Q. I climax faster than my wife. In order to balance the problem, I try to stop or pause our intercourse when I get close. But that affects her and she's unable to climax. What do we do?
A. Great news for couples who struggle with a fast ejaculatory response: your problem is not "abnormal." The male sexual response curve from arousal to climax is usually much faster than the female's.
Recognize ways your wife's arousal can be enhanced by identifying her early "pre"-foreplay factors. She needs time to shift gears from her busy life concerns. This can include focused conversation. Most women desperately want time with a husband who is totally tuned in to them and not the TV or newspaper or computer. She wants eye contact and some verbal response that tells her he actually heard what she said! The subject isn't as important as her feeling listened to.
Help with the household demands, show genuine interest in her personhood (not just her body), and express your love in the distinct ways she'll feel it most. Then when she's more receptive, some non-genital touch can make her more aroused. Spending some time in "pleasuring" or "sensate focusing" can help you identify the most effective triggers for her arousal. For instance, lying together with the sole agenda of mutual discovery can allow each of you to learn what body areas are most sensitive and what sort of stimulation is most pleasurable (such as firm caresses of thigh or light stroking of breasts or genitals, kissing of face and neck, or oral sucking of nipples). This allows you to bring each to higher levels of arousal as you understand your individual preferences and timing.
Another approach is to increase your response time through the squeeze technique. The technique is to stimulate his penis to the point of climaxing. Just before he knows he'll reach orgasm, his wife squeezes the penis at the base of the corona (the rim of the head of the penis). She holds the pressure firmly for several seconds until his sense of urgency fades. That process is repeated several times before penetration and ejaculation. With time this conditions his physiologic reflex to take longer.
The combination of increasing your wife's arousal and your response time can help close the gap and enhance your enjoyment. It's important to know, however, that simultaneous orgasm is not the rule for most couples.
Q. I have six kids and lost breast sensation after my fourth. Can breastfeeding cause this? It's frustrating to both my husband and me because I'm no longer sexually stimulated when he touches my breasts. I've talked to several people and they all say it will come back with time, but it's been nine years! What gives?
A. We've never heard of breastfeeding doing this.
We'd suggest you see if you can identify your other sensitive zones for arousal. As you probably know, the whole body, mind, and soul contribute to sexual pleasure. The "sensate focus" approach we mentioned above might help you and your husband find alternative ways to enhance your enjoyment of sexual intimacy.
You might also experiment with various ways of stimulating your nipples. Only you know what feels good and what doesn't, so see if you can find a touch or stimulation that begins to feel good. Then you can teach your husband how best to pleasure you.
Q. My husband has expressed a desire to experiment sexually. Are there any positions or types of sex (such as oral sex) that are unacceptable, assuming, of course, that we aren't talking about pornography or anything that violates our fidelity and commitment to each other?
A. Not only is trying new things normal, but we think it brings pleasure and delight to our Creator. God gave us such a wonderful variety of pleasurable possibilities for sexual oneness. We're convinced he approves.
As a general rule regarding what's "okay" to try, we have three guidelines:
1. Don't do anything you haven't agreed on. If either partner is fearful or reluctant and feels forced, the fun is gone.
2. Don't persist in some new and wild approach that's physically or emotionally painful. There may be some treatment that could eliminate the pain, so ask for professional advice. For instance, the position of the uterus changes with different sexual approaches and may cause discomfort.
3. Don't let your new adventuresome sexual play totally replace genital union. That's still the most vivid expression of becoming "one flesh."
We might also comment that while oral sex is okay and can be satisfying, it shouldn't be a demand. Also avoid anal intercourse, which can cause many negative physical consequences, such as infections being spread from the non-sterile rectum to the reproductive organs. The anal canal and rectum are also subject to tearing more than the penis, vagina, or oral structures.
We agree and affirm your stand against pornography or any extramarital exploits! We continue to see regularly couples who find that these create distance and dissatisfaction in their marital intimacy. Sex is just better in a committed monogamous relationship that is unassailed by pornographic images.
Have fun and imagine God's smile as you discover new delights.
Melissa and Louis McBurney, M.D., marriage therapists and co-founders of Marble Retreat in Marble, Colorado, are authors of Real Questions, Real Answers About Sex (Zondervan).
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