Peer Health

Problems with Male Sexual Functioning

In our society, men are often expected to be all-knowledgeable about sexual functioning as well as omnipotent. Because of this, it may be difficult for men to ask questions or raise concerns about this area. Men tend to worry a great deal about “size” and “performance.” Potency refers to the ability to achieve and maintain an erection and to ejaculate semen. Potency has nothing to do with the size of a man’s penis or testicles–nor does size have anything to do with sexual performance. Though penis size varies greatly in the non-erect (flaccid) state, the variation is much less among erect organs.

Impotence

Men sometimes experience situations in which they expect to have an erection but don’t. This temporary form of impotence is usually associated with fatigue, nervousness, or large amounts of alcohol and/or other drugs. In young men, the problem is often performance anxiety–if you worry too much about not having an erection, you probably won’t. Nocturnal erections are usually an indication that there is not a physical cause for the impotence. The man may find that talking with his partner about his anxiety helps to improve the situation. If the condition occurs frequently, he may want to see a physician to rule out a medical problem.

Unintended Ejaculation

Unintended or premature ejaculation simply refers to the experience of ejaculating without wanting to. In heterosexual intercourse, men become sexually excited and reach orgasm faster than women. This can be the source of much misunderstanding between partners. Often, and especially with new partners, a man may ejaculate “too soon,” often before the other person has had an opportunity to begin to reach orgasm. If sexual activity stops at that point, it is best for the man to be up front about the problem with his partner. Trying to deny its existence or becoming embarrassed will only lead to a misunderstanding and may contribute to a recurrence of the problem. On the other hand, talking about it often leads to a solution, possibly based on a change in technique. Furthermore, solving the problem together should increase intimacy. If unintended ejaculation continues, partners can easily be taught techniques to improve ejaculatory control.

Blue Balls

Prolonged sexual excitement without ejaculation can sometimes cause a cramping feeling in the testicles and/or urinary tract, commonly known as “blue balls.” One of the oldest lines men have used with their partners after heavy or prolonged foreplay suggests that since the partner has “caused” this excitement that it is important to have intercourse or the man will be physically damaged. Although blue balls are often quite painful in the short-term, that is the sum total of their effect. The feeling will dissipate by itself in a short time. Masturbation is also successful in relieving these cramps and reducing the discomfort.