Put the Squeeze on Premature Ejaculation
If you're ejaculating too quickly during sex, the fix could be as simple as giving your penis a little squeeze.
Formally developed half a century ago by famed sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the "squeeze technique"—also known as the "stop-and-squeeze" or "pause-and-squeeze technique"—can help some men overcome premature ejaculation (PE).
The goal of this behavioral therapy is to squeeze the penis until the urge to ejaculate subsides. When you're about to climax, stop thrusting and squeeze the penis between your forefinger and thumb just below the head, or glans. This sensitive, nerve-rich area is called the frenulum. Maintain the squeeze for about 10 seconds until the urge to ejaculate passes. Wait another 30 seconds, then resume having sex.
"You just repeat that until you get to the point where you feel like, 'OK, this is the length of time I want to be able to get to,'" explained Sara Sloan, a licensed marriage and family therapist (L.M.F.T.) at Austin Concierge Therapy in Austin, Texas.
A kind of therapy
"The pause-and-squeeze technique is really just another form of cognitive behavioral [therapy]," Sloan said. "You're retraining the body to go longer to reach whatever length of time you're hoping to do in order to gain more control."
Some men may require a firm squeeze for this method to work, according to San Francisco-based sex educator Reid Mihalko.
"You're never trying to hurt yourself," he said. "You're trying to change the sensation. You kind of have to explore it to see what works or what doesn't work."
Mihalko, who prefers to grab the base of his penis instead of the head when he practices the squeeze technique, said you can either completely withdraw your penis from your partner or leave the tip in when you squeeze. Some men prefer to have their partner do the squeezing.
"For some people, just squeezing lightly is enough to calm their nervous system back down and back away from ejaculation," Mihalko said. "For other people, it works better if they squeeze really hard and fast and just kind of hold it for a second."
Practicing the squeeze technique solo
The squeeze technique can be practiced during masturbation. Learning how to get really close to ejaculation and then backing off—a practice known as "edging"—may boost your chances of success when you use the squeeze method with a partner. After the urge to ejaculate passes, start masturbating again. Repeat this process several times.
When using the squeeze technique while masturbating or with a partner, Mihalko said it's important to pay close attention to how fast you are approaching ejaculation. Take note of your body's signals, such as increased heart rate, breathing patterns and muscle tension.
"All of these methods will work better if you pace how quickly you're approaching orgasm," he said.
Mihalko recommends thrusting into a masturbation sleeve, because using your hand to masturbate is very unlike having sex with someone.
"Masturbation sleeves generally have a hard outside and are self-contained, so practicing the squeeze method with them will provide a closer approximation of what the sensations will be like when you're having penetrative sex," he said.
Sloan agreed there is value in practicing the squeeze technique alone.
"If you're wanting to build up the pause-and-squeeze technique, you can practice this with yourself first, which I think is what I usually would recommend," she said. "You could certainly do it with your partner, as well."
More research is needed
While men have been using the squeeze technique for many years, scientific research on the subject is limited. A 2015 systematic review in the journal Sexual Medicine examined 10 trials for behavioral therapies, including the squeeze technique and the start-stop method, used in the management of premature ejaculation.
Some of the trials demonstrated improvements in intravaginal ejaculatory latency time (IELT), which is the duration to reach orgasm and ejaculate, and others reported minimal or no difference. The review authors concluded the squeeze technique shows a level of effectiveness, both in combination with medications and by itself.
The squeeze method is free and has no side effects, so it doesn't hurt to give it a try. Sex therapists generally recommend behavioral techniques before other treatments, such as oral medications and numbing sprays.
"I think [the squeeze technique] is pretty well vetted," Sloan said. "I would definitely start with this. Probably I would use psychotherapy along with it, just to sort of understand if there's anything underlying it."
Mihalko advises men suffering from premature ejaculation to try all the behavioral techniques at their disposal.
"Two out of three might work, but the first one you tried didn't," he said. "And if all three work, great, that's three options in your little tool kit. I would encourage curiosity and looking for lots of different options."