The start and stop method is one of several classic self-help techniques you can use to overcome premature ejaculation.
It can be particularly helpful if you’re single and want to work on your sexual stamina before you next meet someone. But if you’re in a relationship now, it’s also a great technique to work on together.
How does it work?
The method is all about learning where your point of no return is – the point shortly before you ejaculate.
Then when you have sex, you stop yourself when you spot the signs that you’re getting close to that point of no return.
As you’ll see in the steps below, you can repeatedly get close to the point, then stop and rest for a while before continuing. Eventually you should find that it takes you longer to reach that point.
The second goal is to develop a better understanding of your arousal levels. That way you can limit how much you do the things that make you come quicker, and do things which are pleasurable, but don’t make you rush to the finish line.
And if you find yourself getting too aroused, you know you need to do something about it. That’s when you can call upon other techniques like kegels or changing to one of the sex positions that help you last longer.
Part 1: solo practice
It’s perhaps better to practice on your own initially because you can take the time to really focus on how your body reacts when stimulated.
1. Take a minute or two to relax, then masturbate normally using just your hand. Try not to go to fast or hard though – keep it slow and steady.
2. When you feel that you’re getting close to climax, stop masturbating. Try not to stop too early, but don’t push it right to the last second either.
3. Rest for about 30 seconds before continuing. You may need to rest for a minute if you got too close to the point of no return. While resting try to relax your body, and take some slow and deep breaths.
4. Continue to masturbate as before. You should ideally repeat this several times before eventually allowing yourself to come naturally. It’s important that you still get to enjoy the sensation of orgasm.
5. Eventually, you should notice that the period of time between getting an erection and hitting the point of no return gets longer. It can take a week or two to see improvements, so don’t give up too soon.
6. After you feel that you’re making some small improvements, you can add lubricant to make it more intense. You may find at first that your time drops back down – don’t worry if it does. You should gradually improve again.
If you feel like climaxing as soon as you start again
When doing the start and stop method, you may find you feel like ejaculating as soon as you start again after a rest. This may be for one of two reasons:
- You’re not resting for long enough. 30 seconds is ideal, but you may need a minute for your arousal to drop.
- You may be pushing yourself too close to the point of no return. In future, learn to stop a little earlier until you can rest for 30 seconds before continuing.
Practicing with a sex toy
If you’re single or practicing alone, you can add a sex toy/male masturbator as an extra challenge. It’s a great way to close the gap between the stimulation of masturbation and sex.
This will help ensure your hard work doesn’t fall apart when it comes to the real thing. If you don’t have one already, you might find it helpful to check out my review of the aptly named fleshlight stamina training unit.
How long you should aim to last for
If you usually finish in a couple of minutes, aiming for 20 minutes is a tough goal. Especially if that means spending ages masturbating because you have to stop and rest every 30 seconds.
So breaking it down into smaller steps is more likely to motivate you to keep at it.
If you usually only last a minute or two, set yourself the goal of 5 minutes before ejaculation for the first few sessions. From there you can raise the goal to 10 minutes. And from 10 minutes to 20 minutes.
When you can hit each goal with only 2 or 3 rests, you’re doing well and can move to the next goal.
And on the topic of 20 minutes – that’s not a strict target to aim for. I personally think 20 minutes is a good time to aim for based on how long surveys suggest women take on average to reach orgasm during sex.
But for some people, 20 minutes is way more than necessary. So feel free to set your own goals.
Having to stop too many times?
If you find you need to stop too many times to reach your time goal, either alone or with a partner, you can change the way you approach it. Instead of stopping 10 times in 10 minutes, only do the process 5 times.
Even if that only means a few minutes in total, eventually it will get better. This can prevent both boredom and frustration with the technique.
Part 2: the start and stop method with a partner
Practicing with your partner presents a more realistic challenge. It also lets them know you’re working on the issue and they might like to feel involved.
There are basically 2 approaches to try:
- Go straight into trying it during sex.
- Practice with manual and oral sex, mixed in with normal sex on some days.
It’s up to you how you want to do it, but for those who want to start slowly, here are some ideas:
1. If you’re extremely sensitive, start with just hugging and kissing for a few minutes. Then ask your partner to caress your body slowly and sensually.
2. Ask your partner to masturbate you using just their hand. If that makes you ejaculate quickly, then this is the level you need to practice at for a few sessions.
In the same way as you can do this alone, ask them to stop before you reach the point of no return. Practice the start and stop method with them for the agreed time goal before allowing yourself to enjoy an orgasm. And don’t forget to be a generous lover and return the favor!
3. When you’re able to cope with your partner masturbating you, you can move on to oral sex. Again, you might find that you have to practice this for a few sessions before moving on to sex.
4. When you’ve developed better control during manual and/or oral, it’s time to move on to sex. It might take several weeks of regular practice before you do develop better control, which is fine.
5. You may find that sex is too stimulating, even after having success with manual and oral, so don’t rush in. And make sure you spend lots of time on foreplay first and/or use plenty of lubricant so you don’t feel too much pressure on your penis.
Enter slowly, doing just slow and shallow thrusts at first. If you like, you can remain motionless inside your partner for a minute or two before continuing.
5. When you stop each time, you have a few choices of things to do:
- Stop any thrusting movements – maybe just kiss, caress or fondle while you’re resting.
- Pull out and change position, or give them manual or oral for a minute.
- Continue but extremely slowly, maybe with very shallow, teasing thrusts.
7. You may find that it takes several sessions of having sex very slowly before you can cope with faster, harder sex and more exciting positions. Just take things easy, build up and add new challenges little by little.
Research evidence that it works
When I was investigating research into premature ejaculation treatments, I found many references to the start and stop technique.
Despite the fact that it’s often mentioned in scientific literature, however, there haven’t been many studies done to test its effectiveness.
And some of the studies that have been done either involved combined input from a therapist or combination therapy with drug treatment.
If you’re interested in reading more about this, you might find a 2015 British review of previous studies into behavioral techniques useful to read.
Interestingly, they conclude the following:
There is limited evidence that physical behavioral techniques for PE improve IELT and other outcomes over waitlist and that behavioral therapies combined with drug treatments give better outcomes than drug treatments alone. Further RCTs are required to assess psychotherapeutic approaches to PE.
‘Limited evidence’ could suggest that there isn’t much evidence, or that there is some but not enough to draw firm conclusions.
It seemed to me when reading their report that some of the previous research they looked at did have positive results, but others not so much.
So like many premature ejaculation treatments, it works well for some (myself included), but not for others. I definitely think it’s worth trying though – it’s free, easy to practice and in a couple of weeks you’ll know if it’s working or not.
You might also like
The start and stop technique is just one technique among many. So you might like to read one of my recommended premature ejaculation books for even more techniques, tips and ideas.
You might also find it helpful to read my premature ejaculation story, where I talk about the process I went through to deal with it.