WORRYING that they climax too soon is one of the most common problems men write to me about so for starters it may reassure you to know that the average man lasts for just five minutes of full sex.
I realise that if you barely get started before you climax, five minutes may sound wonderful, but at least it should reassure you that few men are lasting for hours, which is the impression given by lots of sex films and pornography.
If you’re lasting for five minutes or so, you definitely shouldn’t see yourself as having a serious problem with premature ejaculation, but you may still feel that being able to last longer would improve the quality of your love-making.
Those who barely last seconds will almost certainly benefit from some self-help sex therapy.
Starting with the basics, it’s obviously not going to help you to have rushed sex with a casual partner.
You need to be able to feel relaxed. You need a partner you feel close to and who also wants to improve the quality of your love-making.
There are many helpful approaches you can try with a loving partner, though a man who hasn't a regular partner can still do quite a lot alone to begin to learn control.
If, when you are making love, you find you climax before you want to, the first essential is that you and your partner feel able to talk about it.
Discuss it, even laugh about it, and then try making love again.
You can show your partner how to help you manage another erection.
The second time around you will almost certainly find that it takes you longer to climax.
Repeating this pattern of love-making often enough can make all the difference. It may take some time but, with frequent intercourse, you will eventually be able to delay your climax.
However, if what's really bothering you is that your partner isn't climaxing during intercourse, it is important to realise that many women find that intercourse is not what leads to orgasm for them.
More commonly, women reach climax through other stimulation, usually manual or oral.
If you can maintain intercourse for several minutes but this doesn't result in orgasm for your partner, you should probably be exploring these other ways.
They’re explained in my free leaflet on Women and Orgasm.
If you’re sure you really do need to be able to make love longer before climaxing, there is more you can do to help yourself.
Research has shown that men can develop better sexual control practising pelvic muscle exercises.
To do these, when you are passing water, try to stop and start the flow of urine, without using your stomach muscles.
Only try this once a day or you could give yourself problems but, once you have got the hang of it, practise the same movement when you’re not going to the loo and repeat that several times a day.
It will take a couple of months before you see the benefits, and you will need to continue these exercises regularly or the new strength in these muscles will be lost.
It also helps to learn to feel in tune with your body's sexual responses through what are called sensate focus exercises.
Set aside some time during which you will not be disturbed. Either in a warm bath, using soap or oil, or in a warm bed using lotion to make your hands glide smoothly, massage your body all over.
Starting with the non-sexual areas, explore every inch, top to toe, discovering what feels particularly and perhaps surprisingly good to you. Then move on to the sexual areas. Find out exactly what pleases you, how and where. Vary your touch.
When you want to, bring yourself to climax.
Pay close attention to the sensations.
Concentrate particularly on the feelings leading up to the point of no return before climax.
When you feel that moment approaching, stop stroking your very sensitive areas, but do not stop caressing yourself in less sensitive spots.
When you feel it is safe, start again. Vary fast and slow strokes, firm and gentle.
In time, you should be able to work up to lasting around 15 minutes.
It helps if you get into the habit of deep, regular breathing, and make sure you keep that up whenever you near the point of no return.
You should aim to repeat these exercises in self-touching at least three times a week for an hour.
You can share them with your partner, if you have one.
Once you have each learned your own reactions, you can take it in turns to caress and explore one another's bodies.
When you move on to making love with a partner, you can again apply the stop-start technique.
If you feel yourself approaching that point of no return, you should both stop moving until the urge to climax subsides.
Do let your partner know why you may want to stop moving for a few seconds every now and then.
Secrecy just adds to tensions. While you may stop movement in the pelvic area, don't forget all those other pleasurable caresses you have learnt during the sensate-focus exercises, and continue to stroke and pleasure other parts of the body.
Many women find the variety makes sex far more pleasurable.
If tensions in your relationship with your partner or in other areas of your life are getting in the way of your improving the quality of your love life, they can be relieved by talking about them, and if necessary getting the skilled help of a counsellor.
Phone your local branch of Relate on 0300 100 1234 or see www.relate.co.uk. They can refer you for a course of sex therapy to help you learn control.
In an emergency, if you’re having sex and realise you’re going to climax long before you want to and just stopping moving isn’t going to be enough to hold you back, pull out and take hold of your penis head around the ridge with your finger and thumb and squeeze hard. This forces your sexual response back a step.
If it’s not the moment to pull out, reach behind you and take hold of your testicles.
Pull down firmly so you block the tubes - that holds back your ejaculate. It might be a good idea to practise in private beforehand.
Self-help techniques are the long-term answer but to start with you might like to try condoms such as Durex Performa which have been designed to help men last longer.
They contain a small amount of anaesthetising cream to delay the man’s climax without affecting the woman’s sexual responsiveness.
Some men find that sprays available in some chemists and sex shops to densensitise the penis and delay ejaculation help them.
For example, Stud 100 (also known as Premjact) has been licensed by the Department of Health for the treatment of premature ejaculation. It is available through Pharmacy 2U, (www.Pharmacy2U.co.uk).
By the way, I know some guys have got the impression that Viagra and similar drugs are cure-alls for just about every male sexual problem.
In fact they are very unlikely to help men suffering from premature ejaculation – and might even make it worse.
Drugs like Viagra have been designed specifically to help men experiencing problems in getting or maintaining an erection.
They are not suitable for all men – and can be dangerous in some circumstances - which is why they are only available in this country on prescription.
So-called Viagra available on the Internet often isn’t the real thing, or may be the wrong strength for you.
It’s important not to try to self-medicate because research has shown that taking Viagra can damage men’s fertility by affecting their sperm.
I hope this has helped but do let me know if you have a particular problem and I’ll try to advise you.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll look forward to hearing from you.