Sex Life: “I Do Push-ups To Get Rid Of Erections”

December 11, 2021

Sex Life is an anonymous Zikoko weekly series that explores the pleasures, frustrations and excitement of sex in the lives of Nigerians.

The subject of today’s Sex Life is a 28-year-old heterosexual man who’s a sickle cell warrior. He tells us how exercise helps him deal with priapism, his journey with masturbation, and how romance novels kickstarted his sexual journey.

What was your first sexual experience? 

I was in Primary 6 when I first masturbated. The details are foggy but I remember that it all started with erotic scenes in books.

I was a very shy child who really enjoyed reading. My mother bought me as many books as she could find. She is a very religious woman, so I don’t imagine she knew what she was buying when she got me all those James Hadley Chase and Harlequin books.

I had a very active mind and could picture everything I read in detail. When I read these scenes, I would get an erection. So I read more books.

One thing the books did was that they made me exclusively attracted to older women. I barely talked to girls my age. The women in the books were grown and curvy, and because there were always visiting aunties who fit this description, I started to fantasize about one of them.

I thought of her as I moved my waist on the bed. This continued till I came, and it was an interesting thing finding out my body could do that.

Oh wow. When did you start doing sexual things with other people?

Not until a lot later, around 2012. I was in my second year in university and I had a girlfriend. We started dating in 2011 and agreed that we wouldn’t have sex or do anything at all actually. She was the first person I’d ever kissed.

A year into our relationship, we decided that we would make out and try fingering and oral sex. In all this, we still never had sex.

Why did you decide not to have sex?

Sex had always been off the table for me. I read books with erotic scenes, watched porn, touched myself but the actual sex was where I drew the line.

I grew up very religious and so the topic of sex was a non-starter. So in a weird twist, masturbation became this thing I’d found that I could do to prevent myself from “sinning” like the rest of my secondary school mates were doing. 

They would tell me of the things they were doing with girls they liked, and I wouldn’t be moved because whatever pleasure they were getting, I could very easily sort myself out. 

What else has been a significant part of your sex life so far?

I live with sickle cell and as a man, this can come with a condition called priapism. Nobody had ever told me about it but I found out by myself when I was 20.

I was back home from university. It was the early hours of the morning and I had just finished watching Spartacus and masturbating. After a while, I noticed my erection hadn’t gone down at all. I couldn’t call for help because what would I tell my mum?

I panicked at first but then I tried cold water and it helped it calm down. I did some more googling and I found something that matched my symptoms. I read that adrenaline was something to take to fix it. Since I couldn’t buy adrenaline, I decided to substitute that with exercise.

At this point, I was still dating my girlfriend in university. When we made out and I felt like it was happening I excused myself and went out to do push-ups for about 15 to 20 minutes. This always helped. 

I always make sure to inform any sexual partners that I am a sickle cell warrior and that if we plan to be sexual in any way that this is a condition I have.

These days when it happens with my current partner, I just do the push-ups right there in front of her.

So how did sex finally happen for you?

Ah yes. That was in 2018. I had a friend who I would make out with from time to time. Ours was a “friend with benefits” setup.

She came into town to see me. I will start by telling you that the sex was not good. I wasn’t ready. Not just in a naive, not-knowing-anything way. That was a factor, but I genuinely wasn’t planning on having sex with her that day.

Before then, all we did was make out and give each other head. That was the plan when she came visiting this time and she was visiting from another state. When she arrived she basically told me, “I didn’t come all this way to just make out. We’re going to fuck.”

If we’d had a conversation about it prior to her getting there, I may have at least gotten my mind ready. At that moment though, I felt like I couldn’t say no. Then I believed that sex was not a thing I could turn down so as not to “fall my own hand.”

We had sex and after I came, she said she wanted to go again. I was so out of it that I couldn’t penetrate her again. She had to masturbate to get herself off.

I left the house for her after that night. What if she wanted sex that I didn’t want to give again? I spent a chunk of the time she was around in my neighbour’s house. 

I’m so sorry about that. Did this affect how you perceived sex?

It did. I was convinced that this first bad experience happened because I wasn’t prepared and I felt like I had to prove that it could be good if I tried again. So I called up another friend with benefits and she came over and the same thing happened. I could penetrate but my mind was still not in it. Even after planning and preparing myself for it.

It wasn’t until later that it hit me that I may have just not wanted to have sex with these women. I was fine with making out and oral sex but nothing more.

It’s just important to me that the partner I have sex with is someone I can be very vulnerable with and tell things to. With my current girlfriend, I’m ready to have sex but she’s not and that’s fine. 

So have you had sex that you enjoyed?

If you’re talking penetrative sex, I would say no. That last experience was the last time I had sex. But with other sexual activities, I can say that I’ve always enjoyed the thrill of discovering things about my partner’s body and mine.

That’s great. So how would you rate your sex life over 10?

8/10. I’ve had penetrative sex only twice and I’m not having sex right now, but I’m totally fine with it. I am making out and having oral sex with my girlfriend and as I ask my partner questions, I learn more ways to pleasure her.

Also, I can go days now without any sexual activity. Not even masturbating. When I feel horny, I usually just dive into work until I have time to attend to the feeling. So I’d say I’m not doing too badly.


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