Do Men Fake Orgasms?
After 25 years of talking with men in my exam room with their pants down – literally and figuratively – I’ve learned a lot. Although we are barraged everywhere we go by sexual content and imagery, it is a mistake to believe that we know everything there is to know about sex. As author John Naisbitt has written, “We are drowning in information and starved for knowledge.” This applies nicely to the secret world of sex that I hear about daily.
In an effort to share my unique access to the “mind of man,” my new book Why Men Fake It: The Totally Unexpected Truth About Men and Sex allows the reader an extended glimpse behind the closed door of my exam room to learn the truth about men. Along the way, I debunk a number of myths about men and sex.
Here are 4 of them:
Myth #1: Men don’t fake orgasms. I was shocked when a 25-year-old patient named David (not his real name) told me he faked his orgasms. What interested me was not only how he faked it, but why would a man bother to do so. The reason David did so was because he had difficulty achieving orgasm with intercourse, and began faking it when he had the impression his girlfriend was feeling bad about herself sexually, as if the cause of his failure to climax was because she wasn’t sexy enough or was doing something wrong. One can debate whether or not faking it was good for the relationship, but I was impressed by David’s noble intention.
Surprisingly, the limited information on this topic reveals that faking it is not particularly rare in men. Some men just have difficulty reaching a climax, naturally or as a side effect of medications, notably the antidepressants called SSRI’s.
Myth #2: Men care only about their own sexual pleasure. Men get a bad rap when it comes to sex and relationships, in large part stemming from the standard narrative that they are sexually selfish and uncaring. This is untrue for the man in a relationship or the man who has feelings for his partner. In these cases what I’ve seen over and over again is how much a man’s sense of masculinity is derived from being a “sexual provider.”
Consider: A man has sex with a woman for 2 hours and performs 27 positions from the Kama Sutra, but at the end he senses that his partner is dissatisfied. He will likely feel deflated and disappointed in himself. Yet a man who only lasts 30 seconds, but his wife or girlfriend has a great orgasm during that time, will think to himself, “I’m da man!”
Myth #3: Men are always ready to have sex. As women have begun to accept their sexuality, it is no longer unusual for men or couples to come into my office challenged by the fact that the woman wants to have sex more frequently than the man. The old joke that all a man needs to be ready for sex is to feel a breeze go by may be true for the teenager, but no longer applies to most men once they have work responsibilities, children, or a few grey hairs.
Men perpetuate this myth themselves through their own sexual bravado. Men can still really enjoy sex even if they don’t want it more than once a day, as they did at 21 or even 31. However, it is worth noting that when sexual desire is significantly reduced, there may be a medical issue at play. Men who note decreased or absent sexual desire should check in with their doctor, as depression, low testosterone, stress, and side effects of some medications may be contributing to this.
Myth #4: ED in young men is always psychological. Early in my career, it was widely believed that erectile dysfunction (ED), or impotence as it was then called, was almost always psychological. This idea was popularized by the work of sex researchers Masters and Johnson, and I saw many men who were certain that their ED was caused by sleeping in the same bed as their mother until they were 4-years-old, or because they had enuresis (bedwetting) until age 7. Today we know that the vast majority of men with ED have a physical basis for the problem, which usually is due to a vascular issue – either not enough blood getting into the penis (arterial), or even more commonly, too much blood leaving the erect penis before it should (venous).
However, psychological causes do exist, and these are most frequently due to anxiety. Anxiety releases adrenaline, which in addition to causing sweating of the palms and a rapid heart rate, also tends to constrict the blood vessels in the penis that are needed to dilate to create a normal erection. Since young men tend to have clean, well-functioning blood vessels, it has been assumed that ED in a young man is always psychological. Not true. Although anxiety does account for many cases, I’ve treated teenagers with physical causes for their ED. If at any age a man notices that his erections have lost rigidity during times he would normally be aroused – during sex, with masturbation, upon awakening – then it is worthwhile speaking to one’s health care provider.
Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, MD, FACS, is an Associate Clinical Professor of Urology at Harvard Medical School and the founder of Men’s Health Boston, a treatment center for male sexual and reproductive disorders. He is the author of three previous books and his work has appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, The New Yorker and the WSJ among others. He researches, lectures internationally, and sees a limited number of patients via his new program, Personalized MensHealth. His latest book, WHY MEN FAKE IT, is available now wherever books are sold. You can find him on Twitter @DrMorgentaler.