Dear How to Do It,
My husband has a micropenis. He was very shy and apologetic when we first started getting intimate, but I told him it didn’t bother me and that I cared deeply for him, and that I just wanted us to both feel good together. When we have sex it mostly consists of oral or outercourse, but it’s by far the most satisfying sex I’ve ever had, which I tell him often. Now we’re talking about starting a family (I know, pandemic, but still), but we’ve been having trouble getting him to ejaculate inside me. This has put him into a shame spiral, and nothing I say or do seems to reassure him. We both want to get pregnant the old-fashioned way, but him seeing me collecting his semen to inseminate myself makes him feel so ashamed. So my question is twofold: How do I make him feel better about this, and also, do you have any good ideas for positions to help keep him inside during insertion?
—Good Thing, Small Package
You can’t will someone else’s shame away. What’s presented in your letter suggests that you’re doing all you can by being a supportive partner—that you’re having enjoyable sex with him, regardless of his size, is icing on the cake. He was dealt a less-than-ideal hand biologically—I don’t mean that there is something wrong with him, but the anxiety over other people’s reactions to his equipment is a considerable burden in itself. However, it seems that he hit jackpot when it came to finding a partner. Ideally, he’d focus on that. Is there a chance he’d talk to a counselor about this? Discussing the persistent shame he feels despite having a loving partner who he satisfies sexually might be useful.
I understand your desire to get pregnant “the old-fashioned way,” but if that’s not strictly possible, remaining invested starts to look like self-oppression by holding onto a culturally imposed idea of how things should be. You’re making a baby, not a concept, and there are workarounds for your situation, if you are practical enough to use them. I urge you to do so. Regarding your issue, I emailed my go-to urologist source, Charles Welliver, a doctor and the director of men’s health at Albany Medical College. In response, he reminds us, “For conception, semen does need to be deposited onto the cervix (at the end of the vagina).” But even so, conception may be complicated when the conceiving penis is a micropenis, similar to an issue that may arise with a condition called hypospadias, where the urethral opening is not necessarily at the tip of the penis. Welliver suggested intrauterine insemination, or IUI, as a possible solution. The process involves the semen being spun down into a “hyper concentrated pellet” and then inserted in the opening of the cervix. “While its more expensive cousin in vitro fertilization is frequently not covered by insurance, many insurers cover IUI, at least in New York state, and this would be an option for them,” Welliver told me.
If this does nothing to dislodge your fixation on “the old-fashioned way,” you might as well try all the positions. Doggy style and cowgirl are usually the go-to ones for penises that are smaller. Depending on your flexibility, you could also lie on your back, with your legs all the way back and your knees next to your chest. If these don’t work, try not to get frustrated. A lot of people conceive using methods that wouldn’t be considered “the old-fashioned way,” and they end up with children that they love no less than they would have otherwise.
Dear How to Do It,
This is a strange and pretty dark question, but I would love to know if you have any thoughts. I’m a woman in my early 20s, and I have a very visceral reaction to some specific situations. Basically, I’ve had older male acquaintances and colleagues make romantic and sexual overtures toward me, and not being interested, I tried to finesse myself out of the situations both firmly and nicely. It’s not that I don’t find some older men attractive—simply not these guys. The thing is, internally, I found myself both explosively angry at them and myself during these moments, even as I smiled. Most alarming to me were sudden, violent images of hurting myself. I have never self-harmed, nor do I think about doing so generally. I have also never acted on these sudden thoughts. Yet, in addition to feeling incredibly angry toward these men—I found myself fantasizing about screaming at them and telling them that they were pathetic—I had these sudden, unbidden images of hurting myself in order to escape a hypothetical sexual situation with them. Think melodramatic, Greek tragedy levels of escape.
I know that there is a bit of a creepy aspect to their behavior (being up to double my age), but I actually think of some of them as friends and generally good people. It is however important to mention that the romantic overtures have been repeated a few times by these men, and I’ve attempted to be clearer in my rejection. I don’t know if I have some repressed issues, but any insight would be greatly appreciated.
With your firm noes and fair assessments, it seems that you have a good handle on this situation. Rejected romantic overtures can cross the line to harassment upon repetition. I think your outward behavior is justified, but your internal response is extreme and could use some attention beyond my scope.
Those possible repressed issues you reference could be key here. I can’t diagnose you, nor can I remember for you, but from a purely armchair perspective, I wonder if your response to sexual attention from older men has anything to do with surviving abuse. While the link between self-harm and child sexual abuse has been overstated, according to one study, there is no doubt that some people self-harm as a way of coping with trauma. Could your urge to do so be rooted in some kind of trauma in your past? It’s worth investigating with a professional. In the meantime, the organization Self-injury Outreach & Support provides resources that you may find useful, including this guide to coping with urges to self-harm.
Dear How to Do It,
I’m a man in my mid-40s and I’ve never been intimate with anyone. I don’t want to make excuses. I know procrastination and a bit of fear played a factor. But I was a very late bloomer—I didn’t notice girls until the 10th grade. Add to the fact that kids in my area were acting 28 at 13, I didn’t stand a chance, so I put it off. My ignorance of relationships and how to start them only grew from then on, which fed my procrastination. Now I’m just used to being alone—there’s a freedom to it and plenty of space if needed. However, I can’t help but feel alienated, especially at family get-togethers. Watching cousins I helped babysit now have full-fledged families is jarring—I feel like I missed out on the most human experience. The conversations that they have, the experiences I missed—I can’t relate, and it gets overwhelming at times. My question is: Should I try? I can’t relate to most in my age bracket, let alone the younger generation, and I get the feeling being my age comes with the expectation of knowledge and experience that I lack.
—Comfy but Isolated
I don’t think you should try for the sake of fitting in. That would be letting other people dictate your life, and you seem way too self-assured and -possessed to hand over the keys, midlife. It’s natural to wonder what you might have missed when you hear other people talk about their lives, particularly the lives that adhere to what culture tells us is “normal” and “natural,” but I encourage you to think about what you’ve gained by taking a different route. You clearly weren’t sitting around waiting for a spouse to knock on your door, and you’ve learned to relish the freedom and space that your way of life has afforded to you. It’s OK to be different, and you know that, or else you would have conformed by now.
If you feel ready for a relationship, don’t hesitate to seek one out, but I think the best way to go about life is with simultaneous awareness of who you are and an openness for that identity to change, given a new opportunity. Could you be asexual? Maybe, and that’s OK too. I’ve already recommended it in this column, but I can’t recommend it enough: Read Angela Chen’s Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex. Even if you don’t relate to the asexual experiences of the author and her subjects, the book promotes the unending process of self-discovery and the great gratification that can come from identity specifically. It’s potentially useful to anyone, wherever they fall on whichever spectrum.
Dear How to Do It,
My husband and I are happily married. He is my best friend, biggest supporter, and has more faith and confidence in me than I could ever have for myself. Our sex life is also great. My husband was a “man whore” in his younger days before we met. He says since he has lived out every typical young man’s fantasies—it’s all about what I want now, plus a few of his nontypical fantasies (chastity, for example). A few weeks ago, we went to a “lifestyle club” that I found. After a second trip, we started talking about what I was wanting out of these new adventures. Our agreement looks like this: I can have sex, including intercourse, with men at the club—but at the club only. He wants a kitten and has chosen someone that we know but are not close with. The kitten wants me involved also. She refers to me as the queen bee. My husband is up for this being a throuple-type relationship with me being the top. I am up to this, but my anxiety, which I have suffered with for decades, is making me a nervous wreck. I get the best end of this agreement, yet I have no clue how to go about this. When it comes to other men, I fear I won’t be able to relax enough to enjoy it. When it comes to the kitten, I have never experienced any attraction to women. So between my curiosity and my anxiety, my mind is losing it. I want all of this so bad, but at the same time, I am afraid I will be nothing but awkward and unattractive. I have two weeks before we go back to the club, plus take our kitten with us for the weekend away. Any advice on how to deal?
—Curiosity Killed Me
Slower pussycat! Chill! Chill! You can take each thing—dick, or whatever else—as it comes. Allow yourself the moment to assess what you want, and try not to get too hung up on it ahead of time. Acute anxiety or a sense of emotional burden prior to this extracurricular sex could indicate that you actually aren’t as interested as you might think. Weeks and weeks of distress might not make the fleeting pleasure worth it, and that’s assuming that the sex will be good enough to even qualify as a trade-off.
It’s nice that your husband believes in you, but not if his faith and confidence in you are a way of pressuring you out of your comfort zone. “I really believe in your ability to overcome your doubts and anxiety for my sake” isn’t a sign of love but manipulation. I am not saying that’s absolutely what’s happening, but your wording (“He … has more faith and confidence in me than I could ever have for myself”) gave me pause. At any rate, it’s way too early to be deciding on whether Miss Kitten is going to be a permanent member of your colony—who knows whether you’ll want to have sex with her again, let alone fashion a throuple out of this association. There’s putting the cart before the horse, and then there’s buying a racetrack before you even see your horse’s gait. The reason why this stuff seems overwhelming is because of how far out your mind is going. Your objective is sport sex—it should be fun, or there’s no point. If the jitters are the main feature of this experience, it’s not worth it.
More How to Do It
After 26 years my wife kicked me out. She gave me many reasons, sex being one of them. Her biggest complaint: My penis is much too big. She used to tell me I should be a porn star, but she doesn’t seem so into it anymore.