Anxiety About Orgasms

Friday, September 16, 2016

Question

Dear Patrick: I am new to university (male) and am not quite used to being surrounded by other young people my age. One thing I have seen a lot of is hookups, and it would be a lie to say that I'm not interested in these. My worry is that I have never been able to cum in front of a woman. I had a few sexual relationships in high school, with girlfriends, however,
whenever I would get close to ejaculating, my whole body would become cold and I would feel an insane amount of shame, even to the point of panic attacks, and sadly would never reach my climax. I found that it had created friction between myself and past girlfriends, so I would avoid sex altogether. I just don't understand why I can't reach that point during sex.
Biologically it doesn't make sense, and I'm not sure if it is something that can be fixed or if there is something wrong with me.

Answer

Dear Incomplete: Anxiety is a very uncomfortable feeling, and it plays hell with sexual response. At the same time, there are many reasons to be anxious about a sexual encounter with a new partner. There is anxiety about how well one will perform. In other words, will your partner be pleased with your body and lovemaking style? These universal concerns are layered on top of contradictory cultural messages that say sex is wrong, harmful, shameful, and dirty. If you have experienced a problem in the past, the fear that it will continue to be a problem is likely to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is especially true if you are in a situation where you feel that you can’t talk about your issues and receive a compassionate hearing and some help.

Do you have any memories of being frightened or punished for being sexually excited? Unfortunately, some parents still punish children for masturbation or for age-appropriate erotic curiosity. An earlier trauma like this would certainly set you up to feel, as an adult, that coming with a female partner might be harmful to her or might result in being punished again. If you remember anything like that, you might be suffering from some post-traumatic stress disorder that affects your emotions about letting go during sex. A very strict religious background where there was a lot of negative talk about God hating open sexual behavior, or descriptions of divine punishment for various sexual behaviors, is one of the most common predictors for sexual difficulties in men and women.

But does that mean you are stuck with this situation? No, it does not. Because (as you say), this runs contrary to your nature, which is to love your body, desire the woman you are with, and experience the complete cycle of sexual pleasure. The pleasure is its own reinforcement and reward. If you feel that you need a neutral person to talk about these issues with, find a sex-positive therapist or coach. This could be really good practice for eventually explaining your situation to a lover. I think you need some help being able to walk another person through what your history has been, so she can anticipate what’s going on and offer effective interventions.

Most people just don’t know what to do when they are with someone who is struggling a little (or a lot) to get off. Some of us may tend to lash out because we feel threatened by this. It’s as if the person who has an issue is criticizing our attractiveness or ability to please in bed. But usually the problem is not to be taken so personally. It often comes from the past, not the present, and helping to solve the issue is frequently not that difficult. It is also pretty wonderful to be able to offer someone who is floundering a safe place to relax, get back in touch with his or her body, and search for a different way to relate to their need for release.

In your case, I would suggest that you need to have the pressure to come taken away. I might put your hands above your head and tell you that you are not allowed to come, then stroke you until you were unbearably close to orgasm, and refuse to let you come until you were begging for it in no uncertain terms. Allowing someone else to control your orgasm is one of the steps you need to take here. Another one is to understand, on a very deep level, that women who have sex with men usually love cocks and ejaculation. They want you to be able to come, and they enjoy the power and glory of being part of the process of getting you to lose control. You are not hurting them or doing anything wrong, you are actually just being a healthy young man who is enjoying life’s most fantastic form of intimacy. Cum is not disgusting or toxic, it is a fluid that represents life itself. There are cultures that view it as a sacred substance. Not all women will want to paint their bodies with it, but many do enjoy the slippery feel and taste of cum.

This is another thing to discuss with a lover. If you sense, even subconsciously, that the woman you are with does not like male bodies or is afraid of your sexuality, it will reinforce your anxiety. Ironically, you have a better chance of getting past this problem if you are with someone you love and trust. I’m not saying you have to be married, but it would help if you were with someone who communicated clearly, was patient and caring, and had a good imagination in bed. But you probably feel that having a sexual issue makes it impossible to be in a committed relationship. It doesn’t. None of us are perfect. And you aren’t in high school any more. I’m hoping the girls you might date have grown up a bit and are no longer resorting to temper tantrums just because a sexual encounter doesn’t go quite the way they expected it to go.

I am also going to suggest that you try having sex with condoms. If your anxiety is specifically about getting cum on someone because it isn’t nice or clean or whatever, wearing a condom might liberate you to enjoy your orgasm. The condom keeps your ejaculate safely contained, and you don’t have to worry about any reproductive consequences or sexually-transmitted diseases. Get a box of them and start using them during masturbation, to get used to the way they feel on your cock. Be gentle with yourself about this, it can take a while for a guy to get used to rubbers. But it’s an important social skill in this day and age.

I hope some of these ideas are helpful. But if you find that you are still having problems, please feel free to write again.