Welcome to the third edition of Unscrewing Ourselves, where we hope to normalise topics on sexual and reproductive health and wellness.
The first ‘case study’, if you may, that we encounter in the first episode of Netflix’s Sex Education, is that of Adam Groff, the son of the extremely conservative Headmaster Groff, who, among other potentially more troubling aspects, has trouble ‘letting go’ (in more ways than one). It’s not just his fixation with his ex-girlfriend or personal vendetta against certain boys of his class, but also one very crucial physiological function: He just can’t cum. “Where’s the spunk, Adam?” asks his befuddled girlfriend, holding up a scrunched-up empty condom.
Which brings us to this week’s edition of Unscrewing Ourselves, which definitely lacks the spunk (the other definition this time) in conversations on the sexual and reproductive health of men in India. Delayed (also Retarded) Ejaculation (DE) is a sexual dysfunction attributed to men, characterised by “a chronic inability or difficulty in ejaculating despite sexual arousal and penile erection”. “It is the least common of the sexual dysfunctions affecting males but may have a higher incidence than previously assumed,” says this case report that goes back to 1984.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information labels this condition as a “poorly defined and uncommon form of male sexual dysfunction”, and suggests that the pathophysiological reasons of DE is “multifactorial, including both organic and psychosocial factors that are neither independent nor mutually exclusive”. Factors ranging from insufficient sexual stimulation, ageing, genetics and use of antidepressants have also been attributed, yet not entirely confirmed. “No approved drug therapy exists. A rigid treatment plan is not suitable for all patients,” the study concludes. Perhaps Adam Groff from Sex Education has more reasons to worry about than just one.
In India, there is little to no research on DE. Worse, hetero bros aren’t exactly known for their openness to discuss sex and sexuality with each other. However, we found our first contributor to this unevolved conversation: Mayank Pandit*, a 22-year-old student from Chandigarh. Below, Pandit opens up to VICE about DE, the stigma of sexual dysfunctions in India, and how he made peace with it:
I first encountered this problem when I was 20 and had made an impromptu plan to meet my then-girlfriend. I had wanked an hour or so before and wasn’t expecting her to give me a blowjob. After about an hour of giving head and me not cumming, we were both quite perplexed. She felt that it was probably me not finding her attractive enough. I didn’t know any better myself, but I concluded that it was probably due to the fact that I had wanked off right before we made a plan to meet, so next time I would abstain from it. We both agreed it was that, and the situation diffused.
I hadn’t had a stable or active sex life until this point, so it wasn’t that much of a concern. A short while later, I had sex with my next partner (also an ex now) and didn’t cum. I had been on psychiatric medication for six-seven months, so we did know that it could’ve been a side-effect. We weren’t scientists or doctors, but it made most sense to us, so we could carry on without any issue.
Delayed Ejaculation (DE), from what I understand, is when the guy takes either much longer than usual to cum (usually more than 30 minutes) or not at all during sex. This doesn’t mean he’s unable to produce sperm or maintain an erection—those are different sexual conditions in themselves. Men with delayed ejaculation can, however, have a release while masturbating or through nightfall.
From what I have read, it can be either psychological in nature—due to performance anxiety or a host of other mental fears and roadblocks—or it could be biological. The biological cause is when your masturbatory technique involves a “death grip” on your dick (which affects blood flow down there), a lack of lubricant to stimulate the moistness in a vagina, a really fast and rapid jerking hand motion (much faster than you can manage while actually having sex or a combination of all three), which ends up desensitising the nerve endings of the dick.
The symptoms may be uniform. Some men can actually cum after a really long time, others can’t. It all depends on what the cause of the disorder is and it may be easier for men with a psychological cause to be able to climax rather than those with a more biological cause.
There really isn’t any openness regarding DE simply because most people aren’t aware such a condition can even exist. The fact that there has been no ground-breaking research to help tackle this issue sheds light on how little known this problem is.
Also, DE can be misinterpreted as impotence or sterility and that may, yet again, stop people from coming out [and talking] about it. It’s already a taboo topic in India where people with the condition are called namard (not a man) or where the term napunsik (erectile dysfunction) is used in a derogatory manner. However, people seem to forget the bigger picture here: DE has nothing to do with ability to maintain an erection. It’s just about release, and if you’re able to cum while masturbating or through nightfall, you aren’t sterile or impotent.
DE hasn’t affected me in a major way, especially physically. I’m able to get it up, and go. It’s just the fact that I can last till I get tired, not till I cum. It can still get limp midway, among other issues that guys face during sex. Mentally and emotionally, I used to feel bad because I’d end up feeling insecure about not cumming, and it would border on how I’m deformed or “not a real man”, and thoughts like that. Because you kinda do expect to have a happy ending for yourself at the end of sex, irrespective of gender, right? But I couldn’t and it just sucked. But it has stopped affecting me anymore since I’ve owned this now. I do feel bad though, that I may not be able to fulfill a couple of fantasies without having to really put some effort into it.
So far, I haven’t been to a therapist or a doctor, but yes I’d definitely want to soon. I don’t know if support groups exist, but it would be great if they do. It would help raise awareness. By myself, I have tried to simulate how a vagina feels when I masturbate, in an attempt to reprogram(?). I loosened my grip, I used a LOT of cream, and went slow. But honestly, it got really depressing after I tried to wank off for an hour or even an hour and a half and didn’t cum, so I gave up.
I have spoken to a few friends and they’ve been very supportive. In fact, it was one of my friends who made me realise that I can last longer in bed and that it’s a good thing, which I can advertise on dating apps, ha ha. My friends never made me feel like I’m some freak or made fun of me. They just listened and I think that helped me to get over the whole self-imposed stigma/fear.
Have I made peace with DE? Oh yes, absolutely! It’s not like this is negatively impacting my health or my ability to have kids if I ever want to. It has actually helped me feel good about myself. I can last a pretty long time and have got my ex to have a really intense orgasm. That was a good feeling because of all the jokes about guys who can’t get women to orgasm. Plus someone even jokingly said that I can potentially save on condoms (though I make sure to wear one nevertheless)!
If there’s a subject within the spectrum of sexual and reproductive health in India that you feel strongly about and want to vocalise it, write to email@example.com.
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