sex and to orgasm: it’s good for you. Don’t think that partnered sex and solo sex are mutually exclusive. As I said above perhaps your partner could lend you a hand here. Perhaps she can watch and learn how you like to get off.
Fifthly, relaxing helps and talking helps you to relax. Many problems to do with sexual functioning are to do with feeling stressed. With sex there can be a lot to worry about: your partner seeing you naked, safer sex risks, pregnancy risks, ‘am I doing it right?’, ‘do they really fancy me’ as well as worries about ‘performing’ and putting on a good show and coming.
As someone else said, few people get more relaxed about this by simply being told to ‘relax’. You might find, if you are new to partnered sex, that you get less stressed about this stuff the more you do it. It may also be that if you talk about this with your partner that you will feel less stressed about it. Try saying something like “even though I’m not ejaculating, this is still really really hot” or “I really like it when you use your hands [or something else]”.
Have you talked to your partner about this? She might be really really enjoying the sex and not be bothered about you coming at all. Or she might be worried that you aren’t enjoying it. If you talk about it and share your worries you are more likely to chill about the whole thing, enjoy what is really good (which may lead to you ejaculating more easily). This is where trust, intimacy and communication are important: you know, all the good stuff.
Sixthly do you drink alcohol or use drugs before having sex? Many people do (and many people really enjoy it). It can make us relaxed and in the mood and make us feel more confident and sexy. However it can also slow down our sexual responses and make it harder to stay aroused (brewer’s droop for penises or the lesser known brewer’s dryness for vaginas) but it can also make it harder to orgasm. So try doing it stone cold sober. Perhaps also make sure that you aren’t too tired or aren’t up too late shagging. You might prefer it in the morning for instance (when testosterone levels are higher).
Seventhly help is available if the above hasn’t worked. Your GP should be your first port of call, if you are on certain kinds of medication (such as anti-depressants). Or you can get referred for some psycho-sexual therapy, which is free and excellent (often available at your local GUM or sexual health clinic). There is usually a long waiting list for this but they are really worthwhile.
Hope this helps