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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.
Trying to reverse masturbation death grip syndrome—a general plan
Here are several things to try. This will take a bit of discipline, but it can be fun. Remember, sex (and this includes masturbation) is supposed to be about fun, relaxation, and pleasure. There's no reason to stress out over it.
- Take a break and build up a burning desire for stimulation.
- Make time, then take your time.
- Utilize and experiment with a variety of methods to masturbate or reach orgasm.
- Focus on subtle sensations. Be gentle.
- Go for quality over frequency until you regain sensitivity.
Sensitivity Renewal—1 month
Week 1: Take a break from stimulation for 1 week. Cease and desist.
Keep your hands (and anyone else's) off your penis for one entire week. No sex. No masturbation. When you get erections, just endure them and appreciate them for what they are. Allow the tension and desire to build, and appreciate the pleasure of the erections themselves. Towards the end of the week, you should be going mad with desire to do something about it.
Also, during this focus on renewal, you might want to examine aspects of your lifestyle that contribute or detract from your overall wellness and sexual health. Believe it or not, a healthy diet, moderate exercise, adequate sleep, and good stress management can all help to improve your sex life.
Week 2: You may masturbate once this week.
Wait for it...it doesn't matter what day of the week, but try to wait for an erection that happens on its own rather than causing an erection by using your hand. Sensations will likely be stronger if your body AND your mind are both naturally "in the mood" and your brain is causing the erection. In other words, it shouldn't be "I command myself to masturbate now", but rather "my body commands me to masturbate now".
Make time for it. The days of rushing through masturbation are over. Speed and quick release are no longer the point of masturbating—not if you want to break the patterns that result in "death grip". Make masturbating a priority and put other things off in order to have time to focus, relax, and enjoy.
Do not "jerk off". Take your time, use a personal lubricant, use a loose grip, and be gentle. Remember, you are retraining yourself to be more responsive to gentle stimulation such as what you would feel during sex. In fact, you may want to consider getting something that makes masturbation feel more like sex, such as a Fleshlight.
Lube is mandatory! No more dry fist. Personal lubricants are a must. Vaginas are lubricated—gentle lubricated friction is the sensation you need to become responsive to. KY Ultragel, and Astroglide are both quality brands that are available at most mainstream retailers, including Target, Walgreens, CVS, Wal-Mart, and even most grocery stores. Don't be embarrassed to grab a bottle when you make a cereal run to the grocery. Everybody masturbates—this is no secret. If you're seriously that embarrassed about it, order some online, but hands off your penis until you get some lube. End of conversation.
Let's talk technique. You're going to want to do two things:
- Masturbate in a variety of ways.
- Masturbate in ways that feel a more like sex.
Variety is the spice of life, and this is certainly true for sex and masturbation. Switch it up a little now and then to keep yourself from getting dependent on one single thing.
Most of the time though, it will be better to focus on methods that feel more like the sensations of sex. (This is why a Fleshlight might be a good idea.) Even if you haven't experienced sexual intercourse, it's still important to still focus on methods that provide a similar type of stimulation. A vagina is soft, silky, slippery, and warm. It engulfs the penis and makes contact with most of the surface of the penis. It's impossible to get exactly the same feeling with your hand, but by using a personal lubricant, using a full fist with a looser grip (maybe even two hands for complete contact), and taking your time, you can at least add some qualities of sex to your session. Use plenty of lube and glide your hand somewhat loosely over your penis, letting lubrication and your hand provide the friction that stimulates your penis—don't move the tissue of the penis itself they way you do when you "jerk off"—just glide over it. Your grip should be only about as firm as you would use to hold the hand of someone you like while on a walk in the park. Also, keep the speed of your stroking slow or moderate.
Try masturbating with a condom. Try incorporating a condom into the approach above. The use of a condom can help limit the amount of sensation you feel from your hand, which can help reduce your tolerance to stimulation over time and boost your perceived sensitivity. This is especially helpful if you are having sex with a condom on and are having difficulty reaching an orgasm. You can begin to associate having a condom on with having orgasms. Plus, a condom makes for easier cleanup afterwards. Just be sure to put some lubricant inside the condom before putting it on. As with the lube, don't be embarrassed to grab them at any store. But again, if you feel more comfortable, order some online.
Weeks 3-4: Masturbate only twice each week, and use your new techniques.
As with the previous weeks, the rules are:
- Masturbate only when an erection happens on its own. Do not stroke yourself to an erection and then masturbate.
- Do it only when you have enough time to take however long you need.
- Use lube. (Consider trying condoms.)
- Use techniques that are more similar to sex, ie., gentle, lubricated, friction at a moderate speed.
If things are getting better, you can go back to masturbating more frequently, but some of the things you learned this past month need to be applied from now on. Those principles are:
- Be gentle.
- Take your time.
- Try to let erections happen naturally.
- Use lubricant.
- Try different methods periodically and focus on methods that simulate sex.
If you are still having some trouble, try repeating the steps for the month, but try to go two weeks without and then masturbate gently only once per week for the following two weeks of the month.
What if I'm still not reaching an orgasm during sex?
Share with your partner what is going on. You may be experiencing some performance anxiety based on previous failures. Making your partner aware of what you are experiencing may help alleviate that anxiety. You may also want to try masturbating (gently, using your new techniques) right up until the point of an orgasm, and then switch to sex in order to finish and experience your orgasm inside your partner. This can be a confidence boost that reminds you of what the experience feels like.
Other advice for getting over death grip:
- Mayo clinic on Delayed Ejaculation
- Savage Lovecast episodes tagged with "death grip"
- Savage Love advice column about death grip (original)
- Vice.com: 'Death Grip Syndrome': Internet Myth or Penis Ruiner?
- A super-long thread about it on Reddit
If you continue to have problems, go see your doctor. There may be other lifestyle or health issues at play that need to be checked out.
Keeping your partner happy
There is no reason (or excuse) for "death grip" to cause you to leave your partner frustrated. You can still be an amazing lover while you work on improving your performance or while you seek medical help. Always make sure your partner gets an orgasm if she (or he) wants one. If you can't make it happen through regular sexual intercourse, fingers, tongue, and toys are all wonderful alternatives (and sometimes even preferred) when applied by a loving partner. Consider some vibrator options for her, or a Fleshjack if your partner is male.
"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.
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A Fleshlight is not required or guaranteed to eradicate the 'death grip', but it can be a nice way to work on the problem and it can help in two ways. First, the case prevents you from squeezing too hard. Second, it feels more like intercourse than your hand and therefore helps you become accustomed to that type of stimulation exclusively instead of being dependent on your hand.
Learn more about the Fleshlight ▶