The start and stop method is a classic self-help technique that can help men who suffer from premature ejaculation.
It’s particularly helpful if you’re currently single and have time to work on your sexual stamina. And if you’re in a relationship, you can either practice it when you’re alone or ‘on the job’ with your partner.
How does it work?
The method is all about learning where your point of no return is – the point where ejaculation is practically inevitable.
Then when you have sex, you stop yourself when you spot the signs that you’re getting close to that path 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 you can go for longer before hitting that point.
Understand your arousal levels
The second goal is to develop a better understanding of your arousal levels. This will help you stay aware of how much time you spend doing movements that stimulate you too much.
Then if you find yourself getting too aroused, you know you need to do something about it.
Part 1: solo practice
It’s better to practice on your own initially because you can take the time to really focus on how your body reacts when stimulated.
- Set yourself a time goal. 20 minutes is a good time, but less is fine to start with.
- Masturbate normally using just your hand. Try to keep a slow and steady pace.
- When you feel yourself getting close to climax, stop masturbating. Don’t stop too early, but don’t push it to the last second either.
- Rest for 30 to 60 seconds before continuing. Relax your body and breathe slowly while you rest.
- Repeat steps 1 to 3 until you reach your time goal. Then you can ejaculate naturally.
- 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 couple of weeks to see improvements, so don’t give up if you feel there’s no initial progress.
- After you feel that you’re making some small improvements, 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, 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.
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’s a method to try:
- If you’re very sensitive, start with just kissing for a few minutes.
- Your partner can start to caress your body slowly and sensually.
- Ask your partner to masturbate you with their hand. If that makes you ejaculate quickly, this is the level you need to practice at for a few sessions.
- Tell 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 finish.
- When you’re able to cope with your partner masturbating you, you can move on to oral sex.
- And when you can last longer with oral, you can again move to sex.
- You might find that sex is too stimulating, even after developing control during manual and oral, so don’t rush. Spend time on foreplay and use lubricant to reduce the friction.
- Start with slow and shallow thrusts. You can even remain motionless inside your partner for a minute to let the initial intensity pass.
- Each time you rest, just kiss or caress your partner. You could also pull out and give them manual or oral for a minute or two.
- Continue slowly, with shallow, teasing thrusts.
- It might take many slow sessions before you can cope with more stimulating movements or positions. Just take things easy, build up and gradually increase the intensity.
Research evidence that it works
When I was researching 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 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.
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.