If Joseph Gordon-Levitt's stint as an obsessive porn addict in Don Jon taught us anything, it's that certain masturbating habits can wreak havoc on your sex life. A new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine just revealed that men who have unusual masturbation habitsÃ¢â‚¬”defined as techniques that cannot be easily recreated by a partner's hand, mouth or vaginaÃ¢â‚¬”may experience a variety of sexual problems.
In the cases in this study, each male patient was aroused by different stimuli, whether illegal and violent hardcore pornography, the suction of a vacuum cleaner, the force of Jacuzzi jets, or masturbating with a flaccid penis. These men also expressed frustration over the sex they were having with their partners. In fact, their sexual dysfunctions included everything from loss of sensation and low sex drive to erectile dysfunction and difficulty achieving orgasm.
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Doctors and sex therapists assigned to these cases prescribed a period of abstinence from masturbation, followed by "masturbatory retraining" (a sexual intervention which included replacing old masturbation rituals with practices that simulate intercourse) and time spent focusing on sensations of pleasure during sex with their partners. After months of work, all the men reported an increase in satisfaction from partnered sex, and a decrease, if not total eradication, of their previous sexual dysfunction.
While these stories might be a little extreme, it is true that a man's unusual masturbation habitsÃ¢â‚¬”or even just too much masturbationÃ¢â‚¬”can throw off his sexual functioning during partnered sex. "An erection is simply a conditioned response," says sex therapist Brandy Engler, Ph.D., author of The Men on My Couch. "So if he conditions his erection and ejaculation on one thing, he will grow to require that."
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But if you think your guy's solo sessions are hindering his performance when you're together, you don't need to do your best imitation of a vacuum cleaner or hardcore pornography to help him get off. Engler actually suggests a similar treatment to the study: "If the guy were my patient, I'd have him hit the reset button by not masturbating at all for a month or 90 days if there is also an addiction happening." Then have your partner retrain his body by only masturbating in a way that is more similar to intercourse.
As the study points out, masturbation is like a dress rehearsal for partnered sex, so if you're practicing the wrong parts, you won't be prepared for opening night. And similarly, too much solo action in general may decrease his desire to have sex with a partner. If a period of abstinence and retraining still doesn't help the problem, there's also a chance that there are emotional issues at play, which may make it easier to achieve orgasm during solo sex than with a partner. "An erection or ejaculation is sensitive to relationship factors such as anxiety, anger, boredom," says Engler. "This is most often the real problem." In that case, it may be time to see a sex therapist or urologist about the issue and get your sex life back on track.
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