By Ben Okiror
Alex was a virgin up to his wedding day. It was the gift of all gifts he wanted to present to his wife. But he says the excitement was shortlived due to anxiety.
He had dreamt his wife laughing at him for poor performance. â€œMy wedding day became a sort of count down to the time we would be consummating the marriage and I didnâ€™t know whether I would measure up to the expectation. And the closer we came to the end, the more scared I became,â€ he said.
Like many men in similar situations, anxiety and pressure characterise the first sexual encounter. The older men are, the more the pressure. Husbands take it as their first and major role. There comes with it the pressure to perform where you have no experience before. â€œHusbands torture themselves in their self-esteem analysis of first time sex,â€ Hilary Bainemigisha, a relationship columnist at The New Vision explains. â€œThere is a tendency to get preoccupied with such questions as: Will I satisfy my wife? What if I fail? Will she ever respect me as the head of the household? What if she is more experienced and noticed the amateurism in me? Do these things happen naturally? If so, why do girls mock men who are inadequate? That is not a good foundation to approach your first sex with.â€
The number of virgin men has increased, especially because of the abstinence campaigns and fear of HIV/AIDS. The 2006 HIV/AIDS Sero-Behavioural Survey by the Ministry of Health showed that virgins are growing in number. The proportion of men aged 15-19 who had never had sex had increased from 52% in 1995 to 61% in 2001. Most of these men are not adequately prepared to meet the challenges of marital sex for the first time.
Alex said his fear dogged him throughout the first honeymoon night and nothing happened.
Experts say anxiety affects performance. Men also tend to draw self esteem from their sexual prowess and when they fear, things get worse.
Dr. Paul Semugoma of International Medical Centre says much of a manâ€™s erection comes from the mind and is affected by everything that affects the mind, especially fear. â€œThis fear can cause you to lose the erection. If it happens once, it may happen again because you fear,â€ he says.
Semugoma advises couples not to hurry things. â€œTake your time to arouse each other and donâ€™t put pressure on yourself. You will get to the point when your anxiety goes and you can have sex. When you have it once, it will be easier the next time.â€
Bainemigisha says the best approach is to disclose your status. â€œMany virgin men pretend they are experienced to avoid societyâ€™s stigma. But there are all good reasons to inform your wife that you are a virgin. This will not only increase her confidence in you but also stabilise her expectations,â€ he said.
Pastor John Ekudu, a marriage counsellor, advises virgin men to discuss their fear with a trusted counsellor. â€œIf you fear to bring it out especially during group counselling, you can seek a one-on-one counselling session where you can comfortably talk about it,â€ he said.
However, Joseph Musaalo, a counsellor at Uganda Christian University, Mukono, argues that sex is natural and humans discover themselves without being taught. â€œI believe people read books and are exposed too,â€ he said. â€œThe best experience is exploring your partner in love.â€
Ekudu also says the couple should try to relax and talk freely with each other about what they feel, what they want and what feels good. He adds that although it might take long to feel comfortable doing this, they should encourage each other gently and patiently.
He says comfort is a crucial thing. Make sure hygiene issues are taken care of (brushing your teeth and bathing before sex) and choose a place you are comfortable in.
He also advises against expecting too much from the first sex. â€œOrgasm may not be as explosive, sex may not last as long as you want, â€¦ do not worry; just enjoy it and let her know how much you enjoyed it. Intercourse, like anything else, gets better with practice. However much you know, it wonâ€™t be perfect but it will be an experience to remember,â€ he said.
Rev. Arthur Magezi, a marriage counsellor, however says sex does not necessarily have to take place on the wedding night. He says: "Excellent sex is developed. It doesn't just happen. It is like building a city. You start somewhere, build your castles and end somewhere. Thus, sexual partners need to work on it like a building."
Magezi also says the 'male hymen' (frenulum) may tear and bleed during the first penetration.
"It will have a little pain but will heal in a few days as sexual activity continues," he says. "After the skin is heeled, it takes a couple some time to adjust to comfortable sex."
Magezi echoes Bainemigisha on diclosure. He says: "It takes a real man to openly tell his woman that he has never had sex and that they are going to teach each other till they excel. Our cultures sometimes turn men into foolish weaklings, who pretend to know when actually they don't know. The result is frustration, shame, low self-esteem, pain and can break the marriage."
Failure to rise to the occasion is not the end, Magezi argues. The man needs to always be aware that what the wife needs most is love, not just sex. Thus, he can keep the wife satisfied with a lot of love as they both learn the sexual skills needed to complete the package.
"Genital-to-genital engagement is not all that a couple has for body satisfaction," Magezi said. "You can kiss, touch and massage and talk and be merry together. That releases you from the tension and worries of failing. Then any partner can easily guide the other when genital engagement starts."