In this week’s Sex IDK column, Emma McGowan, certified sex educator and writer, answers your questions about premature ejaculation and how to make sex last longer.
Q: My partner orgasms really quickly. What can I do to make sex last longer?
Let’s get one thing straight: There’s nothing wrong with orgasming quickly, slowly, or somewhere in between. However, if the time your partner takes to orgasm is negatively impacting your sexual satisfaction, there are steps you can both take to help! Let’s take a look at stuff you can do, stuff they can do, and stuff you can do together.
While some people with vaginas have trouble with orgasming quicker than they’d like to, it’s much more common for people with penises. While there are no solid studies on the subject, medical professionals estimate that about one in three people with penises experiences “premature ejaculation” (PE) at some point in their lives, according to the Mayo Clinic.
When it comes to premature ejaculation with a penis, there are things your partner can do: medicate, masturbate, apply a numbing agent, and therapy. While there aren’t any medications yet that specifically treat PE, one side effect of some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs, aka antidepressants) is delaying orgasm. For some people, that’s a bug, not a feature, but people experiencing PE sometimes choose to take these medications for that reason.
Another option — and a decidedly less intense one — is that your partner can masturbate before you two have partnered sex. Obviously, this method depends on knowing when you’ll have sex, as well as your partner’s refractory period (which is the time after orgasm during which someone can’t get an erection again), so it does take a little planning. But if those are factors you can work out, masturbating before partnered sex can help with lasting longer during.
Some people also choose to apply numbing agents to their penises. You can get them in the sexual health section (like where you buy condoms) of the pharmacy. Decreasing sensation in the penis can help a person who gets overstimulated delay orgasm. The only downside is that some people report that the loss of sensation is too much and it’s more difficult to maintain an erection. It’s definitely a balancing act.
Finally, some people who experience PE can work past it with therapy. One study that included 58 people experiencing PE found that attending therapy for two to three times per week, for a total of six times, noticeably helped almost 80% of the participants. A therapist can help your partner uncover any underlying psychological issues that may be contributing to them orgasming quickly.
There are also things you two can do as a couple when you’re having partnered sex. One is turning most of the focus onto you and your orgasm before you do whatever sex act leads to your partner ejaculating. Then, once you’ve finished, you can have penis-in-vagina or anal or oral sex — or whatever it is that really gets your partner going.
Another thing you can do is stop and start while you’re having intercourse. It’s exactly what it sounds like — your partner enters your body, moves around, and then stops when they start to feel really excited. That gives them time to calm down a little bit before continuing. You can use that stopped time as a teaser for more action, even touching yourself and/or talking to dirty to keep yourself in the right headspace.
Finally, your partner can give their penis a squeeze when they think they’re close to orgasm. (Or you could even do it for them!) When they’re about to finish, they can grab the penis between the glans and the shaft and squeeze for 30 seconds. It’s definitely an interruption to the action, but it can be done a few times during sex, delaying orgasm.
If your partner’s quickness to orgasm is bumming you out, no need to despair anymore! There are plenty of possible solutions. All you have to do is work through it together.
Chen, Guo-heng, et. al. (2009) A clinical study on psycho-behavior therapy for premature ejaculation. Zhonghua Nan Ke Xue, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20112744/