Between a lack of lubrication, uncomfortable angles, and not being in the right ~mood~, there are lots of opportunities for sex to go wrong. One of the most frustrating outcomes, though? When your partner doesn't last long enough.
“Premature ejaculation is usually due to an underlying physiological or psychological issue,” says Gigi Engle. “If you're having issues with ejaculating too quickly, this is definitely something to discuss with your doctor.” That said, Engle thinks we put way too much emphasis on staying hard for as long as possible.
In reality, premature ejaculation is nothing to be ashamed of, and we don’t need an erect penis in order to have an orgasm, anyway. “If you understand the clitoris, give great oral sex, and are open to using toys, you're perfectly capable of being an amazing lover whether the hard-on lasts two minutes or two hours in bed,” Engle explains.
To be fair, the average duration of penetrative sex is estimated to be in the range of three to six minutes, says Jessica O'Reilly. So, if your partner is in that range, they technically have a normal capacity for sex.
Still, if you (or both of you) aren’t walking away satisfied, that’s a problem. Luckily, it's one that can (easily!) be addressed: Here's exactly what you can do to help your partner last longer in bed, so you can both reach the finish line.
1. Suggest a pregame.
Before having sex, make masturbation part of your foreplay. "Tell them you want them to watch you touch yourself, they will love it," says Emily Morse, PhD, host of the podcast Sex With Emily. Plus, it will help you get a head start and close the orgasm gap so that you're both on the same page once you’re having sex.
2. Try a toy.
Cock rings go around the base of the penis, usually around the shaft, testicles, or both, O’Reilly says. They add pressure to the base of the penis, restricting blood flow. This can then delay their orgasm, helping them last longer.
3. Try the ‘squeeze technique.’
Have your partner pull out when things start to get intense for them, then squeeze the head of their penis, suggests sex therapist Debra Laino, PhD, with her doctorate in human sexuality. Not too hard, just firmly put pressure on the shaft of their penis with your thumb and forefinger. The squeezing can help delay ejaculation, so you two can keep at it longer.
4. Use a condom.
PSA: Condoms are great for prolonging penetration. They create an extra layer of separation, so the sensation isn't quite as intense. This can delay your partner's orgasm justtttt long enough to help you get yours.
Speaking of condoms...does the pull-out method work?
5. Switch positions.
Most people know when they’re about to orgasm, so have your partner switch positions when they feel like they’re getting close, O’Reilly says.
You might even be able to tell what’s up and take charge: You can usually feel your partner’s testicles tightening and lifting more significantly as they approach orgasm, she says. When a penis-haver has an orgasm, they have two sets of contractions, with each contraction an average of 0.8 seconds apart from the other, O’Reilly says. Moving at this pace, or faster, and with a predictable rhythm can cause an orgasm, so slowing down or changing up the rhythm can potentially delay the release.
You might have to experiment here to see what works best for you both. (Morse suggests trying moves like getting on top, which will help you control the pace.) Change things up a bit and talk about what your partner likes.
6. Take mini breaks.
No one says you need to go hard and fast the whole time, so put little stops and starts into the mix, Laino says. “While having sex, have your partner pull out and kiss a bit, essentially calming down the excitement,” she says. “This also breeds deeper intimacy.”
7. Have them do pelvic-floor exercises.
Fun fact: These aren’t just for vaginas! Penis-owners can do pelvic-floor work, too, and it can make a big difference in the bedroom. One Swedish study found that men who did a few months of pelvic-floor exercises were able to improve their ability to control premature ejaculation. (To be clear, each of the men in the study suffered from lifelong PE issues.)
Whether or not your partner deals with that, encourage them to do some daily exercises while sitting at their desk. (They basically just have to squeeze the muscles between their tailbone and genitals.) It could make a big difference, O’Reilly says, and it can't hurt!
8. Keep going.
Just because they finish doesn’t mean you have to, points out Rachel Needle, PsyD, a sex therapist and licensed psychologist at the Center for Marital and Sexual Health of South Florida. Laino agrees. “Sex doesn't have to stop at an orgasm,” she says. “If the afterplay keeps going, it is likely they will get another erection and last a little bit longer the second or third time.”
9. Approach your partner with compassion.
If you’re truly concerned with your partner’s ability to last longer in bed, be empathetic when you talk about it IRL. “There's a lot of stigma around this issue and it can bring up a lot of negative emotions,” Engle explains. “We honestly put so much pressure on guys to ‘last a long time’ and ‘perform’ that it's not super shocking that this would get to a lot of people and make them nervous.” Think about how your partner might react to you bringing up the issue and map out your approach in a way that they’d take to best. You know them better than anyone else!
10. Be solution-focused.
“Bringing up this issue with a partner can be sensitive,” says Jenni Skyler, PhD, sex therapist. So it pays to focus on tangible solutions.
Skyler recommends sticking to the following script. Approach your partner and ask: Can we chat about a sexual dynamic that I have been noticing? Then, follow with: I know this may be hard to hear, but I would like to work on some techniques around lasting longer during sex. From here, the two of you are free to be solution-focused, meaning you’re ready to figure out a plan of action.
11. Don’t talk about this in the bedroom.
And yes, while this issue is sex-related, it’s best to have any conversations surrounding intimacy outside of the bedroom, Engle explains. “Bringing up sexual issues when someone is naked and vulnerable in the moment can be very upsetting,” she says. Instead, have this one at the dinner table or while you guys are watching TV. Try to think of a non-stressful context that will make your partner feel the most comfortable and the least judged.
12. Give delay spray a shot.
“You can try a delay spray if you're having issues,” Engle explains. Never heard of delay spray? “It utilizes numbing agents to decrease a bit of sensitivity, helping maintain an erection for longer as a result,” says Engle. Most bottles are pretty affordable, and all you have to do is spray it on your partner’s genitals roughly 10 minutes before sex.
13. Ask what’s making them anxious.
Bottom line: Premature ejaculation oftentimes has to do with anxiety. “The anxiety could be related to life stressors,” explains Skyler. “The anxiety could also be a concern about being with the right partner, getting an STI, or creating an unexpected pregnancy. Most of the time, the anxiety is related to the perception of sex being a performance.”
If you and your partner identify their premature ejaculation issues as anxiety-related, you can rule out any medical or preferential reasoning for the issue. Then, this leaves you the space to address their anxiety head-on, ease their worries and, if things don’t get better, seek therapeutic or medication-related assistance.
14. Don’t approach sex with a failure mindset.
“Feeling nervous about sex can create a negative feedback loop,” Skyler says. “If you feel nervous, you go into the sexual encounter ready for disaster.” This, obviously, is not the recipe for a pleasurable sexual experience, and the nervousness your partner feels may even become a self-fulfilling prophecy, Skyler explains. (AKA, they think they're gonna come too fast, so they do.)
“To get out of the negative mental loop, it's important to abandon the idea that sex is a performance,” she says. “When we demand our genitals to perform a sex act, as if on stage, we may experience the subsequent stage fright.” The solution? Well, don’t make sex about performance. Label it as an activity that you two are taking part in together, not something that you need to be ‘good’ at. (Whatever that means!)
15. Calm TF down.
Pent up energy and anxiety around sex can, in short, stress you out. That’s why you want to make sure your partner’s body is as relaxed as possible, both physically and mentally. “You want to quiet the anxiety in your body,” Skyler says. “To do this, take some slow, deep breaths into the core of your belly. You can also do progressive muscle relaxation where you squeeze a body part and hold your breath, then release and relax. The goal with slow breathing is to achieve a state of relaxation as if you are melting into your mattress.”
And yes, doing these breathing exercises may mean pausing in the middle of foreplay or sex to take a few of those deep belly breaths, Skyler says. Try to reframe your interpretation of intercourse to include these moments of pause, breathing, and relaxation, if you can.