The Sexuality Advisor, Issue #2

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Column #2 - May 15, 2000

Welcome to The Sexuality Advisor, a new feature at! Every other week, we'll answer a few questions about sex, love, and relationships submitted by our readers.

We're thrilled--questions continue to pour in! Regretfully, we cannot answer every letter individually, and no, we will not send you pictures. Whether or not your question is answered in this forum, you can be sure that your email address and question will be kept strictly confidential. We reserve the right to edit the letters we publish for readability and length.

What's Up With My Erections?


I'm concerned about my ability to stay erect. I'm an 18 year old male and have been dating my girlfriend for almost 1 1/2 years. The first time we both had sex (we were both virgins), it was great, and it still is, well... up until the last 2 days. I've been having problems staying erect. I'm up during foreplay, up during oral, and we even get some vaginal sex in before I put a condom on, but as soon as I pull out and put one on, I lose my erection, and then I can't get it back up. I feel horrible when this happens, and it also makes my girlfriend feel insulted and inadequate. This has never happened to me before. Could it possibly be because I had sex multiple times a few days ago? I don't think that should be a problem. I've read somewhere it could be performance anxiety (which it may be). I've also been a little dehydrated, could this be why? I love my girlfriend very much and I really want to get things back to normal. Please help!


Dear DL,

First, some reassurance: most guys, at some time or another, have a little difficulty staying hard. Even though we have this cultural expectation that men are sex machines who are ready to fuck at the drop of a hat (or maybe the drop of their pants?), the fact is that sometimes a guy can be too tired or preoccupied or just plain unable for whatever reason to get it up and get it on. It's human nature, and you're only human, so try to ease up on yourself about it. And though I'm sure you already have, let your girlfriend know that this is no reflection on your desire for her. Remember that there are plenty of ways to please each other that don't involve penis-in-vagina intercourse. If your erection falters, go with the flow and pleasure her in other ways, with your hands or your mouth. Show her that you're hot for her no matter what...and don't be surprised if your find yourself being re-energized along the way!

So maybe your sexual "batteries" did need to recharge if you had a lot of sex a few days ago. Maybe you were a little dehydrated. If you're generally healthy and not on antidepressants--which can definitely affect sexual functioning--it's probably just a passing phenomenon and not a long-term problem.

Finally, let me expound a bit on condoms. In your letter you say that your erection goes away when you put a condom on. Here are some suggestions for making condoms more pleasurable (and more effective as contraceptives!): --Use water-soluble lube (like KY, ForPlay, or Astroglide). Putting a drop inside the condom before you put it on may make sex feel a lot better. Using a generous dollop on the outside of the condom before you have intercourse also helps with the slip and the slide (and makes the condom less likely to break, too). This is true regardless of how wet your lover gets. Lube is just part of condom technology. Lube is your friend. --It's not uncommon for guys to have a little trouble "switching gears" when the sensations change after putting on a condom. If you're unfamiliar with using condoms, try them out on your own: get a bottle of lube and some condoms, and masturbate with one on. Get used to the way it feels. Sex with condoms does feel different than without, but most men get accustomed to the difference and do just fine (probably because their partners are thrilled that it takes them longer to come). --Consider trying some different brands of condoms. Not all of them are created equal. Japanese condoms, for instance, are thinner than US and European condoms, and some guys find them to be a lot more sensitive. And some guys find that the shape of the condom has a big impact on what they feel. Check out some of the assortments from Condom Sense and see if you can find a brand that works better for you. --If you're using condoms as contraception (and I assume you are), then you're playing with fire by having unprotected vaginal intercourse before you put your condom on. The pre-cum that drips out of your penis when you're aroused has fertile sperm in it that is perfectly capable of impregnating your girlfriend. If you don't want to risk a pregnancy, put on a condom before there is any contact between your penis and her vulva. If you find even after you've explored lubes and different brands that you can't keep an erection for intercourse with a condom on, and you want to continue to have intercourse, find a different method of birth control.

Best of luck, DL. I'll bet by the time you read this reply, your problem will already be long gone. Have fun, but play safe--get your birth control under control!

Did I Orgasm?

Hi. I am a 29 year old woman and have experienced two orgasms in my life - or did I? I didn't get a "wow" feeling from it. I can and do get very wet, but only twice do I think I actually orgasmed. I don't know how to tell if this wetness is orgasm or not. I need advice!


Dear J,

Sorry though I am to say it, just because you're wet doesn't mean you've had an orgasm. Womens' vaginas can get pretty moist when they're not aroused at all--for instance, they tend to get slick in the days before ovulation. But if you're getting very wet because you're sexually excited, you're definitely headed in the right direction toward orgasm, even if you're not quite there!

An orgasm is an involuntary release of tension that's a little difficult to describe. Probably the best comparison is to a sneeze, of all things! Before orgasm, people (male and female) typically experience some muscle tension in legs and abdomen, curling of toes, and change in breathing, and orgasm causes a very pleasurable resolution of that tension. If any of that sounds familiar, congratulations! You've hit the Big O.

If not, don't despair. Find some time for yourself and masturbate to see what "trips your trigger". Get yourself some steamy reading or a sexy video for inspiration. If you don't usually give much thought to your clitoris, give it some loving attention and you may be amply rewarded.

Hope that helps, and enjoy!

To whom it may concern,

I am a young male, 18, and love to have sex. Unfortunately, my girlfriend isn't around all of the time, so I masturbate. It happens more than 10 times a week. And sometimes even up to 2, 3, or even 4 times in an entire day or night. Recently, I had been masturbating, and felt some sort of a pain in my groin area. A pain as if I pulled a muscle down there or something. And it hurts at this very moment. Have I hurt myself in someway, or am I just stroking too much...? And if I did hurt myself, what could I have done...? And how could I get treated, and or prevent it. Should I stop...? Also, is too much masturbation detrimental to a young mans sexual health...? Please let me know what is going on.

Thank you for your time,

Hi, SV,

I'm not a doctor, so I can't diagnose what's going on with the pain in your groin. But if you got that pain as a result of masturbating, it's probably a good idea to not do so for a few days and see if the pain goes away. (Remember that old joke: Guy goes to the doctor and says, "It hurts when I do this." Doctor says, "So don't do that.") Seriously, though, if the pain doesn't go away after you haven't masturbated for a few days, or if it gets worse, go to the doctor and get it checked out. Don't be shy. Doctors have pretty much seen it all, and nothing you say will be shocking to them.

Generally, though, masturbation is normal and healthy, and several times a day isn't too much. Don't worry. And get better soon!

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