Stamina is a hot topic when it comes to men and sex. If one were to believe everything written on the web, a man who can last a long time in bed is the gold standard of doing it. For some people, long sessions in the sack are exactly what they need to feel satisfied but not everyone defines stamina the same way and, what’s more, for many, it doesn’t hardly matter. Anyone who wants to actually improve their performance in bed should think more holistically because sex isn’t something that can be separated from the rest of life.
“Erections are often a barometer of a man’s overall health both physically and psychologically,” says Dr. David R. Paolone, associate professor in Department of Urology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “I think that’s something that we recognize more and more.” For those still aching to address unsatisfactory endurance, Dr. Paolone and Eric Marlowe Garrison Opens a New Window. , clinical therapist and author of Mastering Multiple Position Sex, offer some advice.
Sexual endurance is loosely defined as how long someone can last in bed but suboptimal stamina means different things depending on who is defining it. Generally, if a man isn’t lasting as long as he wants it means he’s experiencing early ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, or doesn’t feel physically able to have the kind of sex he wants. Figuring out which category applies is the first step to solving someone’s stamina issues.
Get a Physical
In all cases, if a man is concerned about his sexual endurance, he should get a physical to figure out the answer. Sexual shortcomings aren’t always as simple as being caused by fitness or age. Even a young athlete may experience difficulties while there are plenty of senior citizens doing just fine. Also, it’s a myth that endurance is all about fitness level. “Sexual intercourse is not as rigorous as men like to think that it is,” says Paolone. “From a cardiovascular standpoint, it’s really about the equivalent of going up two flights of stairs (the typical sexual encounter).” If a man truly does not feel physically well enough for sex, that can indicate a serious medical condition.
Change Masturbation Techniques
In some cases, a man’s masturbatory techniques may hinder his ability to enjoy partnered sex. The differences in tightness and lubrication may be just enough to keep him from experiencing the same levels of enjoyment as he does on his own. Being in a unique situation, like trying out a new position or sex in the shower, can also be too foreign. Garrison’s advice for this particular problem is to modify masturbatory techniques to fit the type of sex someone is going to have. “I always tell people, if you’re going to have sex on a chandelier, practice masturbating on the chandelier,” he says.
Consider Behavioral Therapy
A classic way to address early ejaculation is through behavioral therapy. This includes Masters and Johnson’s well-known squeeze technique, where a man brings himself nearly to the point of orgasm then squeezes right below the head of the penis to push the blood back down, avoiding ejaculation. For some men, merely pausing rather than squeezing is also effective. Once the sensation of near orgasmic inevitability passes, sexual activity can resume. Garrison often prescribes men use Fleshlights to practice this technique.
Regardless of the type of stamina problem, a man should make sure his partner (if there is one) is part of the solution. “A lot of times I wonder if these men have actually talked to their partner about their satisfaction,” says Paolone. Some men’s endurance concerns come from the worry that they aren’t living up to their partner’s expectations but the only way they are really going to know is if they ask their partner forthright. Many may be surprised that their endurance is not an issue at all.
Look at Depression and Stress
In instances of erectile dysfunction, mental state can be a big factor. If someone is depressed or overly stressed, it can suddenly and dramatically affect their sexual activities, regardless of all else being well. “You can have someone who’s physically fit but if they’re depressed, they have no stamina whatsoever,” says Garrison. Because this is a mental cause rather than a physical one, simply popping a Viagra won’t help. In the case of stress Opens a New Window. , depression, or any psychological reason for sexual difficulties, consulting a medical professional is an important first step.
Know That Dysfunction Happens
Even the fittest, most verile man is going to have an issue with his sexual functioning every now and then. “Men like to think that their penis should work perfectly every single time that they want it to,” says Paolone, “that’s just not reality for men over the age of eighteen.” Once it happens for the first time, especially to someone who isn’t expecting it, the anxiety and fear caused by this episode can create a vicious cycle of dysfunction and stress. Even knowing that no penis is perfect doesn’t always fix the issue for many men who’ve experienced problems, so Paolone sometimes prescribes Viagra (or a similar medication) to reestablish a man’s confidence.
For men whose stamina problems stem from erectile dysfunction or early ejaculation, there are many different medical options. These include the use of medications and more serious measures such as injection therapy and penile implants. For cases of early ejaculation, behavioral therapy can often solve the problem but Paolone finds that a lot of his patients would rather go for the quick fix through off-label SSRI use or numbing agents. Medical intervention has become a popular way to deal with endurance issues, particularly erectile dysfunction pills, but Garrison cautions that men shouldn’t expect great sex in a bottle. “It’s not that magical,” he says. “They [men taking ED medications] will have an erection but a lot of men don’t know what to do with it. The desire still may not be there.”
Other Ways to Think About Sex
For many men, their dissatisfaction with their endurance can be addressed by a change of perspective. Just because a man ejaculates early or loses his erection, doesn’t mean he can’t still have sex. Humans’ whole bodies can be used in sexual ways and sexual activity comes in many forms. Just because one way isn’t working, doesn’t mean another can’t. “Don’t just stop,” says Garrison. “Keep going and you will find how exciting your body can be to somebody else.” This type of advice, he says, often leads people to better sex than they ever imagined having and, as an added bonus, often ends up improving dysfunction.