To come or not to come?

Dear Alice:

I'm 15 years old, and I'm not interested in having sex until I'm married; however, I do have a girlfriend. When I make out with my girlfriend, I end up ejaculating. Now our making out doesn't really involve anything sexual, mostly just kissing. I don't want to not make out with her, but I don't like the coming part of it. I did masturbate starting when I was a little kid, because I didn't know what I was doing, but I stopped doing that over a month ago. I don't want to tell my parents or doctor about this. Please help me!

too young

Dear too young,

Kudos to you for having such a strong sense of what you want to do with regard sex. It can be frustrating when you have an intellectual notion of what you want regarding sex, but your body has a different idea. Bodily responses like erections, ejaculation, vaginal lubrication, and orgasms are largely involuntary, meaning that they are not under conscious control of the individual. It may be worth exploring what makes you want to avoid ejaculating. Is it the sensation of orgasm you wish to avoid? Or, is it the wetness of ejaculation? What are you feeling when these things happen? Guilt? Shame? Embarrassment? Or is it that you lose interest in making out after you come?

You also mentioned that you used to masturbate but then you stopped about a month ago. What led to you stopping? Masturbating before your dates with your girlfriend may be one good way to temporarily reduce sensitivity in your penis, which would make it less likely that you would come when you don’t want to. Myths about masturbation abound, but it is a common and healthy practice, and can be especially useful for people wishing to remain abstinent.

However, if masturbation is not an option for you, here are some other options to consider that may help to reduce your arousal level while making out with your girlfriend:

  • Think of something unsexy. Anything that is not a turn-on to you. The advantage of this is that you can probably do it without having to explain anything to your girlfriend (because it’s all in your head), but the disadvantage is that it may take you out of the moment to some degree. The thought or image doesn’t have to be specifically unpleasant, it can even be neutral. Just having something else to focus on besides her may be helpful in turning down the volume on your arousal. It could be a sound, a funny song, a smell, an image, or a phrase.
  • Practice mindfulness. This is the opposite of the idea above in the sense that it involves going more fully into the experience with your girlfriend. Focus more deeply on the sensations as an observer of yourself. As you notice your arousal building, try not to suppress it or deny. In this way, you treat the sensations of arousal like passing clouds: notice the sensation without judgment, simply say “hello” to it, and let it pass outside of your awareness like a cloud passes overhead, without letting it overtake you. This technique, derived from Eastern meditation practices, takes some practice. It may be worth practicing mindfulness in a less…invigorating context. Before you try this during your make-out session, try it while eating or going on a walk. In any setting, you can focus on the physical sensations you are experiencing and practice observing the sensation without becoming overwhelmed by it or judging it.
  • Take breaks. If you start to feel yourself getting close to orgasm, you can stop making out and try taking a break and some deep breaths until you become less aroused. The hard thing about this one (no pun intended) is that you may need to explain to your girlfriend why you need to stop. Is she aware of your ejaculation and that you are trying curb it? Or is it something you’d prefer her not to know about? Remember that women also secrete vaginal fluids when aroused so if she is having a good time, this is possibly something you could both share and perhaps even joke about together.
  • Keep ice or anything frozen nearby. For many people, extreme cold can decrease arousal (hence the phrase “take a cold shower”). So you could take a make-out break and hold the cold item in one hand for a few seconds and focus on that feeling of cold. Again, this one requires some explaining, so that may be a drawback. Also, ice and cold can also be used for erotic play. If you think either you or she may be tempted to use the ice for fun, it may be best not try this one, since you are trying to feel less turned on rather than more.

Trying to prevent yourself from feeling your feelings may backfire, but if you can re-direct your attention on something other than the sensations of arousal, it may help. Whatever you decide to do, remember that the feelings of arousal, orgasm, and ejaculation are common and healthy.

Last updated Jul 01, 2015
Originally published Feb 28, 1997

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