Millennials: Too much stress? Not enough sex?
Take a look at almost any millennial’s social media feed, and we look like the generation that has it all. But behind the picture-perfect Instagram lifestyles, something a bit strange is going on. Despite our progressive attitude to sexuality and gender, millennial men and women are having less sex and with fewer people than any generation since the post-war baby boomers[i].
The number of men under 30 that admit to being virgins has nearly tripled to 28%[ii] since 2008. It's twice as likely that we’re virgins when compared to Generation X[iii] at the same age, and around a third of us are in 'sexless’ relationships[iv].
These are worrying statistics—especially for us guys, as we hit our sexual peak around 30 years old. So what's going on? With our open attitudes, as well as biology, and youth on our side, what's holding us back?
This article takes a look at some of the possible reasons. In particular, it will discuss:
- Sex, stress, and depression
- Erectile dysfunction
- Premature ejaculation
- Screen culture, phones, relationships, and sex
- Phones and porn
- Male sex toys with phone-based controls
- Better sex, better mental & physical health—a positive cycle
- Solosexuals - The new millennial trend
Sex, stress, and depression
Why are so many of my male millennial friends stressed and depressed? We should all be having the time of our lives right now—and in many ways, we really are. But for some guys, the early 20s to late 30s is a very stressful time of life. There are student debts to pay off and mounting credit card bills. There's also intense pressure to pave a successful career path, buy a beautiful house, have fantastic sex, take super holidays, hang out with beautiful people, and have high achieving kids. The list goes on.
That might sound just like my dad's worries at my age. But like no generation before us, our lives are lived under a social media microscope. The pressure to succeed, and to show everyone that you are successful, is massive and unrelenting. And if you don’t achieve—or at least don’t look you are—then it's a very depressing world to inhabit.
Some guys get stressed about sex. “Do I look good naked?”; “Is my dick smaller than average?”; “Am I really satisfying my partner?” We’ve all asked these questions in a moment of self-doubt. But a lot of millennial men dwell on these thoughts—and that can sometimes lead to performance anxiety[v] and erectile dysfunction (ED). Often sex-related worries are symptoms of anxiety in other areas of our lives. At that point, those feelings about a lack of control and self-worth manifest themselves in the bedroom.
Dealing with erectile dysfunction
Stress and depression take their toll on our sex lives. Stress, in particular, pushes up cortisol levels, which, in turn, interferes with our sex hormones. Unfortunately, as guys, when our libido dips, our dicks don’t lie—even if we want to. If you're frequently stressed out, or you're regularly depressed, you can end up with erectile dysfunction (ED) no matter what age you are.
It’s a myth that ED only happens to older guys—actually, a quarter of guys under the age of 40 have some form of ED[vi]. Having ED in your late 20s or early 30s may be challenging to cope with and to speak about, even with partners. The critical thing to know, however, is that you’re not alone. It's also important to remember that ED is treatable, it’s not always permanent, and it doesn't mean the end of the road for your sex life.
Taking antidepressants to remove the symptoms of stress and depression can help you get your sex drive back. But higher doses may actually cause ED where the condition didn’t exist before[vii]. If you’ve any worries about this issue, in particular, it’s important to talk to a doctor or counselor. Together you can work out the best options to manage your depression or anxiety without impacting your sex life.
There are plenty of tips and tricks that can help with ED—as well as formal prescription meds such as Viagra or Cialis. Viagra, in particular, can treat the symptoms of ED, even if you’re taking antidepressants[viii]. If you want to avoid meds or pills, then consider sex lubes as a starting point. They’re easy to buy and easy to bring to bed with your partner—and they may just give you the extra boost of stimulation needed to get you hard. If you haven’t tried one before, they’re an excellent place to start. If you’re worried about how your dick will respond to lube, try it alone first and get confident and comfortable with the results.
Cock rings are worth some serious thought too. When you get turned on, blood flows to your dick and fills up the empty spaces between the fibers and tissues—making you hard and ready for action. Cock rings work by restricting the flow of blood from your dick—thereby keeping it hard. Simply attach the ring once you start to get aroused, and it will work its magic for you. Try one with some lube or penis enhancing cream. Enhancing cream will get more blood flowing to your dick and boost the effects of your cock ring. Cock rings and enhancing cream both have the added bonus of giving you a bigger, wider cock—and that can't be a bad thing, right?
Some guys with ED also give penis pumps a try. Penis pumps work by creating a vacuum around your dick and drawing blood in. Combining a penis pump with a cock ring, some lube, and even some enhancing cream gives you a multi-pronged approach and an even better chance of getting a harder, bigger, and more satisfying cock.
If you’re feeling adventurous, prostate massagers can provide an extra level of stimulation to get you hard and keep you stiff. Yes, I know—there’s no getting around it—you have to put most of the massagers a little way inside your butt for the best results. And I know even some of us millennial guys will struggle with this idea. But if you’re up for it, I guarantee it will give you some of the most intense orgasms you’ve ever had.
Tackling premature ejaculation
Premature ejaculation (PE) is the most common sexual performance issue faced by guys under 40[ix]. Around one in eight men think it’s the most significant issue they’ve faced when having sex[x]. Like ED, PE is often caused by anxiety, nervousness, and depression. But, if you’ve not had a lot of sex, your dick might just be hypersensitive—and, in that situation, it's way too easy to lose control over when to shoot your load.
You can take meds to sort out PE. Doctors have recently started prescribing an antidepressant called Dapoxetine (Priligy)[xi], for example. But there are plenty of options that you can try that don't involve pills. Believe it or not, jerking off could be an answer—lots of guys refer to it as masturbation with purpose.
If you're planning on having sex with your partner in the evening, jerking off and blowing your load earlier in the day means it should take longer for you to cum second time around. This should ultimately make for a more prolonged and more intense session for you both. Don't go mad on this approach as you still want to have plenty of jizz for the main event!
Jerking off can also help you understand how your body responds to sexual stimulation. Next time you jerk off, don’t just blow your load as fast as you can, take some time to consciously learn the different levels of pleasure and arousal you go through before you cum. That way, you can start to understand when to lift your foot off the gas and apply some breaks.
This stop/start method is actually called edging, and its very effective at helping with PE. A word of warning, however: Don’t just start edging with your partner without explaining what you're doing or why you're doing it. It can make for a very unsatisfying sexual encounter if you’re not both on board with the idea.
Your hand will do the job just fine for a strategic jerk-off or to practice edging. But using penis strokers, sleeves, masturbators, and pocket pussies will intensify the feeling. This will give you a more realistic experience and ultimately give you a better chance of holding back when you’re having full-on sex.
A lot of guys use these toys with their partners, too. If you have ED that's linked particularly to penetration, then this could be an excellent way to get in the mood or shift the focus from full-on sex. One of the more discreet designs might work particularly well in this scenario.
When you’re with your partner, it’s also worth considering a delay cream or numbing spray. Both work by temporarily numbing the nerve endings in your dick and lessening the sensation during sex—giving you back some control, making it easier to hold out for a more intense orgasm, and bringing even greater pleasure to your partner.
Screen culture, phones, relationships, and sex
We’re more attached and addicted to our phones, tablets, and gaming consoles than any generation before us. For all the positives that connectivity brings to our lives, there are some super big negatives. The largest of those is the impact that excessive screen time has on the quality of our real-world relationships.
At the most basic level, using your phone or tablet before bed messes with your sleep cycle—and sleep deprivation is known to cause a drop in testosterone levels and diminish your sex drive. Switching on the blue light filter will help with that problem. But it won't tackle the most significant issue. If you are spending a lot of time looking at your phone, then you’re probably not giving your partner the attention they deserve.
Using your phone for extended periods instead of engaging with in the same room has become such a common problem that it actually has a name. It’s called phubbing (a combination of 'phone’ and ‘snubbing’[xii]). It even has an official dictionary definition, “the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your phone instead of paying attention.” It’s not just time spent on social media, but streaming video, shopping, playing games, messaging and checking emails.
While you might think that phones—and some of the dating apps—actually open up more opportunities for sex and relationships, the opposite is actually true. Extended screen time puts up barriers to intimacy, rather than bringing them down. You lose the build-up to sex—the chat, the flirtation, the anticipation. All of the subtle communication and interactions that show the other person you're interested in them, and you care about their life, vanishes.
Phones and porn
Then there’s porn. We have easy, limitless access to porn on our phones and, as a result, have been exposed to more porn than any other generation before us. No surprise that male millennials have the highest moral acceptance of porn compared with other generations[xiii].
Porn adds extra spice when you’re jerking off, and can teach new techniques. It can even be part of foreplay for some couples. But it can also set unrealistic expectations. That's not surprising—if you stop and think for a moment—as most porn isn't realistic. Producers find guys with the biggest possible dicks. Then they use tricks to make porn stars look like they can pump out literally buckets of jizz. All this can feed sexual insecurities and, in extreme cases, bring on performance anxiety and ED.
Given all of this, I think it's fair to say your phone is not your friend when it comes to having good, regular, and fulfilling sex. Try putting it away for an evening or not taking it to the bedroom. I think you’ll see that small change will have a hugely positive impact on your relationship and love life. But, if you must take your phone to bed with you, why not make a virtue out of it. Hook it up to an increasing number of male sex toys that offer phone-based remote control—everything from cock rings to prostate massagers!
Better sex, better mental & physical health—a positive cycle
Sex (and that includes jerking off) is a supremely enjoyable way to deal with stress. Research suggests if you have sex less than once a week, your happiness levels tend to decline[xiv].
Sex isn’t a cure for stress. But it does release endorphins—and endorphins make you happier, more content, and even more compassionate. Sex also lowers cortisol levels, the hormone that’s pretty much responsible for all the negative impacts of stress on your body and mind. And if that weren’t enough time they have sex. So, with the right attitude—and perhaps a few toys and aides thrown in to spice things up—sex can pretty quickly start to form a positive cycle of physical and mental health improvements.
Solosexuals - the new millennial trend
Millennials have always played with their own rules. Since the beginning, we have always been testing our limits and breaking out of the norm. Sex is no different. A new and fast-growing subculture of millennials is emerging as what is now called a Solosexual. This group of individuals does not identify as straight or gay, rather they prefer self-pleasure to partner play. That's right, Solosexuals choose masturbation and self-pleasure over sex and other pleasure with partners. As always, young people will do what they want and nobody can tell them otherwise.