The Nature of Delayed Ejaculation

Masturbation and Sex:
Reaching Orgasm Is Not Always Easy

As you may know, many men with delayed ejaculation – i.e. men who have no orgasm or ejaculation during sex – are often able to ejaculate normally when they are masturbating alone.

Surely this means, you may think, that the cause of “ejaculatory incompetence” (as DE was once known!) must lie in relationship issues….. conflict, hostility, that kind of thing?

However, why blame the relationship or the people in it?

delayed ejaculation and anxiety
Anxiety is a common factor among men who have delayed ejaculation.

Fact is, if a man can’t ejaculate during oral sex with a partner, or intercourse with a partner, or even masturbation by a partner, but he can come when he masturbates by himself, surely the obvious likelihood is that none of these activities provide a high enough level of physical stimulation to get him sufficiently aroused to ejaculate?

Traumatic Masturbation

Aha! So, a man may have learned to apply hard pressure to his own penis while masturbating on his own. And, that’s not what sex with a vagina is like…. that’s much softer….

That’s right. The penis can be conditioned to respond only to wayyyy-too-high levels of stimulation – think here of an adolescent boy furtively wanking by thrusting his erect cock on or into his bed.

So it’s always wise to check out whether or not the cause of the difficulty simply lies in the fact that the man uses harsh, firm, or high-frequency pressure during masturbation.

If he doesn’t get this level of pressure during sexual activity with a partner, then you’ve pretty much discovered the cause of the problem.

And the cure will lie in retraining his body, his penis and maybe above all, his mind, to respond to much more gentle stimulation of the kind that can bring about an orgasm during sexual activity.

Surely Slow Ejaculation
Is More Complicated Than That?

Needless to say, therapists and counselors tend to take the view that the relationship is often the cause of the problem.

But is therapy the appropriate solution for delayed ejaculation?

Maybe: I’ve seen many couples where a gradually increasing level of hostility has reduced intimacy to the point where the couple no longer enjoy sex, and the man even resents it.

And if you resent sex, why bother ejaculating? Why would you give your partner the obvious sign of your sexual pleasure, you “coming”? (Should I say “cumming”?)

So even though a couple has sex, they don’t talk – and because they don’t talk, there is no chance of them communicating in a way that might open a route to the resolution of the man’s delayed ejaculation. Or, for that matter, his hostility, anger, or whatnot.

But even if the man doesn’t feel hostility, anger or any other negative emotion towards his partner, he might just be the kind of guy who is a bit slow off the mark by nature.

Because one particular type of personality is prone to delayed ejaculation. This personality type appears to be of a man who

  • is somehow detached from his own “process of sexual arousal”,
  • is frequently unaware of how aroused he is during sexual activity
  • regards sexual activity as a duty for which he is responsible
  • regards himself as responsible for his partner’s pleasure
  • believes that the woman’s pleasure must come first and is the priority during sex
  • often, whether consciously or not, regards himself as the “workhorse of sex”, laboring away (often against all the odds) to bring sex to a successful conclusion for him and his partner.

I also see many partners of men in this situation being a bit passive around sexual issues, almost like they think the man is somehow responsible for their sexual pleasure (as opposed to the obvious fact that they are responsible for their own orgasm).

Here, I like to “engage” a couple in a process of re-education and tell them a few truths about sex, so that their expectations and beliefs around sex and sexual pleasure can be brought more into line with reality.

And you know what? Men who have this personality profile tend to have a lack of awareness of their own level of sexual arousal.

In fact, I’d go further – often they don’t know much about sex, or they haven’t had much experience …

Often there seems to be some kind of gap, or even a “void” (think emptiness), in their sexual experience, so (technical talk coming up) they have come to associate their internal process of sexual arousal with the external process of engaging in intercourse with a partner.

Simple talk: what I mean by this is that their own erotic world somehow doesn’t function as a source of sexual arousal and pleasure: they are left in a sort of sexual “limbo” where they are trying to have sex without all the emotional and physical experience and “tools” that are necessary for it to be an enjoyable and intimate experience. I hope that makes sense.

How often do husbands have trouble ejaculating during sex?

It’s not at all clear how many men experienced slow ejaculation, because very few men with this condition seek help or are willing to speak about it. (Well, would you be willing to seek help? I mean, are you?)

This is in stark contrast to premature ejaculation, where, although men may not be willing to get help, they tend to be much more ready to discuss it with partners, doctors, researchers and friends. The social stigma of being quick off the mark is much lower than that of being slow to “pop your cork”, it seems….

The most reliable research available suggests that the frequency of delayed ejaculation in the population is about 10%.

This comes from a survey of men visiting their family doctors in London. The reason that some estimates are much lower than this is probably the high level of embarrassment, shame, and inadequacy of men with delayed ejaculation tend to experience. But it’s completely natural – and common. And if you look around the internet you will soon see many questions from women whose boyfriends can’t ejaculate during sex, and from woman after woman whose husband has trouble ejaculating during intercourse… on and on it goes….


You can see how a woman’s partner might have difficulty with ejaculating with when he is inhibited, can’t get aroused, doesn’t feel turned on, or because he’s concerned about some aspect of sex. This might include other people hearing the noises of lovemaking, or fear about the consequences of sex, or anxiety about his ability to pleasure a woman, or his sense of failure in bed, or his lack of confidence, or…. well, you name it.

(A lot of people believe that premature ejaculation is a similar response to stressful events during sex. It’s certainly a response to a high level of anxiety around sex, which has the effect of catapulting a man’s arousal sky high, far too quickly. Spurting far too soon as a result.)

Delayed ejaculation, or even a man simply having some trouble ejaculating with wife during sex, speaks to me of an emotional distance between the man and partner, of separation, withdrawal, of isolation — and all that suggests a relationship where two people are not intimate or communicating well. 

By that, I mean they are NOT communicating about what they are truly thinking and feeling. That’s not the same as what they are actually saying to each other.

Generally speaking, you’re going to find that the man isn’t particularly aroused if he’s experiencing slow ejaculation (with the possible exception of the physical causes mentioned above).

So all kinds of fun ideas have been suggested to overcome this: the use of vibrators to increase sexual stimulation, nipple stimulation, anal stimulation, prostate massage, and so on.

All of these things are aimed at increasing a man’s level of sexual stimulation and so his level of arousal.

And because porn is very arousing, it’s also been suggested that viewing porn might be helpful; but, while viewing erotic films together may increase arousal, the danger of using porn is described on another page of this website.

So what’s the cure? Well, as far as I’m concerned, it’s about re-establishing intimacy between a couple on both the physical and the emotional level.

Emotional intimacy comes from open, honest, clear communication from an authentic place. Physical intimacy comes from a whole series of exercises which are described in the treatment program on this website.

Simple, powerful, effective solutions for men who have difficulty coming during intercourse