Masturbating before sex to last longer: Does it really work?

We break down the connection between masturbation and sexual performance, and tell you what you can do that will actually make you last longer in bed.

Written by
Stephanie Anderson
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
May 26, 2022
8
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Masturbation. Not only is it fun, but it also has a number of health benefits.

Masturbation is a great way to relieve stress and relax as it releases endorphins and can even enhance self-esteem and body image.

Some people believe that if you masturbate before having sex, it will help you to last longer in bed.

The idea is that if you masturbate a few hours before sexual intercourse, it will release any pent up sexual tension in the body that may result in premature ejaculation. But is that actually true?

In this article, we'll break down the connection between masturbation and sexual performance, and tell you what you can do that will actually make you last longer in bed.

Does masturbating before sex help you last longer?

There's no actual scientific evidence that masturbating before sex can help desensitise the penis enough to make you last longer in bed.

In fact, there's no scientific evidence to show that masturbation has any impact on your sex life, good or bad.

Still, Medical News Today reports that "there are plenty of anecdotal claims to support" the idea of masturbation making you last longer, so it's possible that it works for some people and not for others, although the reasons for this are unclear.

So where does the idea that masturbating before sex will help you last longer come from? Medical News Today suggests that it's primarily a psychological issue.

They explain that if a person is feeling a lot of pent up sexual tension prior to having sex, it's more likely that they'll rush through the act in order to orgasm as quickly as possible.

Alternately, if they've recently had an orgasm via masturbating before sex, it's more likely that they'll be in less of a rush to reach the climax, and therefore more able to slow down and... enjoy the ride.

After you orgasm, your body goes into what's known as a 'refractory period', which is when your body recovers from the orgasm by limiting its response to sexual stimulation.

Some men find that if they're able to have sexual intercourse during this period, they're able to last longer, but there are potential issues that arise with this method.

Can it affect your performance?

The idea of masturbating before sex is heavily linked to the refractory period, which everyone experiences after climax. So what is the refractory period?

Sex researchers Masters and Johnson explain that there are four phases of each sexual encounter, be it via masturbation or sexual intercourse. They are:

  1. Excitement: This is the physical onset of sexual arousal, aka getting hard
  2. Plateau: This is a continuation of phase one
  3. Orgasm: Pretty self-explanatory, really
  4. Resolution: This is where the male refractory period happens, when the body recovers, heart rate settles and blood flow to the penis and genitals returns to normal

The International Society for Sexual Medicine, or ISSM, reports that "during the refractory period, a man doesn’t think about sex or get aroused".

They add that the body won't "respond to sexual stimulation" during the refractory period, meaning that he'll be "unable to reach orgasm again until the period is over".

So how long does it last? Well, it depends.

Everyone's refractory period is different, and there are many variables that can affect how long it takes your body to recover after an orgasm.

The ISSM reports that while "younger men may need only a few minutes of recovery time", older men "usually have a longer refractory period, sometimes between 12 to 24 hours" and in some cases, it can even take a few days.

If you're someone who has shorter refractory periods or deals with early ejaculation, then it's possible that masturbating before sex could be beneficial.

On the other hand, if your body takes a little longer to recover between orgasms, masturbating before sex could actually hinder your sexual performance. If you try to have sex while your body is still in its refractory period, you may experience difficulties getting or maintaining your erection.

If you're someone who experiences erectile dysfunction or trouble maintaining erections, this technique is unlikely to be helpful.

Really, the takeaway here is that everyone is different. There's no "normal" amount of time that you should be lasting in bed before orgasm, and there's no "normal" amount of time that it should take you to recover between orgasms.

The best way to figure out if masturbating before sex will affect your performance is simply trial and error. Seeing how long it generally takes you to get an erection again after orgasming will be a good indicator of how long your refractory period usually is.

What is mindful wanking?

Recently, the internet has been abuzz with the concept of mindful masturbation. Basically, it's all about truly exploring the mind-body experience of masturbating as a way to fully enjoy the moment-to-moment experience of masturbation, rather than doing it simply as a way to get off.

Even better, mindful masturbation can help with lasting longer in bed, as well as a number of other types of erectile dysfunction.

"The practice of mindful sex helps you slow down, pause, and be in the present moment," Janet Britto, a clinical psychologist at the Centre for Sexual Health and Reproductive Health told Mashable.

"It helps you adopt a perspective that is open, curious, non-judgmental, so you give yourself permission to be in your body and experience pleasure," Britto explained.

When should you worry about premature ejaculation?

While there are no set guidelines for how long sex is supposed to last, many men worry that they're not lasting long enough in bed.

As a general rule of thumb, if you're regularly reaching climax within one minute of intercourse, then it's likely you're dealing with premature ejaculation.

Although men rarely talk about it, it's actually something that a lot of men deal with at some point. In fact, up to 37% of men deal with premature ejaculation to some degree.

Premature ejaculation was once believed to be a purely psychological condition, but in more recent years, doctors have come to the conclusion that it can be caused by a mix of psychological and biological factors.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the psychological factors that can play a role are anxiety and depression, with low self-esteem and performance anxiety being major triggers. A history of sexual abuse can also be a contributing factor.

Another psychological element that can cause premature ejaculation is relationship problems with your sexual partner, along with any feelings of guilt or shame.

As for biological factors, abnormal hormone levels, abnormal levels of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, inflammation and infection of the prostate or urethra, and/or inherited traits can all cause PE, according to the Mayo Clinic.

If you believe you're suffering from premature ejaculation and it's concerning you, it's best to seek out medical advice, as there are treatment options.

Pilot offers personalised premature ejaculation treatment plans that can include oral medication, as well as non-medical tools and resources. Simply answer a few questions in our text-based online assessment, and our Australian doctors will formulate a treatment plan just for you.

How to make sex last longer

There are a few other techniques you can try to see if they help you last longer in bed. Aside from masturbating before sex, Health Direct suggests:

  • Using a condom to help decrease sensation
  • Taking a deep breath in to briefly shut down the ejaculatory reflex (an automatic reflex of the body during which ejaculation occurs)
  • Have sex with your partner on top, so they can pull away when you’re close to ejaculating
  • Trying different positions that you may find less arousing
  • Taking a break and thinking of something other than sex

The stop-start technique

One way to regain control over your orgasms is with a technique called edging, or the stop-start technique.

Basically, the idea is that when you feel yourself approaching the "edge" of an orgasm, you cease all sexual activity immediately. Then, you wait until that feeling of being on the brink subsides enough that you can continue on without orgasming, repeating the technique as needed.

Not only does this technique delay ejaculation, but it can also help you last longer between edges over time, therefore giving you more control over your orgasms.

Pelvic floor exercises

One 2014 study found that pelvic floor exercises can be a gamechanger for men dealing with premature ejaculation.

Here's how to do pelvic floor exercises.

  • Lie down on the floor or your bed
  • Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles, and hold for three seconds.
  • Relax for three seconds, then repeat, until you get to 10 reps.
  • Perform these exercises three times a day

Don't know which muscles to squeeze? Imagine you're holding in a fart, or trying to stop peeing, mid-stream. Bingo. Those are your pelvic floor muscles.

Although you may find it easier to locate and flex your pelvic floor muscles while lying down, to begin with, you can do these exercises anywhere. They can be done while sitting at your desk, standing in line for coffee, or walking to the bus. Even better, no one will even be able to tell!

Like any other exercise, remember to breathe through these, and focus on isolating your pelvic floor without also clenching your buttocks, thighs or abs.

If you've tried some of these before and haven't seen much improvement, don't worry!

At Pilot, we offer medical treatment for premature ejaculation, without the stress and fuss of having to go into the doctor's office and chemist.

A lot of men are hesitant to seek treatment for their PE because they find it embarrassing or confronting to have to talk about these issues face-to-face, which is why we do everything online.

Not only is it more convenient — you can fill out our assessment anytime, anywhere online — but there are no awkward moments to deal with when you're chatting to the doctor.

Our online assessment asks you everything we need to know about your lifestyle, your current medications, any previous surgeries you've had, that kind of thing. We also need to know a bit about how PE is affecting your life.

Once you've submitted it, one of our local GPs will review it and assess whether you're a suitable candidate for our treatment plans. If you are, they'll come up with a plan especially for you, because there's no one size fits all approach to your health.

From there, our partner pharmacy will ship your plan directly to you, in discreet packaging. We also offer ongoing support with your doctor and the Pilot medical team, so if anything's not working for you, they can tweak your plan until it's right.

Get started today.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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