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"We can laugh about nuns telling us their sexual horror stories but it is more important to know what horror stories we tell ourselves. What “old tapes” play over and over again as we consider our sexual identities?"

Orgasms and Ejaculations
by Jack Rinella

First off, I want to admit that I’m no expert on the biological aspects of sexual activity, especially when it comes to the female side of the equation. I can only hope that what I write here has some relevance to the readers who don’t share my gender. Over the years I’ve asked women to guest write a column, but I’ve never had any takers.

The historical research I’m doing brings me into contact with a great number of topics, sources and references. This week, for instance, I’m reading Dr. Alfred Kinsey’s biography by Wardell B. Pomeroy, one of his associates: “One must remember that our Judaeo-Christian culture was, and is, as inhibited and restrained about sex as any known culture in the world,” writes Pomeroy.

It was Kinsey’s unabashed approach to research, much of which he conducted in Chicago, that lead him to findings that challenged, and eventually influenced, the sexual mores of America.

In considering orgasms, it’s probably necessary to debunk the mythologies by which each of us lives. I remember, for instance, that Brett, two years my senior when I was in high school, once told me that my body held only so much sperm and that I needed to conserve my ejaculations for when I was married. I’m sure that information falls into the same category as “Masturbation causes blindness.”

We can laugh about nuns telling us their sexual horror stories but it is more important to know what horror stories we tell ourselves. What “old tapes” play over and over again as we consider our sexual identities?

Not everyone, of course, suffers from sexual dissatisfaction. Chances are that most of us are rather well adjusted, falling into that amorphous category of “normal.” And, yes, I believe that homosexuality is normal.

On the other hand, I’m enough of a pessimist, (or is it realist?) to know that what is considered normal is probably not all that satisfactory. I don’t know from whence the figures come, but rumors that the average married man has sex only 6 or seven times a month or that women seldom have orgasms says to me that things could be better.
Now I’m projecting. Since reaching adulthood, I have never found myself having less than five orgasms a week, either self-induced or with a partner. By the way, the last time I looked there wasn’t any hair growing on my palms.

What I have found is lots of people think my sex life is special. Thanks to Michael, Lynn, Patrick, et. al., it certainly is. I think the fact that my sex life is remarkable is what’s most remarkable. It would be much better if an fulfilling, high-quality sex life were everyone’s situation.

Quality sexual activity takes planning, time, and effort. It is a holistic experience, relying on a wide range of factors to bring true fulfillment.

I’m not going to dwell on some of the more important aspects of attaining a great orgasm. Physical, social, and romantic considerations are of the utmost importance. You’re not going to have great sex without getting all your bases covered, so to speak. Please bear with me, then, even as I limit my discussion to the orgasm itself.

Somewhere we’ve come to associate great sexual activity with having an ejaculation. For some reason, the biological fact that the penis emits semen or the female’s genitalia oozes fluid has become very important. I know, for instance, that sometimes Michael doesn’t think I’ve had a good time unless I’ve let loose a stream of jism.

I’m serious when I say there have been times when the fact that I didn’t shoot caused difficulties, if only in the short term, in our relationship. More than one discussion has brought us to an understanding of each other’s needs and a recognition that neither our love nor our fun is contingent upon one sexual event.
Now don’t get me wrong. Anyone who has seen me shoot will tell you that I enjoy it immensely. What I’ve learned, though, is that there is more to exemplary sex than one biological event.

As a matter of fact, I often stop myself from ejaculating when the time and circumstances permit it. You see, I’ve been lucky enough to learn how to have multiple orgasms. Ah, there’s a concept worth exploring.

My medical dictionary (Mayo Clinic Family Health Book) defines orgasm as “Climax of sexual intercourse or stimulation of sexual organs. In the man, it occurs when semen is ejaculated, and in the woman when contractions of the vagina occur.”

That definition leaves me puzzled. What should I call orgasmic feelings that aren’t accompanied by a spurt of semen? You see, even the doctors “who wrote the book” don’t account for the possibility that sexual activity is more than what we normally expect.

Likewise, it may be “less” than we expect. A case in point is the play that engaged Michael and I on Thursday night. His e-mail to me the next day (we communicate with each other more than several times a day in several different ways) called it “great” and it was. What the message failed to note was that although we were rambunctious as could be and spent an exhausting, prolonged, and thoroughly fulfilling time having sex, I didn’t come.

By the time we stopped, though, I was fully sated and very content. Therein lies the secret of good sex: Expectations are significant determinants of a “good time.” Only when we align our feelings with reality can we hope to improve our sex life.

The first step, as usual, is to know yourself and your partner. You’ve read over and over again that knowing yourself is crucial. Learn why you act the way you do. Understand what makes you “tick”. Explore new methods of sexual play. Discuss your feelings with someone competent to help you understand them, accept them, and if necessary change them.

Do some research into ways to improve your techniques, both those that arouse your partner and those that arouse you. Learn where each of you have erogenous zones and learn what to do with them.

Most importantly make sex a time to relax, to play, to enjoy. Let go of the shoulds, oughts, and have-tos that plague each of us. Self-acceptance is especially important.
For instance, I used to get into trouble with Michael when I fell asleep before coming. The next day he’d be upset with me, filled with anxiety and guilt that he wasn’t good enough for me or that I was growing bored with him. I thought that was nonsense and told him so, but his feelings were still real and very important.

Only when we could fully discuss the issues and understand that ejaculations don’t measure love did the situation improve. We also found ways to accommodate each other as well. I refrained from sex during the twelve hours before I was to be with Michael, so as to increase my sexual drive. I cut down on the amount of alcohol I had at dinner, so I wouldn’t fall asleep on him. If perchance I didn’t come on a given night, I made it a point to come the next morning.

As a result, we both grew more comfortable about the “ejaculation problem”. Relaxing, as I said, is most important. More often than not, the main problem is anxiety. Get over that and you’ll not need advice from me.

Copyright 1997 by Jack Rinella. This material may not be copied in any manner. For permission to reproduce this essay, contact

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