National Men’s Health Week is June 13-19, 2016. Guys, here are 6 tips for better sexual health. Ladies, feel free to listen in.
* Don’t have sex drunk
While drinking, your judgment is compromised, your sensitivity to others is reduced, and your penis slows WAY down. As Shakespeare tells MacDuff in Macbeth, “drinking stimulates desire but hinders performance.” Every year, dozens of men come to see me for supposed erection problems that are simply penises functioning normally when their owners are hammered.
And let’s be honest—sex while drunk doesn’t even feel good. It’s usually the idea of sex that people desire when drunk; the actual experience is typically sloppy, uncomfortable, and unsatisfying.
You know about “beer goggles,” right? The scientific term is “We do crazy stuff after drinking.” Be smarter than that. Remember, people are held accountable for what they do while drinking, even if they don’t care at the time.
* Don’t take contraceptive risks
Short of vehicular manslaughter, nothing will change your life like an unintended pregnancy. For a healthy future, don’t risk it—either use birth control, or enjoy sexual activities other than intercourse. Withdrawal? That’s the method used by many people who become parents when they hadn’t planned to. Besides, trying desperately to enjoy sex while not ejaculating can really get on your nerves, and even exacerbate sexual difficulties.
For a healthy present, find a reliable birth control method. And remember that vasectomy is inexpensive, simple, virtually 100% effective, and it has absolutely no effect on sexual function. Except to make sex a lot more relaxed.
* If you watch porn, don’t neglect your partner or her feelings
If your partner doesn’t like you watching porn, discuss this with her (I rarely hear gay couples argue about porn), find out exactly what her objections are—and address them, rather than blowing them off. Most couples arguing about porn are actually arguing about something else—sometimes sexual, sometimes not. Even if the two of you agree to disagree, it’s vital that your partner feels understand rather than dismissed.
If your partner wants more sex with you than you do with her, you might want to discuss that, too—although most couples would rather walk across the Sahara barefoot than discuss that incredibly sensitive topic. But that’s often what the porn argument is really about.
* Don’t proceed to intercourse if you’re not ready
The reasons that men proceed to intercourse when they’re not ready include: fear of losing their erection; boredom with the erotic activities that precede intercourse; fear that the woman will change her mind; assumptions about what a woman wants.
Of course, sex doesn’t always have to include intercourse. More to the point, if you’re not enjoying what you’re doing before it, discuss that with your partner. Engaging in “foreplay” as an unpleasant but mandatory cost to getting laid is a terrible waste. It can also create resentment and make your penis unenthusiastic.
If you start fooling around and you realize you’re just too tired, too worried, too angry, or you’ve had too much to drink, look at your partner in a friendly way and say so. She may be disappointed, but at least she won’t be having lousy sex and wondering why.
* Have realistic expectations of your body
Our bodies are not like ATMs, ready to deliver 24/7, rain or shine. It’s unrealistic to think we can get erect when we’re worried, can slide a penis into anything without lubrication, can ignore lower back pain while thrusting, or climax when we’re not excited.
Our bodies can be the site of wonderful sexual feelings. If we expect miracles, or if we forget that emotions affect our sexual functioning, we’re inviting disappointment. Don’t blame your body for working perfectly when you don’t give it the right conditions to do what you want it to.
* Remember, real sex doesn’t feel like porn looks
While partner sex can be wonderful, most of the time it isn’t an incredibly intense experience like porn portrays. Nor do most people feel as confident, as uninhibited, as spontaneous, as self-accepting, or as physically powerful as the characters portrayed in porn.
People who try to recreate in real life the emotional experiences that fictional characters portray (whether in porn, James Bond films, or car commercials) will always feel disappointed. Don’t try to create fantasy sex. Relax and create real sex.
* * *
Why haven’t I mentioned STDs?
All the information anyone needs about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of STDs is available on a jillion websites. Millions of people pay lip service to “awareness” and “protection,” although far fewer people actually consider STDs when making sexual decisions. Whether safer-sex behaviors include outercourse, condoms, or honest conversation, one more professional’s encouragement probably won’t make much difference.
So here’s what I’d say: If you have an STD, tell your partner. Preferably yesterday. Definitely today. This isn’t an issue of sexuality. It’s a matter of personal integrity and trust. And at the end of the day, that’s way more important than one less sexual encounter.