How old are you?
Man One: Twenty eight.
Man Two: Thirty two.
Man Three: Twenty nine.
Are you currently in a relationship?
Man One: Yes, for roughly six years.
Man Two: Yes, but it’s very recent.
Man Three: No.
How long have you been living with your Erectile Dysfunction (ED) or Premature Ejaculation?
Man One: Having to deal with ED has been a pretty recent problem for me. I say recent, but it’s been two years. My girlfriend and I have been dating for about six years and living together for close to four of them, so it’s not like this was something we had to work through when we met. I have a medication that I was prescribed that I have to take, and this is an unfortunate side effect. I’ve tried a few other prescription drugs to help with this, but they have their own host of issues.
Man Two: Ever since I was first having sex. I have mild ED, but that’s not the medical term for it, I don’t think. What I deal with is premature ejaculation.
Man Three: I’m not exactly sure because it’s happened on and off, but it’s something that has cropped up for at least seven years. More recently, it’s been happening a lot more. My career is very stressful, and to be blunt, my penis doesn’t really work great when work has me really stressed. Other things can trigger it too, but stress overall is a big factor.
What’s something you wish your partner or partners knew right away about it?
Man One: Well, in my case, we were both really learning about it at the same time, so it’s tough for me to say. It’s not like I really had time to process this and she didn’t. I do wish she realised that it still meant I wanted to have sex sooner. I think she was a little too sensitive about it when we first found out this was going to be a problem. But I could still enjoy sex and I could still make sure she got off, we just had to keep it in mind.
Man Two: That [partners] aren’t part of the problem or contributing to the problem. This is a biological issue.
Man Three: They can’t take it personally. Like, no one wants to have sex more than me, trust me. It’s very frustrating to have your penis not work when you need it to, especially in cases where I had a dry spell or something before. That’s happened to me a few times. I went months without having sex and then the pressure didn’t help things.
How do you work around the issue?
Man One: For me and my partner, it’s just a matter of planning around when I’m taking my drugs. It’s weird to have specific windows to have sex, because we’re effectively scheduling it now. So it’s not like we can’t have sex, so much as our sex is no longer spontaneous. There’s a comedian who… I can’t remember his name [Editor’s note: it’s definitely Mitch Hedberg] who says something about how long baked potatoes take to make, and sometimes he’ll put one in the oven even if he doesn’t feel like having a baked potato because in three hours he might want one. Sometimes it feels like that, like, “well, let’s have sex now just because we can right now.” But it’s usually still a lot of fun and it’s not like we’re dealing with a five minute window or anything, either. We make it work.
Man Two: It’s difficult to, directly. Stress and high blood pressure can trigger issues for me in bed. I make sure to work out a lot and it seems to help but that could be psychosomatic. Indirectly, I make sure to do a lot of foreplay before [penetrative] sex…
Man Three: It’s something where usually I can just take a very long time to get hard. It’s rare that sex has to get cancelled, but sometimes just the frustration of trying to get things going can really screw up the vibe.
Do you think there’s a stigma around ED/PE?
Man One: Yes. I think people think it’s some kind of a failure on the guy’s part. And in my case it’s just something that I have to deal with right now. If I can find a better medication or something, then everything goes back to normal for me. At least, hypothetically.
Man Two: Yes, and people think premature ejaculation means you orgasm in your pants before anything happens. PE is really considered orgasming under a minute, which is what happens to me. There are probably men out there who don’t even realise that they fall under that category.
Man Three: Definitely. I don’t want to sound too full of myself, but I think a lot of people would be surprised that I’m someone who has this problem.
How do you broach the subject with a new partner?
Man One: That’s not something I’ve had to deal with.
Man Two: I don’t have any one-night stands and I wait until the third or fourth date to initiate anything. I let them know I have a medical problem but we can still do this. When they hear “medical problem” they’re usually relieved to find out that it’s “just” premature ejaculation.
Man Three: I don’t feel like I have to until it actually happens. I’ve had girlfriends who didn’t even know I had this problem because we didn’t date for that long. And I’ve never done it but I also don’t want a woman to think I’m being presumptuous, like, “Hey, if we go back to your place to fuck my penis might give me some pushback.” My ex-girlfriend that I dated for a few years knew to back off sexually when work got bad. She was very aggressive otherwise.
Have you ever had a strong negative reaction when someone found out?
Man One: No, but again, this is a problem that I’ve only had to work through with my girlfriend.
Man Two: I’ve never had anyone walk out on me, but I have had a few romances fizzle out afterwards. I suspect this was why.
Man Three: No, but I did have a very angry ex tell everyone that my dick doesn’t work as revenge. That was really shitty and even though it isn’t totally true, it stung bad. I definitely felt betrayed.
What’s the best thing a partner could do when you’re dealing with one of these situations?
Man One: Keep the situation you’re in as comfortable as possible. It’s almost like… how people who do intense drugs might have a “trip sitter” — someone who is sober and just walking them through the situation. A good partner is almost like that. Just walking you through it and keeping your mind off of it. Take the time to focus on their needs, doing foreplay or something else that’s still sexual.
Man Two: This sounds counterintuitive, but ignoring it is great. Not necessarily acting like nothing is happening, but acting like nothing is wrong is very much helpful, at least in my case. I do want to note that I’m not saying everyone do that necessarily, but for me it takes a lot of the pressure off, and pressure is something that doesn’t help my situation.
Man Three: Just being patient is enough. It’s something that you can work through, to a degree. I don’t want to speak for everyone with ED and issues in the bedroom, because everyone is different. But at least in my case, this was completely a surmountable obstacle.
And what’s the worst thing they could do?
Man One: Act like the sex is over, especially if they think they’re being helpful or nice about it. It just makes things more frustrating and difficult in the long run.
Man Two: Anything that would feel like ridiculing. Laughing or sighing and huffing. Very obviously coming up with an excuse to leave. This is, at least on some level, a mental block, and undercutting confidence will just make things worse for the person suffering.
Man Three: Beyond the obvious reactions, like getting angry or annoyed, acting like it’s their fault instead can be tough to deal with. It’s understandable if someone isn’t really familiar with dealing with ED, but making the guy whose penis doesn’t work feel guiltier than he already does means this won’t go well.