As the world well knows, it’s a simple matter of biology that the sexes will never be equal. In matters of conjugal relations, the Earth never moves at the same speed.
This week it was announced that scientists have created a new drug designed to prolong men’s sexual performance.
Professor Mike Wyllie, one of the team of scientists who developed Viagra in the Nineties, has created a spray-on medication, called Fortacin, which is said to help men last up to ten times longer in the bedroom
But while some may relish the opportunity for increased enjoyment, others will be turning pale at the thought.
Here, nine unabashed writers ask whether it’s what men — and women — really want?
GO FOR LONGER? NOT WHEN THERE’S LAUNDRY TO DO
Brian Viner, Daily Mail film critic
More important things to do: Brian Viner wouldn't want to lose any sleep over it
After almost 25 years of marriage, it seems perfectly reasonable to turn to outside agencies in the quest for a better sex life. After all, my wife already cheerfully admits that nothing gets her more excited in bed than the Farrow & Ball colour chart. So why shouldn’t I have something on my bedside table, too?
But a spray to keep me going for longer? I’m pretty sure she would consider that a terribly retrograde step.
After all, ever since Sting boasted about his seven-hour tantric sex sessions, she has always looked on his wife, Trudie Styler, with the kind of sympathy she otherwise reserves for victims of house fires.
I’m not saying my wife doesn’t enjoy sex. She has even been known to initiate it. In fact, I think I remember the very Tuesday afternoon, early in 2013, when she last did.
But it is not an activity she wants to prolong unduly. There are always more important things to do, such as sleeping. Or, if it’s a daytime tryst, the laundry.
Luckily for me, I have never peaked too early during sexual intercourse. Although I realise that it must be a frustrating condition, and can see that a quick spritz just before the act might offer a happy solution.
But we live in the countryside, surrounded by farmland, so a bigger problem in our bedroom is the distraction of big, buzzy flies. I dread to think, in the height of passion, of what might happen if I reached for the wrong spray.
Have there been occasions when I could have done with a spray to prolong my performance? I can think of only one, on a deserted beach in the Western Isles many years ago. I was so certain that a wholesome family of picnickers were about to appear over the dunes, that I wrapped up proceedings far too abruptly.
Of course, we’d never do it now. Far too much sand.
Thinking back though, it was rather lovely and romantic. I still wish I’d lasted longer.
Ten minutes is just fine with me
Rebecca Wallersteiner, writer
Rebecca Wallersteiner: 'In my opinion, ten minutes is ideal'
Rather like Yvonne, the heroine of the BBC’s recent drama Apple Tree Yard, it doesn’t take much to satisfy me. Although I have to admit I don’t share her alarming taste for alfresco dalliances in the freezing alleys of Westminster.
In my opinion, ten minutes is ideal. I rather suspect this tallies well with the average man’s view of the matter, a lucky trick of my biology which makes things a lot simpler. Because I’ve certainly had partners in the past who weren’t too bothered about anything beyond their own enjoyment.
One, an artist, had a penchant for making love in his hallway cupboard. He was a bit quick and, to make it worse, there was the constant threat of interruption from the steady stream of friends, models and patrons popping in to his house.
It might have added a frisson for him, but I found it terribly distracting — not to mention uncomfortable.
Then again, the opposite problem is worse. I had a seven-year relationship with an athlete who viewed activity in the bedroom as an endurance sport.
At first, I felt flattered because he was very good-looking, with a body like a Greek statue.
But he always seemed to be competing against himself and his last performance. He was determined to keep going all night, in the impression that this would ensure my pleasure.
Sadly, he was mistaken. It was exhausting, and would leave me tired and drained the next day. I worried he might think I was ungrateful if I told him I really just wanted to go to sleep. And yet I don’t think he ever noticed that it wasn’t working for me.
Never mind sprays, think about tax
Cosmo Landesman, writer
Quick fix: Cosmo Landesman thinks we should concentrate on closing the 'orgasm gap'
The news about a spray that will delay the arrival of that little flurry of delight — the male orgasm — will be received by some men with an air punch cry of, ‘YES!’
But women, who feel the whole thing goes on far too long already, will I suspect just cry.
The idea behind the spray is to close the ‘orgasm gap’ between men and women. Let’s be honest. We men take — on average — about three seconds to achieve gratification, at least on a good day. Women take about three days — and they’re the lucky ones.
Why are men and women so out of sync? One reason is our physical incompatibility. The male member is a hyperactive adolescent that suffers from ADHD; a woman’s private parts are like some difficult foreign language — Mandarin, say — that requires years of study and dedication to understand.
But it’s a language that men who think only of their own gratification never bother to learn.
There’s also an incompatibility of minds. Men focus too much on the mechanics of intercourse instead of the intermingling of feelings. Trust, intimacy, affection and love are crucial for great sex.
Personally, I shan’t be using this new-fangled spray. I intend to stick to my true and tested tricks of thinking about my income tax return or Jeremy Clarkson. It’s easy to use and by God it works!
It’s awful when he rolls over asleep
Olivia Lichtenstein, documentary film maker
Ill manners: Olivia Lichtenstein thinks its the height of rudeness to leave someone unsatisfied
Imagine sharing a meal out with someone who, having cleaned his plate, gets up and walks out of the room while you’re still eating. Not very polite, is it? You’d be most unlikely to agree to a second date.
So how, tell me, does that differ from being in bed with a man, who, as soon as he’s finished, rolls over and goes to sleep, leaving you wide awake and unsatisfied?
Why is such rudeness something that almost all women have experienced and, all too often, put up with over and over again — many of them, I suspect, for a lifetime?
As a long-married woman, my idea of a wild night these days is a few games of backgammon with the old man followed by a box set on the television.
But in my heyday, I was pretty adventurous and, in my amorous peregrinations, all too often found myself on the receiving end of such ill-mannered behaviour.
So why didn’t I, or my friends with whom I would discuss such matters at length, say anything about it to the men involved?
I suspect that we felt that it would be the height of ill manners to express our discontent.
I think we also believed that the quest for our own ‘completion’ would reveal something shameful about us.
After all, it’s only relatively recently that women have dared to vaunt their own appetites and not all that long since the idea of a good husband was one who didn’t ‘trouble’ you much.
Who knows, maybe this spray could be the answer for the inconsiderate man, cooling his ardour enough to give women a fighting chance of satisfaction.
After all, I suspect the Millennials, who are much more vocal about their desires, wouldn’t put up with such ill manners for a moment.
Mind you, I did once doze off inopportunely.
Now that’s not very polite either, is it?
It’s like using WD40 on a misfiring car
Quentin Letts, Daily Mail sketch writer
Quentin Letts: 'If any part of the body needs squirting to improve men’s sexual performance it is, I would suggest, the brain'
When a sex scientist called Wyllie speaks, we men plainly need to listen. But is Professor Mike Wyllie entirely sure about this idea he has for a spray which chaps can apply to their under-carriage before bedtime? He says it will improve their staying power. Is he sure that all women want that?
Some of them may want to get to work in the mornings. Oh do hurry up, Basil. At this rate I’m going to miss the 8.08 to Waterloo. A spray? On your whatnot? Does this not evoke images of whipping out the can of WD40 when the car won’t start in the morning?
But if Professor Wyllie’s Fortacin can help some unfortunate couples to rediscover the joys of physical love, that must be welcome. Fortacin. Not a great name. Makes me think of mushrooms.
If any part of the body needs squirting to improve men’s sexual performance it is, I would suggest, the brain. More than half our va-va-voom occurs in the mind. How stressed are we? How much are we thinking about work, about money, about recent squabbles with the love of our lives?
When mid-embrace, nothing is quite as much of a let-down — cue the droopy trombone — as remembering some forgotten chore, or realising that you still have not paid the gas bill. Yet Prof Wyllie wants us to apply his wonder-spray below the Plimsoll Line. The very thought is enough to make a tortoise retreat into his shell.
And what about the £99.99 cost for 20 doses? Accountants will soon compute what that works out at per extra minute of stamina. But it sounds a lot of money. At that price you’d want to make sure the daily didn’t mistake it for her tin of Pledge.
The middle-aged male libido is unpredictable. My wife once had to tell one of her girlfriends: ‘If they aren’t used, they’ll fall off with rust.’ Equally, it might fall off from exhaustion.
I’d rather read the newspaper
Julia Stephenson, socialite
Bored: Julia Stephenson would 'rather scrub the taps with a toothbrush than have sex'
News that a group of sadists, sorry, scientists, have found a way for men to go on even longer in the bedroom fills me with horror. What we women really want is something that will speed them up, not slow them down.
Once you get past the initial first flush of lust, sex becomes a drag. Indeed, all my married friends will do anything to avoid having sex with their husbands. And who can blame them when we live in a world full of other, far more thrilling diversions?
Even when I was in my frisky prime, I always found the best part of sex was the chase, and while the seduction was often thrilling, five minutes was quite enough. President Kennedy was famous for his one-minute seductions and I never heard of any of his conquests complaining.
When I was married in the Nineties, I found sex with my husband so tedious I used read the newspaper while he was fiddling around.
My libido hasn’t improved and, now I am 54, I would rather scrub the taps with a toothbrush than have sex. My poor, long-suffering boyfriend of 12 years has practically given up on me.
On the few occasions we might manage something, I make sure the time isn’t completely wasted by getting on with facial exercises. If he’s taking his time, I’ll often grumble, ‘Can’t you hurry up?’
It should always be ‘ladies first’
Linda Kelsey, former editor of Cosmopolitan magazine
Honest: Linda Kelsey has no problem being open with her current partner
This new spray could be a real boon to the countless couples who find their lovemaking is over almost as soon as it has begun.
But not all men who fall short of supplying sexual satisfaction to their partners have a medical problem. What they do have is a knowledge deficit.
As a junior editor — and a young wife — on Cosmopolitan Magazine back in the Seventies, I read as much as I could about the mysteries of the orgasm. The problem was that while I knew all the theories, I didn’t have the sexual confidence to put it into practice or communicate it to my partner. Result, little satisfaction in bed.
These days, after decades of practice and a snail’s pace build-up of sexual self-esteem, I have no problem being open and honest with my current partner who, like me, has learned by trial and error the art of giving, as well as taking, pleasure in bed.
So, what’s the solution? Given that the majority of men fall into a sleep akin to a coma directly afterwards — and that simultaneous pleasure is as rare as rubies — it makes a lot more sense to take it in turns, with the woman being offered first place.
We women are remarkable creatures, who generally feel even more loving afterwards than before, so giving us satisfaction first will not deprive a man of his reward.
For the three little words that are music to women’s ears are not what they think. What women really want to hear is: ‘After you darling . . .’
What would my cleaner say?
Henry Deedes, writer
'What if someone found it?' Henry Deedes thinks the spray could cause some embarrassment
Think of your 13 times table, your landlady, your uncle, your glinty-eyed Latin teacher from prep school spread-eagled on the desk. Eek!
Now, forget all that malarkey. Apparently, Professor Wyllie has developed a handy spray that’ll keep men going longer than a ride on the Rajdhani Express. It all sounds well and good, but let’s consider a few practicalities.
First, when does the Prof expect this stuff to go on?
Candles? Check. Mood music? Check. Now hang on, treacle, while I just spritz the chap with some of this magic elixir. I don’t think so.
Second, any man who’s ever owned a can of Deep Heat will tell you we have an in-built aversion to spraying on sensitive areas. Anywhere just below navel is just a no-go area for us, aerosol-wise.
And what if someone found it? A quick rummage through my bathroom cabinet from a visitor, and that’s me socially ostracised for the next six months. If not, my poor, long-suffering cleaner’s just bound to stumble upon it and, God knows, she’s seen enough already.
I don’t want him to be a piston engine
Olivia Fane, author
Torture: Olvia Fane thinks the spray sounds like something you would give to your pet
It sounds like torture, something a vet might give a dog before mating with a bitch to increase the likelihood of pregnancy.
I have been married for almost 25 years: I am happy to report that over time sex becomes more sensual, more loving and less erotic.
But thinking back to my time as an exhausted mother of five young boys, sex became something to be fitted in between bouts of breast-feeding and nappy-changing.
Sex, if truth be told, became something of a duty rather than a pleasure, and if my beloved husband had one day come home with a magic spray which turned him into a piston engine, I would have been mortified.
I love to be massaged slowly and lovingly; I love to be kissed, and thank God I don’t have a husband who thinks his manhood is the be all and end all.
A good friend, who was already having sex every night, once told me that her husband had got hold of some Viagra and they were enjoying three-hour marathons. At first she was proud of the fact. By the end of the week, she could scarcely walk.
So no spray for me, thank you. We’ll do things our way