Ask Debby Herbenick | Curvy penis and lack of ejaculation

Q I have trouble reaching orgasm. I can stay hard for a very long time, as much as an hour. That was with my last partner, who had an insatiable appetite...

Q I have trouble reaching orgasm. I can stay hard for a very long time, as much as an hour. That was with my last partner, who had an insatiable appetite for sex. She was the first woman I have ever been with that did not take it personally. Now I am about to embark on a new relationship with a woman I care for very much and am afraid of this becoming an issue. Just to fill you in, I was circumcised as a pre-teen and have always suspected this may have something to do with it. I can remember that I was much more sensitive before the circumcision. So now I seem to need much more stimulation. Also, I have always masturbated and suspect that may be part of the reason for this issue. Any ideas?
A What you’re describing is often called delayed ejaculation (D.E.). Research suggests this affects fewer than 5 percent of men in countries studied, which still translates into millions of men. Some men don’t mind it if the sex feels good and their partner doesn’t mind or is into it. Unfortunately, some people take a lot of things about sex personally. D.E. can sometimes be improved through sex therapy (find one through sstarnet.org), and vibration can also often quicken ejaculation.

On your own, you might try broadening your masturbation—use lube sometimes, go dry another time, loosen any possible death-grip masturbation habits, alternate between slow and fast, and so on. It will take confidence on your part to talk matter-of-factly with your new partner about how your body works. Ask for ideas about making sex mutually pleasurable. This may include intercourse for only brief periods and then finishing with you masturbating solo or with her, or vibrator play. Finally, consider digging up your old medical records: It may be that you had/have a genital skin condition, such as lichen sclerosus, that could be impacting your sensitivity. A visit to a health-care provider may help to rule out any possible medical conditions that rarely, but sometimes, contribute to D.E.

Q I’m a gay male with a six-inch, VERY curved (down and to the right) penis. Whenever I try to “top” a man, it’s almost impossible for me to get in and then stay in. Erection is not the issue. I have been to a urologist who said it was not Peyronie’s. Could it be that my penis is too curved for anal sex?
A If you cannot top a man due to the curvature of your penis—no matter what position you try—then, yes, your penis may indeed be too curved for anal intercourse (in rare cases, this happens with vaginal intercourse too, so it’s not specific to anal). Have you tried multiple positions? For example, if your penis points down and to the right, perhaps your partner could lie on his back or stomach on the bed, and then you could lift him up toward you in a slanted plank-like position. Or if he is very flexible, you could try having him kick his legs up over his head while you “mount” him from on top (sort of like him being in a shoulder-stand position). You might also seek out a second opinion from a urologist who has expertise with erectile issues and Peyronie’s (which involves penile curvature due to scar tissue) to see if outpatient treatments (such as injections) might work for you. Doctors can do amazing things for penile curvature these days, and I’ve had the good fortune of observing a urologist inject a man’s penis for just this purpose. But, it’s always a personal matter and such treatments won’t work for everyone, so consider a second opinion.

Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a research scientist at Indiana University and a sexual health educator at the Kinsey Institute. Send letters to her c/o Time Out Chicago, 247 South State Street, 17th floor, Chicago, IL 60604, or e-mail inandout@timeoutchicago.com.

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