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Avoiding a mid-life crisis 'down there'

Why does age slow him down? Can age cause shrinage? And is her man's British upbringing causing their too-polite exchanges in the bedroom? Sexploration answers your queries.

Why does age slow him down? And is her man's British upbringing causing their too-polite exchanges in the bedroom? Sexploration answers your queries. Got a question? E-mail us.

Q: I’m 44 years old and have noticed that I can ejaculate on day one only one time, then, on day two, I can’t ejaculate. There was a time only one or two years ago that I did not have this problem. Is this something I should be concerned about, or is this normal?

A: Let us sit down on our porch rockers, my middle-aged friend, and reminisce. Seems like yesterday when, James Bond-like, we could make love, break for a few sips of champagne and witty banter, and then dive once again under the sheets for more sweet ecstasy.

Alas, age reduces our Walther PPKs to single shot weapons.

Assuming you are not taking drugs like anti-depressants that are known to inhibit ejaculation, are not depressed, do not have diabetes or other health issues, and have a good relationship, you are experiencing nothing more than age. For example, it’s probable that you are not completely unable to ejaculate on that second day, you just require much more stimulation than you did on the first.

Testosterone may be one cause. As we age, our level of testosterone decreases. An Italian study of 2,437 men published last year in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that low testosterone was associated with delayed ejaculation. The story can be more complicated than just low testosterone, of course. In the study, men with a higher body mass index and relationship problems also had delayed ejaculation, so stay in shape and get along with your lover.

The good news is that the inability to rely on sheer firepower can actually make men better lovers than we were at 20 because we’re forced to expand our repertoire.

Q: Is it natural for a man, as he ages, for his penis to become smaller? Can anything be done to stop the shrinkage?

A: Like what, for example? Washing only in cold water?

Penis worry is just another indignity you can chalk up to aging, like asking why weird, wiry black hairs are starting to pop out of your ears and why you can’t drink anything after 7 p.m. and without having to rise at 2 a.m. to pee.

But whether or not it actually shrinks is open to debate. You could try taking a tape measure to your gym’s locker room and measuring penises young and old, but German researchers have saved you from being banned for life by doing the work for you. They assessed 111 men divided into two groups, those 18 and 19 and those 40 to 68.

You’ll be happy to know that mean flaccid length was actually longer in the older men. Mean erect length was slightly longer in the young men, but barely. Erect width slightly favored the kids.

I felt pretty good about this, but then I asked Dr. Irwin Goldstein, a urologist and editor of the Journal of Sexual Medicine. “I believe that elasticity of the tunica [albuginea] (and thus penile size) decreases with age,” he said.

The tunica is part of the erectile gear of the penis. Studies have shown that the concentration of its elastic fibers decreases with age. This is apart from conditions like Peyronie’s disease that can force the penis to contract.

While you can’t stop aging, what would you do if you thought your hamstring was stiffening? You’d stretch and exercise, right? Well, penises, like every other part of our bodies, work better if you keep them working.

Q: I am a 40-year-old woman who is currently dating a gentleman (age 46) from Great Britain. I am an American. So far, it has been lovely. He does, however, have some cultural differences from your average Joe American. He says the man must always initiate sexual relations. I am a very warm and sensual woman, comfortable with my body, and it is a minor irritation that I cannot be the one who initiates sex. Is this a Brit thing, or is it in his head, or a result of upbringing?

A: The notion of this “being a Brit” thing didn’t sound right to me. After all, Britain produces much juicier scandals involving government officials and sexually aggressive women than we seem to manage here.

So I asked psychologist, sex researcher, and well-known British “agony aunt” (that’s advice columnist to you Yanks) Petra Boynton, Ph.D, who said that while it has been traditional “for UK men to make the first move, most British men don’t mind if a woman approaches them. In fact, most appreciate a woman who initiates sex as it suggests she’s confident and interested in them — two big turn-ons.”

Boynton suggests that if your man hasn’t had sex for some time he may have concerns other than male prerogative, like poor body image, performance fears, or low libido.

She suggests taking the initiative, but gently. “You can explain you find him attractive and would like to be intimate, but ask him what he feels comfortable with. Explain you’re happy to take it at his pace.” Ultimately, though, you have needs, too, so you’ll have to gauge how long you are willing to wait and whether, if you’re looking for a long-term deal, this is really the guy for you.

Brian Alexander is the author of the book now in paperback.