When He’s Slow to Climax

Q&AAfter last week’s interruption of our Monday Q&A sessions here (with Confessions of a Sexy and Sexy-Happy Hubby featuring my favorite guy, “Mr. Spock”), I’m back to fielding your questions. Here’s today’s question:

I have a husband who desperately desires sex more (we are going through 29 days to great sex currently and it is fantastic!) The problem we seem to be encountering is that unlike me, he has a hard time climaxing sometimes. Mostly when he is tired, but I almost always am ready before he is. Sometimes its ok, and I can go twice, but sometimes it’s just been too long and my lady parts can’t take it anymore :-/ It’s not an issue of being aroused.. he describes it like he doesn’t have enough control to be able to make it happen. Any suggestions??

I guarantee that this is a problem for more than one wife out there. Sure, we hear how hubbies are eager beavers and can barely hold back their climax, but that isn’t always the way things play out in the marital bedroom. Sometimes, no matter how much he wants to get there, it’s a challenge.

Let’s start with understanding why this might happen to any husband, and then we’ll go into what to do about it. So what are some causes of a husband having a difficult time reaching climax?

Age. As men age, the nerve endings in their penis become less sensitive, so what used to make them fire off a round easily may not quite get them there anymore.

Drugs. Medications can interfere with ejaculation. Specifically, most anti-depressants, anti-hypertensives (high blood pressure meds), anti-psychotic drugs, and some diuretics. In addition, excessive alcohol, marijuana use, or opiates can have a dulling effect on the ability to climax.

Disease or Injury. Husbands with diabetes, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and injury to the pelvic region can experience difficulty in orgasming. For all of these, the nerves in the genital area have been negatively affected, so arousal to climax is more difficult.

Masturbation. While I fall on the side that masturbation isn’t by definition sinful (see Two Wives & Candid Conversation about Masturbation), it is often not advisable. If you masturbate often, you train yourself to react to that more efficient form of arousal, rather than the slower — and vastly more relationship-building — interaction with your honey. Husbands may then have difficulty achieving orgasm with intercourse rather than self-stimulation.

A quick note about Pornography: If your husband is viewing pornography as well, that adds yet another barrier to achieving orgasm through regular sexual contact. Porn is a shortcut to arousal, and those addicted to porn may become physiologically unable to take the long way home.

Performance Anxiety. If a man has difficulty achieving climax, the next time he may worry about achieving climax, which makes it hard to achieve climax, meaning he will now worry more about achieving climax, thus making it harder . . . Yeah, you get the point. Stress and anxiety hinder our ability to perform in all areas — from public speaking to getting the torpedo out of the chute.

Pregnancy Fear. If the wife wants to conceive, and the husband isn’t ready or willing to become a papa, he may subconsciously withhold his “seed.” If for some reason, a wife is in that spot, she needs to address it. You simply shouldn’t bring a child into this world without husband and wife both willing to parent. ‘Nuff said.

Relationship Issues. For both husband and wife, there is vulnerability and openness involved in sexually engaging and climaxing. The husband may not even be consciously aware that he’s doing it, but if he feels resentment or frustration with his wife, it can carry over into his ability to ejaculate inside her.

By the way, Fatigue didn’t show up on the lists of causes I looked through. But my personal, anecdotal evidence is that sometimes we spouses are just too pooped to pop. So yeah, I think being especially tired can be a contributing factor, especially as a man ages and it takes longer effort to reach climax.

Now on to how to address “retarded ejaculation” (its medical term). According to an article from the Boston University School of Medicine: “Ejaculatory dysfunction is always perceived as a couple’s issue. Resolving the problem is most successful when both partners can work together as a team toward a successful solution.” I’m certain that God would agree with that one. In marriage, you are “one flesh” and what happens to one of you in the bedroom happens to both of you.

Communication. High-five to the reader who posed this question! She and her husband have already talked about the problem, so it’s out there. They want to work on it together. Through their conversations, she has a better understanding of what’s going on with him (“he describes it like he doesn’t have enough control to be able to make it happen“). Please, wives, don’t read this article with the attitude of diagnosing him, informing him of what’s happening with his own body, and demanding that he get in line with your solution. That’s not communication; that’s lecture.

Open up the lines of communication by mentioning that you want him to have the best possible sexual experience. You can include about how hard it can be for your body to continue at some point, so the two of you should try to figure out how to get him to climax earlier. But don’t make him feel that he has failed (giving him performance anxiety). More likely, his body has failed him. Ask him to explain how it feels–what is different about before and now. Ask how he would like it to feel. Ask if he is experiencing stress or tension. Just ask questions. Then LISTEN.

Medical Examination. You need to know if the body itself is working like it should. If hubby is on medications, and suddenly he’s slow to climax, the easiest fix may be a different drug. Let’s go with the easiest fix, right? Ask your husband to visit a doctor. You can offer to go with him, or let him go alone if he’s more comfortable discussing the issue without you in the room. However, he should be willing to share the results of the doctor visit. Just start with finding out if the body is in sync.

Treatment. Secular sources I found often suggest having the man masturbate until right before orgasm, then penetrating his partner. Slowly, they suggest, a man can spend less time with masturbation and more time thrusting inside his partner, thus retraining his body toward ejaculation with intercourse.

Pah! I say. Sexual intimacy should be, well, intimate. It involves two people interacting with each other physically to provide arousal to and closeness with one another. Also, this is a we problem; remember the quote above? There’s got to be some approach to this issue that focuses on the two of you together and doesn’t involve self-stimulation as the ultimate answer.

So here are some other ideas:

Wait a sufficient amount of time in between. If you are having sex every day or every other day, that may be too often for a husband struggling with slow ejaculation. Space out your interactions to every few days. Of course, don’t go too long. Your body tends to adjust to what it receives, and you don’t want the “new normal” to be too little physical intimacy in your marriage.

Cease masturbation. If the husband has trained his body to become quickly aroused and climax through self-stimulation, it may be interfering with arousal and climax in sexual intercourse. The best way to retrain yourself is to stop the old, harmful habit and replace it with a new, beneficial habit.

Spend more time in foreplay. Instead of having the husband masturbate almost to climax, the husband can coach his wife toward stimulating him enough in other ways that he feels very close. Find out what he finds particularly arousing. Is it viewing you in full light? Turning you on to the point of orgasm? Receiving fellatio (oral sex) from you? Getting a “hand job”? (Use lube, lube, lube!) Get him close, and then get him in. Over time, have him enter earlier and earlier in that process to retrain himself toward climaxing inside you.

Use lots of lubricant. If a wife is okay with going longer for the husband to ejaculate, she can keep a bottle of lubricant handy. Reapply often and generously because, after ongoing friction, a woman tends to have less lubrication and feel discomfort with continued thrusting. There are many brands of lubricant (KY, Astroglide, and others), as well as the natural option of coconut oil.

Apply sufficient pressure. As I read about this problem, a recurring message was that plenty of men with retarded ejaculation could reach orgasm through masturbation, which provided more intense pressure and speedier thrusting than is often the case with sexual intercourse. It makes sense, therefore, to me that you might wish to try different positions to see if angle makes a difference in the pressure applied on his penis. You could also use your hand to apply more pressure at the base of his penis while your husband is inside your vagina (this may be easiest with the woman-on-top position). Also–while I have a love/hate relationship with them–it’s never a bad idea for a wife to do some Kegel exercises to keep the musculature of the vagina strong. You can even work to flex those muscles with him inside you, thus providing more pressure to his penis to assist ejaculation.

Don’t worry about his climax. Ask a guy when he’s done with sex, and he’ll probably say when he’s ejaculated. But it isn’t necessary for a man to come to have a great time in the bedroom with his wife. As men age in particular, they may find that there are those times when the length of time it would take to ejaculate isn’t “worth it,” so to speak. The husband can still enjoy the physical closeness with his wife and walk away happy even if he doesn’t ejaculate. You don’t have to reach the peak every single time to enjoy a beautiful hike up the mountain. Taking the pressure off may actually have the effect of making it easier for the hubby to achieve orgasm, since performance anxiety could be a factor — whether primary or secondary.

Since retarded ejaculation is not widely diagnosed, there isn’t a plethora of information about treating it. The general take from the experts is to check for medical reasons that can be treated and to focus on reconditioning the man’s sexual response.

I’m a believer that Christianity affects every single part of our lives. As such, I thought about 1 Corinthians 13 as I was writing this, and how it even applied to this situation. So if I were dealing with this issue with my husband, I would be wise to consider that:

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.

Be patient and kind as you approach your husband about his sexual performance. Let bygones be bygones and work toward protecting, trust, hoping, and persevering with each other. My continued blessings for this reader and all those who struggle with sexual problems in their marriage.

Sources: WebMD, Boston University School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, International Society for Sexual Medicine, GoFish Ministries blog, The Marriage Bed

15 thoughts on “When He’s Slow to Climax

  1. Anonymous

    Ahh, this is great advice. I just wanted the original poster to know she is not alone. My husband and I were virgins on our wedding day, and we struggled with this for about the first 2.5 years. Now at 4.5 years we have both learned to relax so there is no pressure to climax, and learned each other’s bodies So much better we know how to “do it” better than when we started.
    Kegels during sex is awesome, no only for him, but I have found it really turns me on also. It helps me be active during sex, especially in the missionary position.
    Also, we realized he was dealing with a lot of guilt over climaxing because he had been raised with that old “sex is bad” line. His parents forgot the other part of the line, “unless it is with your God given wife”

    As he has been able to let go of that guilt things have changed a lot.
    Hang in there!!!

    1. J

      Thanks for your own tips from experience. Yes, the guilt issue can be a factor too. RE (retarded ejaculation) occurs more often in those with a very strict religious background. That saddens me because we should be the folks advocating for GREAT SEX…in marriage.

  2. Anonymous

    Thanks so much for this post – my husband has had this issue from the beginning (in our 20s – we are in our early 40s now), and my/our lack of understanding led to so many problems in the bedroom. I could never find any information on it either – most of the writing on men’s problems has to do with PE (which I sometimes wish was our problem!). The one question I had re. sensitivity – does circumcision make a difference? Would someone who is circumcised have less sensitivity generally, and would have more of an effect as they age? Thanks again for a really helpful post!

    1. J

      Yes, circumcised males have less sensitivity, but not to the point that it should interfere with climax. And oh my, there is SO MUCH MORE about PE! I had to get a little deeper with research on this post, but I always enjoy learning more so it was my pleasure.

    2. Anonymous

      Thanks J – so then I/we can rule out anything physical and work on the emotional/relationship issues you mentioned. I nodded my head at a bunch of them – including, like the first Anonymous, negative messages from parents. I think that my MIL put the fear of God into my husband about getting a girl pregnant and that has persisted. The only time that DE wasn’t a concern was when we were trying to conceive! We have talked a little about one of us getting “fixed” – maybe we should have that conversation again. The only problem is that I would love to have a #3 and he doesn’t – yet another thing you mentioned in your post.

      Lots to think about and work on! Thanks yet again for such a bevy of practical advice (and some hope!) on this topic.

  3. Anonymous

    Very good post. I am a 55 year old male uncircumcised. Very happily married for 34 years and have suspicioned low testosterone for 10 years which recently was confirmed and treated by Body Logic MD near Philadelphia PA. They specialize in hormone imbalance and treatment for men and women and do know there stuff. This has taken me back to former levels of performance and enjoyment of sex which would make a long comment. Just this on the one delayed ejaculation. It has pretty much eliminated that. All of Js considerations were good. Try this the next time it is taking to long. Put your fingers down there between you two and hold your labia together as best you can to get him a bit more friction. That helps! Also switch to a position with more friction like entrance from behind if he enjoys this. Alway was enjoyed by me more than her, but it works every-time. Develop strong kegal muscles and squeeze him as needed. Be an exciting and loving partner which I am sure you are. Since my levels of T are up wow and I can feel the urge for sex daily again and enjoy it immensely if I can get her to along with me that often. Hormones are a huge player in all this stuff. Eliminate that one first! Not cheap but wow so worth it. Low T is implicated in most getting old health issues for men and very much affects sex performance and depression issues. Check him out if he’s willing. Healed Husband!

    1. J

      Thanks so much for the tip on Low T! I suspect that plenty of husbands have Low T and don’t know it. Your other thoughts about how to apply pressure are good, and it helps to hear the hubby’s side of things.

  4. Anonymous

    The person who asked this question is definitely not alone. We’ve been struggling with this for the past year.

    What makes it the hardest for me is thinking it’s my fault. I feel like I don’t turn him on enough to get him to that point. I’ve gained weight over the years with many close together pregnancies. I also struggle with the fact that he was with other women before we married and had a problem with porn when we first married and so of course that adds to the problem of thinking the problem is me.

    1. J

      The prior sexual history could compound the issue, but your weight is not at all likely to be a causal factor. I assume your husband still wants to have sex with you? If so, I doubt that’s it. MOST hubbies are still very intrigued and excited by the female body even with extra poundage. Of course, you should take care of yourself for health and to feel good about the body God gave you, but not to measure up to some unrealistic standard. Take a deep breath, get away from the bedroom, and talk about what’s going on with him. Work your way through some possible causes and then solutions. Also, if you have little ones in the house, exhaustion may be playing a role; it’s not easy to have a full sex life with young children disrupting your mojo. Best wishes! You are beautiful.

  5. larrysmusings

    Great essay J! Thanks for addressing this not all that uncommon challenge.

    One factor that may be did not receive enough attention in the essay is that of general overall health and fitness. If a middle aged man sits at a desk all day and does not exercise a few times each week, his overall health and energy, including his sexual health and vigor, is not going to be very good. (Decline in hormones as men age is also a big factor here.)

    Would like to touch on points 3, 5 and 6. Spend more time in foreplay and make use of variety. Switch from hand caresses to fellatio and back again; and wives, use your hand(s) during your fellatio so your husband receives stimulation to his entire penis. As men age, many do need more time. (This is from a middle aged man.)

    Apply sufficient pressure. This is relevant to both foreplay and intercourse. You are not (likely) going to hurt your husband by increasing the pressure at times with your hands and/or mouth. When you both desire the fellatio to continue through ejaculation, by varying the pressure (of your lips and tongue) during your fellatio, and then using greater pressure and speed when he is fully aroused, you can help him achieve this end. As well, you may find the “doggy” position for intercourse can help your husband to climax, especially when you keep your thighs very close to each other (or even closed) for a snug and very pleasing(!!) and very loving vaginal embrace of his penis. (Tell him how good this feels for you. The positive and supportive feedback will reassure him, and he won’t feel unnecessary pressure to climax.)

    Don’t worry about his climax. This applies to both wives and husbands! You do not try to force yourself to fall asleep as that is counterproductive. You relax, and then fall asleep naturally. The same idea helps here. Without worry or pressure to climax, the man can relax and enjoy the lovemaking. He is thus more likely to be able to reach his climax in time. (I do take longer than when younger; but my wife and I, both of us, are still thrilled with and very much enjoy my strong and healthy ejaculations.)

  6. Anonymous

    I also would say #6 is really important! I also know that general health and energy play a big role, to the point that over-indulging in a big dinner can certainly hinder things that evening, or even the next morning!

  7. Jenny

    We’ve dealt with this issue, due to side effects of a medication that he’s on. He recently started taking another medication that should start combating those side effects. What you said at the end there is so true. As a wife, in this situation I absolutely MUST be compassionate, encouraging, and gentle; I must build him up, take the focus off of ejaculation, make him feel confident and like a stud, reinforce how amazing he is in bed and how much he pleasures me, and NEVER show any sign of anything that could be construed as disappointment if he doesn’t climax! Men are very sensitive emotionally when it comes to problems of that sort. The world gives them messages about sex and manhood that can be very damaging to their self-esteem and self-confidence when problems arise. We, as wives, have to help protect them from those messages, to dispel the myths, and to reinforce the truth.

    A few things that we have done – first of all, we will occasionally try different types of stimulation. Sometimes I may give him a hand job or a blow job. We’ll take turns being on top. He does climax a lot faster when I’m on top, because I can move and stimulate his penis in ways that he can’t when he’s on top – just as I climax more readily when he’s on top! There are times when no matter what we try, he’s just not going to orgasm. (Although one time recently, when we were doing sexual activities, he was making a lot of noises 🙂 and said that it felt so amazing that it felt like he was orgasming, even though he didn’t actually orgasm.) When that happens, it’s no big deal! We still had fun, we still experienced intimacy, it still felt good, and we know we’re going to have sex again in the near future.

  8. Anonymous

    I know I’m late J, but I thought you might find it interesting that the hormone prolactin often plays a role in this. We tend to think of prolactin as mainly a female hormone because of it’s involvement in pregnancy and lactation, but it has functions in the male body as well. In healthy men it’s partially responsible for the calm and contented feeling achieved after intercourse(as well as exercise and large meals). However, it also suppresses the release of testosterone, meaning a continuous excess (hyperprolactinaemia) causes sexual dysfunction in both sexes. This is the way that many medications interfere with sexual function (in particular the infamous SSRI’s and antipsychotics[mostly the 1st generation’s, but some of the atyp’s as well{I’m looking at you risperidone!|my that’s a lot of parentheses|}]). This can also be the reason many men have trouble reaching orgasm in the morning, as that’s when prolactin levels are naturally higher. I wish I could have posted this when people would actually see it more, but please, anyone who is on one of these medications and experiencing these symptoms, bring it up with your doctor. Immediately. I waited long past the initial showing of symptoms and at it’s peak it left me largely unable to orgasm from intercourse or masturbation. Switching medications isn’t fun, nor is the withdrawal(the option I chose, with doctor’s consent of course), But it will not get better of it’s own accord while you are on the same drug.

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