Premature ejaculation is one of the most common issues that comes up in our clinic. The lack of available reliable information tends to exacerbate the problem, as does the concern of religious men with 'extracting semen in vain' (הוצאת זרע לבטלה) which can create additional sexual pitfalls. I believe that a couple who wants to enjoy a passionate love life should be well informed on this issue both from a scientific and halakhic perspective; this article intends to address both.
This article is neither academic nor medical, and will therefore not focus on physiology or use medical terminology. Instead, we will present an index for various terms and physical responses, and offer some suggestions for prolonging erectile function and delaying ejaculation, while emphasizing the relationship, love, and mutual respect, promoting the understanding that the length of the erection is a means and not the goal.
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Terminology, Facts and Fables
The Purpose of semen
Firstly, men should keep in mind that the primary purpose of semen is for fertilization. Fertilization occurs when ejaculation occurs inside the vagina. This is the foundation for the continued existence of the world. For the purpose of fertilization – there is no significance to the length of time that goes by before ejaculation, only that ejaculation takes place inside the vagina.
Pre-ejaculation fluid cleans the urethra of any urine or bacteria before ejaculation, and balances the pH to enable ejaculation of healthy sperm. This occurs when a man is highly aroused, and his body is preparing for ejaculation. This emission is not included in the prohibition to 'waste seed' since it is not an emission of semen (although semen can sometimes be found in the fluid).
Rapid Ejaculation and Premature Ejaculation
Men should be aware and well informed about the type of ejaculation they experience each time. In order to prevent confusion between rapid ejaculation and premature ejaculation, I suggest the following division:
Rapid Ejaculation – occurs when a man is unable to delay ejaculation even without direct physical stimulation of the penis; in other words, when a man ejaculates even before entering the vagina, or immediately upon penetration, without an ability to delay. Note that this does not refer to the pre-ejaculation fluid, but to full ejaculation, which results in flaccidity, and an inability to have sexual relations with penetration. This situation also prevents the ability to become pregnant. There are various reasons for this situation, with different treatments for each case.
The process of overcoming rapid ejaculation begins with a visit to the family doctor or a clinic for sexual health. In Israel, a couple can also turn to Merkaz Rotem for guidance.
It is important to note that treatment should only be sought when there is a recurrence of the problem over a period of time. In the early months after marriage, rapid ejaculation may be the body's way of expressing its excitement.
Premature Ejaculation – This is a subjective definition. Premature ejaculation is not a medical situation that demands intervention; this is defined as a lack of satisfaction with a man's control over ejaculation. Some examples may include:
A man who ejaculates within a few seconds of penetration, and would have preferred for his erection to last longer.
A man who ejaculates four minutes after penetration, but would have preferred to delay ejaculation until after his wife experienced a vaginal orgasm.
A wife pleasures her husband with a penile massage, and he ejaculates involuntarily.
In all of these examples, the man has a certain amount of control, and enjoys sexual arousal – but ejaculated earlier than he had wanted to.
Premature ejaculation can cause direct or indirect frustration, due to his own expectations, or those of his wife. Sometimes both prefer for the contact not to end so fast.
Why does this happen, and how can it be prevented? In order to answer these questions, we need to first address male sexual arousal.
Generally speaking, men tend to be in a more heightened state of sexual arousal. The male evolutionary goal is to procreate by inseminating the woman; this requires a state of arousal. However, immediately after ejaculation, men tend to become weakened, and devoid of sexual desire. The Chinese refer to this state as a "small death."
This clarifies why premature ejaculation can be so frustrating: from the man's perspective, sexual arousal and the sexual experience end sooner than he would have liked, and from the woman's perspective, her partner is left with a flaccid, exhausted partner, who may not have the energy or desire to pleasure her (of course, a man should be sensitive to his wife's needs, and continue expressing his love and pleasuring her even after ejaculation).
This information is important, since a couple should be planning their sexual experience to ensure everyone's needs are fulfilled. Knowledge and information can help a couple understand the sexual needs of the other, and ensure that each partner enjoys sexual climax, alone and as a couple.
The possibilities for achieving this goal are endless, and the journey of exploring satisfying sexual possibilities is one that every couple should take together.
There are three primary reasons for premature ejaculation:
A lack of information and understanding of sexual functioning.
Many men suffer from premature ejaculation according to their own definition, due to the gap between their expectation and reality. The guidance they receive from parents and teachers is purely theoretical, and in this field, unlike table manners, educators are unable to teach by personal example.
Due to this problem, most people learn about sexual relationships from movies in the best case, and pornography in the worst. However, movies are not usually a good reflection of reality, and they often create unrealistic expectations, which affect sexual functioning.
What does happen during real sexual contact?
Pressure on the penis, especially on the tip of the penis, can induce ejaculation. In order to prevent this situation, the friction should be smooth and not put too much pressure on the penis. Optimal conditions for controlling ejaculation is therefore a wide and moist vagina; in other words, a woman in a state of arousal. When a woman is aroused, her body secrets lubricating agents that create optimal conditions for sexual contact.
In order for a woman to become aroused, her partner needs to pleasure her attentively, and ensure she is ready for sexual contact.
The clitoris, which is the center of a woman's sexual pleasure, is located outside her vagina. Therefore, the size of the penis and length of erection are not the primary elements that determine the female orgasm. Only 15-30% of women experience vaginal orgasm, contrary to the impression created by the movie industry.
Moreover, the joint sexual experience requires investment and desire by both partners; therefore, it is important that the woman fully familiarizes herself with her body and understands her sexual needs, so that she can direct her husband toward the type of orgasm she desires.
Another way to prevent friction is using a lubricant on both male and female genitals. This is an activity that can be done jointly and enjoyed as part of arousing foreplay.
Sexual arousal that has no release.
Men can be aroused and experience an erection without ejaculation. This is especially true of men who avoid masturbation and ejaculation outside the vagina, in light of the prohibition to waste seed. When this adherence is coupled with the laws of family purity, which limit sexual relations to approximately two weeks each month, the initial contact will often lead to uncontrollable premature ejaculation.
This is a normal and natural situation, and often a singular event that does not indicate an ongoing problem.
Premature ejaculation often occurs when a couple is exploring new sexual positions and concepts, and arousal is intensified. Here too, this is not an indication of a problem; there should be no greater joy for a woman than seeing her husband's body respond to the excitement of a new joint sexual activity.
In conclusion, enhanced sexual arousal with no release, or a new sexual experience, can both contribute to premature ejaculation.
Often the pressure to perform and the desire to prolong the sexual experience can be the cause of premature ejaculation.
Often the pressure to have an unrealistic movie-like experience can result in premature ejaculation. Another cause may be a mutual frustration that stems from the lack of distinction between sex that is intended to be fun and connective, as opposed to sex for the purpose of procreation. Tension can also be caused when a man is frustrated that he cannot help his wife orgasm, or a wife who feels only her partner orgasms while she is left unfulfilled. This tension can also be the cause of premature ejaculation.
When premature ejaculation is the result of psychological pressure, the information above may be helpful in alleviating this tension and enabling more control.
If you have read to this point, you have already taken the first and most important step: you now know that male ejaculation is caused by many factors, and understand what happens each time you ejaculate. You can now begin to take steps toward greater control of your sexual experience.
Here are some additional tips to consider:
Keep reading and learning about ejaculation in Jewish and halakhic sources (see links below). Often the fear of 'wasting seed' can take control over a couple's sexual experience unnecessarily. Information can be the key to improving your love life and sexual experience.
Read the article about Love Rings, co-authored by Limor, and consider using this product to gain better control.
Integrate pleasure products in your sexual relationship. Pleasure products can help woman reach orgasm more easily, which alleviates some of the pressure to perform.
The Gold Ring Vibrator is a pleasure product worn on the penis, close to the testicles. The product stimulates the clitoris during penetration, enabling a prolonged experience and preventing direct friction, which allows for prolonged contact. This sometimes facilitates simultaneous orgasm.
Gaining control over sexual arousal is a long but worthwhile process. Gaining knowledge and control over one's body, sexuality, pelvic floor muscles, breathing techniques, and directing pleasure toward other parts of the body, is a worthwhile endeavor in the long term.
Emotional work – one can train oneself to recognize the fears that lead to premature ejaculation. Some common emotions include fear of hurting or harming one's partner, and fear of failing a 'masculinity test.'
Mindfulness – Training oneself to be present in the moment, and derive joy out of the sexual encounter. Mindfulness leads to heightened sexuality and desire, and to a higher state of consciousness, as the heart, loving hands, and joyful face are integrated in the sexual act.