SEX & RELATIONSHIPS ∙ 4 minutes read

How to talk to your partner about sexual performance

By Joseph Lee | Medically reviewed by Dr Jaskirt Matharu

It's important to talk about erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and performance anxiety with your partner. But how? Opening up the conversation isn't easy but it's the first step to overcoming any issues in the bedroom. To break down the social barriers that prevent you from broaching the topic, we've highlighted three easy ways to discuss sexual problems with your partner.

How do you talk to your partner about erectile dysfunction? 

Some conversations are hard. And sometimes those conversations can feel even harder if you’re talking about your penis going soft. 

Erectile dysfunction is a very common male sexual dysfunction where the erectile response is altered. The problem of erectile dysfunction (ED) is estimated to impact over 322 million men around the world by 2025. 

There are many reasons why you may not be able to get an erection, ranging from psychological factors such as stress and anxiety as well as the use of substances such as alcohol or recreational drugs

Men over 40 are most likely to experience erectile dysfunction, but ED can affect anyone. If you or your partner is experiencing a weak erection or struggling to sustain one at all, it may be time to look at erectile dysfunction treatment.

In the meantime, here’s how you should talk to your partner about erectile dysfunction…

1. Tell them it’s in your blood

Early research has indicated that erectile dysfunction could be hereditary in one-third of middle-aged men.

Make sure your partner knows that your erection starts when you feel, smell, see or hear something that sexually arouses you. Once your brain gets the feeling of being turned on, and the central nervous system signals a reflex, it’s time for your blood to get pumping to your penis.

Explain to your partner that during this reflex your brain sends a signal to your penis and produces a molecule called cGMP. This molecule relaxes arteries around the base of the penis allowing lots of blood to rush in to make a hard erection. 

An enzyme called PDE5 is created naturally in your body when an erection subsides, which breaks down the cGMP. Treatments such as sildenafil and tadalafil help to block the PDE5 so blood can keep on flowing to keep you hard.

How do you talk to your partner about premature ejaculation?  

When you’re both engaging in sexual activity, being at the same point of pleasure can deepen the connection. It’s only natural you’re going to want to revel in the enjoyable moments or want to prolong things to make the experience last longer.

Then, boom! You’ve ejaculated too soon. It’s time for an early bath.

If you haven’t ejaculated for a while and you’re particularly sexually stimulated, it’s normal to reach climax a bit sooner. But if ejaculating too early happens more than 50% of the time, it’s time you had a good chat with your partner and looked at treatments.

2. Tell them it's about your future 

Talking to your girlfriend or boyfriend about premature ejaculation might seem like a funny subject. They might dismiss it as you being ‘too excited’ or see it as a sign of flattery that you've reached ejaculation so quickly. 

But it’s worth talking to your partner about premature ejaculation, especially if you’re thinking about starting a family in the future. 

If a man ejaculates too quickly when they’re being intimate with their partner but before vaginal penetration, then he won’t be able to impregnate a female. So, by talking about ejaculation dysfunction and identifying the issue, couples are able to try for a baby and premature ejaculation infertility problems can be dealt with.

But how quick is too quick to ejaculate, anyway?

Just ask them. Be open and talk about how long things take because the length of sex is not one-size-fits-all. One study into the average length of sexual intercourse recorded that around 5.5 minutes was a typical length of time for men to ejaculate. Over 500 couples from 5 countries around the world participated in this research… with their own partners of course!

How do you talk to your partner about performance anxiety?

Male performance anxiety happens when a man gets worried or stressed about the act he is about to perform or things associated with sexual activity.

There are many ways that sexual performance anxiety finds its way into the minds of men. Here are a few common performance anxiety factors:

  • Concern about how long it takes or ability to ejaculate
  • Concerns about weight or body image
  • Concerns about penis size
  • Fear that you can’t sexually satisfy your partner
  • Problems in your relationship

3. Tell them why you want it to work 

Performance anxiety ruins moments of sexual intercourse. But that doesn’t mean it has to ruin your relationship with your partner.

Talking to your partner about sexual performance anxiety means that you can work through your anxiety together. A relationship is not about burdening the other half, but about sharing problems and finding solutions.

Ask them if they wouldn’t mind trying to be intimate in other ways and build up to sexual intercourse in the bedroom. This will help to take your mind off other worries and allow you to focus on pleasurable activities rather than the imminent thought of sex.

A relaxing massage given by your partner may not only help to relieve physical stress but also put you in a relaxed state for what’s to come.

There are performance anxiety solutions that provide gratification other than just sex, too. Exploring sensory environments could also help with relieving performance anxiety. Playing with mood lighting or experimenting with fragrances such as scented candles with essential oils can reduce anxiety.

The bottom line 

Having a chat with your partner about sexual performance is a useful conversation if you’re suffering from erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and performance anxiety. There's a range of treatments out there to help you regain solid sexual performance and asking your partner to support you in these matters will benefit them as well. Let’s face it, if your sex life improves, so will theirs.

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