Ask Debby Herbenick | Is it okay to fulfill your husband's fantasy?
Answers to your most penetrating sex questions.
Q I’ve been on the pill since I was 15; I’m now 28. Does the pill affect a woman’s ability to orgasm from sex?
A Hormonal contraception (the birth-control pill, patch, shot and ring) sometimes lowers a woman’s sexual desire or arousal, though most women don’t notice any difference. It’s quite unusual for women to feel that their ease of orgasm is impacted by birth control, though it may be possible (I swear it happened to me with a Method That Shall Remain Nameless Lest I Bias Readers). What’s more common is that it takes time for women to learn to orgasm. Many women spend their teens and twenties figuring out how to orgasm, or how to do so from different forms of stimulation. If you’d like some tips, check out Becoming Orgasmic (Fireside, $15) or my book, Because It Feels Good (Rodale, $21.99).
Q I am a married mother with a wonderful husband who can’t get his fantasies of me having sex with other men out of his mind. He wants to watch me have sex with another man. Period. I’ve always been extremely open-minded, and this is something I could arrange (with an ex-lover who I’m sure would be game)—though it’s not my fantasy at all. We just had a baby, and I think my husband has a hard time getting hot and horny while seeing me nurse a baby and be a loving mother—these two things just don’t go together in his mind. So if I go ahead with this (a birthday surprise?), what are the chances that it will damage our relationship? I’m sure it’ll be hot in the moment, but in the future am I going to have to spend hours convincing him yet again that he’s the one?
A You wise woman, you, pondering the what-ifs of fulfilling your husband’s fantasy. You two have just been through an enormous change: You had a baby together. You’re both likely adjusting to your new identities as Mom and Dad. For the sake of family harmony, I think you’re wise to proceed with caution down the threesome-ish route (especially with a former lover). If your husband later wonders what the heck he was thinking, things could get ugly. If you two decide to partake, I’d suggest talking about it beforehand. No birthday surprises! He may like the fantasy more than the reality and may freak if you surprise him with a naked ex and a bottle of lube. Then again, he may like it. But will you? Will you feel this enhances your relationship? If you want to try it, set clear boundaries and take baby steps. Perhaps you can make out with someone at a bar and see how that goes, or agree to have your ex over for a make-out session. Then you can all process it and see whether the three of you would be comfortable doing more. Check out Opening Up (Cleis Press, $17.95) for tips on adding another person to your relationship.
Q My girlfriend and I have a long-distance relationship. I’m finishing up my last year at college, and she lives two hours away. Since being away from her more and not having actual sex since March (we decided to wait until we’re married to have sex again because we had a pregnancy scare), I feel that our sex life isn’t as exciting as it should be. While we still have oral sex, we often argue about it. I want to do it more when we see each other on the weekends (because I’m built up and want to make up for lost time), while she sometimes never gets in the mood at all and acts annoyed when I want it. This worries me. Shouldn’t she feel more aroused after not seeing me for a long time?
A Maybe your girlfriend feels more like a Blow Job Machine than a girlfriend. Yes, I get that you’re all built up, but that doesn’t mean that as soon as she sees you, all she’s going to want to do is stick your penis down her throat. Maybe she wants to kiss, talk, cuddle, watch porn together, have you touch her breasts for hours, rent a romcom or work out together. Her idea of making up for lost time may be different than yours. Maybe she wonders why you don’t want to just hang out together. Some people get in the mood by spending time together doing other things and then, once they feel connected to their partner, they feel like getting naked. Try talking to her about what she does want and not just about what she doesn’t want, so you can have a better relationship, not just better sex. If you figure out how to feel closer, the sex is likely to follow.
Q I am 36 and my boyfriend is 47. Our sex life is the best I have ever had. We have sex almost every night, sometimes twice. However, recently things have changed. The problem started with him unable to ejaculate while inside me. He will stop and masturbate the last couple of minutes. It’s become worse recently because he has been softening a lot during sex. He still enjoys it and he orgasms like normal—it sometimes seems even more intense. But I have pretty strong muscles so if I get turned on it pushes him out and we have trouble getting it back in because it’s soft. I know it bothers him and I’m worried because I don’t want him to start thinking he needs to take stuff (like pills that may hurt him) or feel insecure about it. Is this normal for his age? He is pretty healthy and has a great body.
A There are many reasons men may have difficulties ejaculating or maintaining the hardness of their erections. It is certainly common for men in their forties—especially their late forties—to notice sexual changes. Some men start to notice less-firm erections. Other times they notice that they cannot get or maintain erections or ejaculate as frequently as they once did. For reasons we don’t understand, many men notice that their refractory period gets longer with age—this means that it can take longer between one ejaculation and a man’s ability to ejaculate again or even to get another really hard erection. Given how frequently you have sex, it may be that if you had sex less often—or if he ejaculated less often—then he could have, as an example, seven hard erections per week (since you have sex nearly every night) rather than 10–14 somewhat hard ones. You might try seeing what it’s like if you have sex once a day rather than twice. Or, if you do go for a second round, try stopping before either of you climaxes (e.g., agree to play around without release). While normal age-related changes are a possibility, so are health issues. Just because he looks healthy doesn’t mean he doesn’t have diabetes or a heart condition, of which erectile difficulties can be an early warning. So I’d suggest he check in with his doctor. Also check out The New Male Sexuality (Bantam, $17) for more information on men’s sex lives at all ages.