By Brittany Doohan
We know you’re thinking about it. We know you want to ask but aren’t sure how. Well guys, we’ve done the dirty work so you don’t have to! Here are your most embarrassing questions about sex and men’s reproductive health answered by top doctors and sex therapists.
“You’re masturbating too much if you keep being late for work!” said Marty Klein, PhD, licensed marriage and family counselor, certified sex therapist and author of Sexual Intelligence. According to the American Psychiatric Association, if masturbation gets in the way of daily activities — like going to school or work, or meeting friends — that it would be considered "too much." If that’s the case, then talk to your doctor or therapist.
Masturbating frequently will not affect your ability to conceive or to produce sperm (your body is constantly replenishing its supply). It’s perfectly healthy to masturbate every day if you like (even more than once a day!).
It is possible for men to have multiple orgasms — but it may require some training, said Jason Greenberg, PhD, a New York City-based psychotherapist and psychoanalyst who specializes in working with individuals and couples with sexual and relationship issues.
In men, there’s a mandatory reloading period after ejaculation called the “refractory period.” During this time, the penis is unable to get erect. (Women don’t ejaculate, so they don’t have a refractory period.) But, because a man's orgasm precedes ejaculation, a man can train himself to prevent ejaculation by decreasing the amount of stimulation prior to the initial ejaculation, said Greenberg. This requires a man to become more observant of his arousal pattern and learn to relax during sex.
When you see spots, lumps or rashes on your penis or scrotum, it can be very alarming. Many men may think they have a sexually transmitted disease, but in most cases the “problem area” is both common and harmless. The size, shape and color of the bumps can give you a sense of whether you should be concerned or not. The best thing you can do? “Familiarize yourself with your penis and testicles — beyond your personal enjoyment,” said Greenberg. “If you see or feel something that is unfamiliar, see a physician immediately.”
There are many potential causes for delayed ejaculation (also referred to as “ejaculatory incompetence”). Too much alcohol, prescription drugs (like antidepressants or anti-psychotics) or illicit drugs (like cocaine or marijuana) can have an effect on your ability to climax, said Andrew Rynne, MD, a specialist in sexual medicine and vasectomy surgery, and MedHelp’s Sexual Dysfunction forum expert.
Greenberg said it could also be caused by stress, fatigue, an underlying emotional problem (anxiety, depression), or your relationship with your sexual partner — if you're not feeling safe, loved or appreciated, it can impact your ability to climax.
“Ejaculating too quickly” is a tough thing to measure — there’s a lot of confusion about what “premature ejaculation” means, said Rynne. “The textbook definition used to define it as ejaculating before or within seconds of penetration,” he said. “A better definition might be: Ejaculating at a time that wasn’t intended by either partner engaged in sexual activity.”
But, if you’re going to measure how long a man should last before ejaculating by whether or not the woman has an orgasm, you’re looking for trouble, said Klein. Many women don’t climax during intercourse.
So what can you do? “Last longer by learning how to relax during sex,” said Klein. Slowing down can help you to feel more relaxed and be emotionally present. “Men have to understand just like women do that sex is not about performing, it’s about enjoyment. Those are two completely different things,” said Klein.
Premature ejaculation may also be caused by emotional distress, medications you’re taking, or a physical injury or illness, like a urinary tract infection or prostatitis, said Greenberg.
Whether it’s kissing, oral sex or anal sex, any sexual activity can be done more safely. If you are going to engage in anal sex, Greenberg recommends the following:
1. Wear a condom. “Because the anus can contain fecal matter, if you or your partner have any break in the skin on the penis or anus, bacteria or a sexually transmitted infection (STI) can easily enter the bloodstream” and infect the other person said Greenberg.
2. Use lubricant. “The anus is not self-lubricating, and anal tissue is very thin and can tear easily. Therefore, it is important to lubricate the anus to try to ensure the tissue will remain intact,” said Greenberg.
3. Go slow. “As is true with any new sexual activity, the receptive partner or ‘bottom’ may be uneasy about it, which makes it more difficult for the body and anal sphincter to relax. Trying to force penetration will neither be comfortable nor safe for the receptive partner,” said Greenberg.
The other thing to remember is that just like there are many different ways to kiss, there are many different ways to have anal sex — so have fun, take it slow and experiment!
A vasectomy (a procedure that prevents the release of sperm when a man ejaculates) is much more reversible than it used to be. Even so, doctors performing vasectomies are wary of men presenting themselves for vasectomy and asking about reversibility, said Rynne. “You go for a vasectomy because you do not want to father any more children. Inquiring about reversibility may suggest that you have not yet fully made up your mind. If that is your situation then you should not have a vasectomy,” said Rynne.
To have a more pleasurable experience while wearing a condom, try putting lube on the inside of the condom and let it warm up on the penis before intercourse (a condom that’s body temperature feels more natural).
If you’re having trouble getting an erection, the cause of it may depend on your age. In young men (under the age of 30), a common cause is performance anxiety, depression or relationship issues. In older men, erectile dysfunction is more likely caused by conditions such as diabetes, arterial disease, testosterone deficiency syndrome, performance anxiety or a combination of all the above, said Rynne.
“The keyword there is ‘slight.’ If it’s slight then that’s absolutely normal,” said Klein. If the curvature is so severe that it’s uncomfortable to have an erection, then see your doctor. Downwards bending of the erect penis may signal the beginning of Peyronie's Disease (a disease caused by scar tissue along the length of the penis, causing the penis to bend), but that is a very rare condition. “If the only concern is that your penis is not perfectly straight like a highway in Kansas, then it’s probably not a problem,” said Klein.
While there's not much research on the subject — there may be some things you can eat (or eat less of) to alter the taste of your semen.
“Eat less garlic,” said Klein. For some men, eating strong-tasting foods, like onions or garlic, makes their semen taste bitterer, said Klein. Smoking cigarettes and consuming caffeine and alcohol may also have the same effect. Conversely, because semen is about 96 percent water, 2 percent sperm, and 2 percent nutrients (like fructose and vitamin C) you may be able to add a little sweetness to your man juice by eating certain fruits, like pineapples or apples.
Remember, whether or not you alter your diet, your semen, like your breath and perspiration, have a taste and smell that’s unique to you. To learn what works (and tastes) best for you and your partner, experimentation and communication are key. “If two people are talking about how semen tastes, that’s a really good example of a sophisticated sexual relationship!” said Klein.
Published June 9, 2014.
Brittany Doohan is a health and lifestyle writer and editor living in San Francisco.