Posted in Dating / Relationships, Sex & Intimacy

Men and Mental Health: More Problems “Downstairs”

A follow up to this post.

I wrote this several months ago, junked it, wrote it again, put it off, junked the second one and then wrote this third one. I’ve never known whether I have really wanted to post it because it discusses intimate details that I am generally not comfortable talking about. But I guess as it concerns anxieties and I doubt I am the only one who has had this problem, here it is.

Condoms

Condoms, rubbers, johnnies, whatever you call them they are men’s best friend – the most efficient contraceptive protecting against unwanted pregnancy and STDs. Not perfect by any means, but a 98% efficiency is good enough for me ūüôā Yet some men grumble at their use and would rather their partners went on the pill.¬†Some say they can’t feel anything while wearing one and some complain about struggling to get them on. Naturally,¬†using them can lead to bedroom anxieties.

When my ex-wife and I first had sex, we struggled with them. I found I could not get them on properly, that they were very uncomfortable and¬†when I did eventually get them on, I had lost my “excitement”. It made me feel like an idiot – what a pillock for¬†not being able to do something as simple as putting on a condom?! Hadn’t we all seen those banana videos? Of course we had, it shouldn’t be a struggle to unroll a piece of thin rubber down a banana. I admit I often became withdrawn those first few times and it took trying two or three different brands for us to realise that, actually, the problem wasn’t with my inability to put them on, but that they were not a good¬†fit.

I need a bigger condom. When¬†Mirror Image and I first tried to have sex (the time we didn’t due to nerves and pressure), she got one¬†out the drawer and I told her I couldn’t use them. She admitted later that she was in two minds, partly suspicion based on the stereotype that some men would use any excuse to get out of using them, and partly wondering whether I was one of the minority who were genuinely allergic to latex. She was happier when I produced my own and after the first time she¬†delicately asked what had been¬†wrong with hers on that previous occasion; I told her about my previous struggles and how I then started using larger condoms and all was fine. She said she suspected that was the case as I had “stretched her a bit”.

Most men may have punched the air in delight at needing and being told by multiple partners that¬†they¬†need a larger condom, but it brings anxieties of its own, especially if you do not¬†know¬†at the start of your sex life that a regular size won’t fit you and¬†nobody has ever said “that looks a bit tight on you, I think you need a bigger one.” My ex-wife and I were both virgins so neither had the experience to realise that, though she did comment that the first time I put one on it looked very uncomfortable.

Is It Coming Off?

Probably biggest distraction because there is sometimes a slight loss of feeling when wearing one. Nevertheless I can definitely feel¬†what is going on. Sometimes I¬†worry whether it is coming off when you start to lose your erection, and I guess most men worry about this too. It hasn’t yet – thankfully – and usually I worry most when I think I am losing my erection (but am not necessarily).

Breakages

I think we worry too much about this, apparently occurrences are very low and usually tied to incorrect application in the first place. Most interestingly, other studies show that prostitutes report the lowest breakage and slippage rates and this appears to back up the problem being about experience or lack thereof.

Maintaining an Erection

We’ve all been there from time to time. Sometimes we can’t get an erection for one reason or another, but it is quite another frustration when¬†the rocket stalls on the launchpad – i.e. you get an erection but it lasts about as long as it takes to¬†open the condom packet. This is possibly one reason why some men don’t like using them but hide behind a wall of excuses.

Tip: get your partner to help you put it on, that’s¬†kind of sexy in itself.

Size Issues

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My ex-wife phoned me¬†a few weeks ago, there was something she needed to get off her chest. She said that she always suspected that the entrance to her vagina was too small and¬†that her being undersized and me being slightly wider than normal, contributed¬†– in part – to her lack of interest in sex. The majority problem as I have discussed before, is and was that I am too “vanilla” for her. She¬†has been exploring that aspect of her sexuality for about a year now. Though I struggled to get a condom on because they were too small, we struggled¬†with penetration because of the size differential. She is having regular sex with her new boyfriend and finds sex with him uncomfortable but insists it is enjoyable.

When¬†Mirror Image and I are together now, as much as I enjoy our sex life, I do worry¬†about how much pain I¬†cause her when entering her.¬†She often says “ouch” or¬†winces slightly and¬†if I stop she tells me to carry on… continuing to reiterate that its not my fault and that “we’ll get used to it” and¬†“once you’re in it stops being painful and feels very nice”.

We talk about it from time to time, I ask if there is anything else I can do and she can clearly see I worry about whether there is anything I can do to stop¬†causing that mild pain – it can be hard to relax when the question “Am I hurting her?” lurks at the back of the mind. I have tried going slowly of course, and we are certain that¬†she is fully ready; we’ve tried using more lube (but she gets worked up quite easily anyway and lubrication is not the problem) but still it happens.

Men often ask “does size matter” but that is the wrong question, the question is whether you are a match size-wise.

Further info
Condoms and performance anxiety

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Author:

I go by the name of Frank Speaking. My blog "In the Mind of Men" (former name Chin Up, Chest High) started out as a chronicle of my mental health recovery. Now it is a forum where I discuss issues related to male mental health.

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