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This is a resource of ideas for guys concerned about a condition, or perceived condition, commonly referred to as "masturbation death grip", "death grip syndrome", or just in slang as "death grip". These pages do not address other uses of "death grip", such as pilot death grip.
What is masturbation death grip syndrome?
Difficulty feeling enough sensation during sexual intercourse to ahcieve an orgasm due to a dependency on an aggressive masturbation technique—usually too tight a grip.
Masturbation and sex. Both feel wonderful and you've been doing it as often as you can since you discovered it. But over time, the sensations have become weaker and it has become increasingly difficult to reach an orgasm, especially during sexual intercourse. Could it be that you've just gripped your penis so hard while masturbating all of these years that you've beaten the sensitivity out of it? You may very well be experiencing what is commonly called "death grip", alright. In the sexual therapy world, it is also known as "delayed ejaculation" or "retarded ejaculation" (what an awful term). Although it is a type of sexual dysfunction, you most likely haven't really beaten the sensitivity out of your penis. All of the nerve endings you've always had down there for enjoying touch and physical sexual sensations are all still there and alive, but your brain has become conditioned to your limited and direct method of stimulation over the years and it isn't responding as intensely to the pleasure signals coming from your penis. This can be a frustrating situation, especially during sexual intercourse.
What masturbation death grip syndrome is not…
The good news is that you aren't really damaged, and death grip isn't really a medical condition. It's not a disease, it's not something you come down with, and it's not something that is irreversible. In fact, getting back in touch with what feels good can be a really pleasant exercise. However, sexual dysfunction could indicate other medical conditions. If you are experiencing numbness in your extremities, or any other issues along with trouble climaxing during sex, you may be experiencing medical problems that should be checked out by a doctor. These articles are not written by medical professionals and do not constitute any sort of medical advice. If trouble climaxing persists, or you are experiencing other issues, go to your doctor.
How did you get masturbatory death grip syndrome?
There's a reason why we all call masturbation "jerking off". The term pretty much describes exactly how most guys masturbate throughout their entire lifetime, which is with a tight grip around the penis, combined with a vigorous up and down motion which moves the sensitive tissues of the penis back and forth in a fast rhythm. This is essentially tissue massage and it is an extremely fast and efficient way of bringing on an orgasm. (Which is why we naturally gravitate towards the method when we are young—we want to hit the orgasm quick so that we don't get caught.) If this is the only method of masturbation that a guy uses, he can become somewhat dependent on the method in order to reach an orgasm. Plus, over time, as a guy develops more of a tolerance to this type of stimulation, he may begin to apply even more pressure and more vigorous motion in order to achieve the same sensations that he enjoyed through a lighter touch previously. In some ways, this concept is similar to the way that people can build up a tolerance to alcohol or drugs—requiring greater and greater quantities in order to achieve the same intoxicating effect. (Not that the healthy pursuit of more pleasure during masturbation should be considered in the same category as alcohol and drug abuse—just illustrating a concept.)
The problem is that this method of stimulation is nothing at all like what is experienced during vaginal intercourse. Vaginas do not "jerk off" a penis. The stimulation felt during intercourse is friction-based and is much more subtle, gentle, and soft than what is felt when "jerking off". Becoming dependent on ever-increasing pressure and intensity can make it difficult to be sexual responsive to the stimulation felt inside a vagina.
Death grip is also about being reliant on a single method of masturbating to a climax, and requiring more and more pressure to feel the same sensations—so much so that it interferes with your ability to enjoy the subtle stimulation of intercourse and affects your overall sexual happiness. So, although whatever method you use to masturbate may not be the same as what is described above, if you are reliant on your single method, the method is intense, and you have become unhappy with your sexual responsiveness, you've arrived at the same point.
More about masturbation death grip
Dan Savage, the world's greatest sex advice columnist (in our opinion), was among the first, if not THE first, to use the term "death grip" to describe this issue. See his original column about it in 2003. In fact, the advice on this site is a collection of adaptations and modifications in step-by-step format of the basic ideas he proposed and continues to offer when people write in with this issue. Read his column regularly, check out his books, follow him on Facebook and Twitter. But the very best is his Savage Lovecast podcast. He's blunt, smart, and witty—you will be sexually wiser and endlessly entertained.
Also check out this great Vice article, 'Death Grip Syndrome': Internet Myth or Penis Ruiner?, featuring perspectives and commentary from real sexual health professionals.
"Death Grip Syndrome" is not a recognized medical condition and the ideas presented here are not meant to be and do not constitute medical advice. It is only based on personal experience and ancedote. Results may vary. Problems enjoying sexual pleasure may have many causes, including but not limited to other health conditions, antidepressant medications, stress, and lifestyle factors. Even slightly elevated blood pressure can have substantial effects on your sexual performance and health. Seek medical help from your doctor.
Terms: This site follows the same terms as the parent site, In Bed Magazine. For terms, please see In Bed Magazine Terms and Conditions. We make no claim to be medical or mental health professionals, nor licensed relationship counselors. Advice offered on this website represents opinions based on the authors' or contributing readers' personal experience, observation, or opinion and does not constitute medical/professional advice. You acknowledge that the content of this website does not constitute and is not represented as medical or professional mental health advice.
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Lifestyle and health factors can cause "death grip" symptoms also!
Especially if you are experiencing difficulty maintaining an erection in addition to trouble reaching an orgasm, be sure to consider any health, medication, stress, or relationship factors that may be affecting you. Even slightly elevated blood pressure can have substantial effects on your sexual performance, as can antidepressants.