There’s more and more talk nowadays about the need to accord women’s pleasure and women’s orgasms higher priority and higher prominence, both in life and in porn—closing the orgasm gap, as it were—but there are fewer discussions about men’s orgasms. That’s because men are generally afforded both a guarantee of completion and an expectation that said completion will come every time (pun fully intended).

Though they absolutely shouldn't be, men’s orgasms are often treated as the defining premise and parameter of all sexual activity. While there is all kinds of unfairness in this for women and people of other genders, there’s also some in it for men. Why? Because while prioritizing someone’s orgasms can be key to them reaching O-shaped nirvana, it can also put pressure on an already challenging scenario. Translation: some men also struggle to cum.

Delayed ejaculation (DE) affects almost 8% of men according to sexual health expert Dr Tobias Köhler of Illinois. Men with DE can have sex for long periods without finishing, often giving up due to exhaustion or embarrassment. Yet they can orgasm alone. Usually, with similar causes to DE, erectile dysfunction (ED) is when a man has trouble getting or keeping an erection. ED may affect 1 in 4 men under 40, according to one study.

Here are 8 possible reasons why your guy may be having one or more of these troubles:

1. Maybe it is the sex

It's almost certainly not you. But maybe it is the sex. Maybe he doesn’t know how to communicate what he wants. Most people do have a hard time asking for what they want sexually—a real cock block of a reality. Try expressing a desire you’ve been too shy about, and then ask him for one in return. Maybe it’s some good ol’ dirty talk, well-positioned mirrors, (more) oral, bondage, role play, candlelight, a cock ring, or maybe it's anal—and not necessarily the kind you think. Although the anus is still kinda taboo among straight males, simply pressing a finger against his could bring on an orgasm. Discuss your comfort levels. Sometimes we think we’re not into certain things, only to surprise ourselves. Bottom line: you should both feel very aroused and ready before intercourse (if that’s the main event). And, remember, sex is better for all involved if you’re getting yours, so if that’s been lacking too, act accordingly. 


2. It might be his solo technique

One of the most common causes of DE is a rough masturbation style involving a particular grip or speed impossible to recreate during sex. According to author Brandy Engler, Ph.D., men who tend to use this style can apparently reset their baseline for sexual stimuli by refraining from masturbation for a few weeks and then "retraining" their cock by switching to a technique that's closer to the sensation of sexual intercourse. Will this work for your guy? Only one way to find out. Is asking a guy to temporarily give up masturbating weird? Maybe, but it just might be worth it, and could also be exciting if you find a way to make the waiting part of your foreplay.

3. He's been drinking/taking drugs

Booze may be considered a social lubricant, but it’s no surprise that some recommend alcohol as a treatment for premature ejaculation. Alcohol acts by inhibiting parts of the central nervous system integral to sexual arousal and orgasm: respiration, circulation, and the sensitivity of nerve endings. It also dehydrates, decreasing the volume of blood necessary to transport oxygen and heightened sensation to one’s genitals. In moderation, alcohol can make sex fun, but while the elixir of seeming enchantment can help some overcome inhibitions or insecurities, one drink too many can start inhibiting one’s ability to respond to sexual stimuli. 

4. It could be health-related

Some chronic or neurological/autoimmune conditions, like multiple sclerosis, hypothyroidism, and diabetes, can be accompanied by sexual dysfunction, and doctors won't always mention it. Short-term health conditions like UTIs and other infections can also prevent men from having orgasms. Injuries, heart disease, prostate issues, and hormonal imbalances can also affect a man’s ability to orgasm. Since there are so many possibilities, you might encourage your guy to get checked.

5. Medications can play a role

Certain chemicals can affect the nerves involved in ejaculation, which can affect ejaculation with or without a partner. For example, antidepressants like fluoxetine (Prozac); antipsychotics like thioridazine (Mellaril); and medications for high blood pressure like propranolol (Inderal). If your guy is on any of these meds or others, it may be worth a consultation with his doctor to get to the bottom of any sexual dysfunction, and determine whether or not there are alternatives to that won’t have such effects.

6. Aging

As men age, they sometimes need more stimulation in order to ejaculate. While aging can weaken the muscles involved in ejaculation and orgasm, ultimately decreasing the sensation a man feels, there are solutions. Kegel exercises are not just for women, and neither are pelvic floor therapists. When men suffer from ED, painful urination, frequent or involuntary urination, painful ejaculation, and a host of other issues, they might not suspect their pelvic floor muscles, and that’s a shame, because I’m convinced pelvic floor exercises could change the world.

7. It’s emotional

No matter what the issue(s) affecting your guy’s sexual prowess, there is often a mental component. Any kind of mental health problem, anxiety, or even general stress can put a damper on sex for a man. Not in a good way. Some guys have a “delivery boy attitude”—AKA a tremendous amount of pressure to “perform” and/or “deliver” in the bedroom. He may need to stop thinking of your (or his) orgasm as a linear action with a highly defined timeline. Neither of you should feel weird about stopping sex to take breaks, have a glass of water, cuddle, laugh, and then get turned on all over again. A little goes a long way. If something more profoundly emotional is getting in the way for him, he might consider getting to the root of it and possibly talking to a therapist.


8. He might be satisfied as is

People of all genders have the right not to be pressured into focusing on orgasming if that’s not actually what they feel called to do. If it’s a relationship worth having, it’s a relationship worth working on, and that starts with communication. While there’s not necessarily anything you can do to boost your man’s ability to orgasm, you can (if you so choose, and he accepts) help nudge him in the right direction.