Premature ejaculation

Premature ejaculation is where a man ejaculates (comes) too quickly during sexual intercourse. There is no defined time but it usually refers to ejaculation in under two minutes.

Why is this important?

Premature ejaculation is common amongst men in the UK. It can affect experience of sex for both partners.

Who does it affect?

Premature ejaculation is more common amongst young men, but can affect men at any age.

There are two types:

‘Lifelong’ premature ejaculation means that the problem has existed since puberty.

‘Acquired’ premature ejaculation indicates that someone started suffering from premature ejaculation at some point later in his life.

What is happening to my body?

For men with lifelong premature ejaculation, psychological causes are more common. Some men may have conditioned themselves to ejaculate quickly in their adolescence (to avoid getting caught). Some men may have become overly anxious with sex, because of a childhood trauma related to sex, or if their upbringing has made them view sex as inappropriate or shameful.

Acquired premature ejaculation can be caused by both physical and psychological issues, including:

  • Stress and depression (relationship issues, conflicts and performance-related anxiety)
  • Diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid problems and prostate disease
  • Binge drinking.

Some serious illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis, can cause premature ejaculation, as they can result in nerve damage.

Talking to your partner

It can be difficult to talk about premature ejaculation, but talking to your partner could play a big part in improving your situation by reducing stress and relieving anxiety during sex.

Get support

Prepare

You should visit a sexual health clinic or your GP if you think you are experiencing premature ejaculation.

Treatment

Self-help

There are a number of things you can try yourself before seeking medical help, such as:

  • Masturbating an hour or two before having sex
  • Using a thick condom to help decrease sensation
  • Taking a deep breath to briefly shut down the ejaculatory reflex (an automatic reflex of the body during which ejaculation occurs)
  • Having sex with your partner on top (to allow them to pull away when you are close to ejaculating)
  • Taking breaks during sex and thinking about something that doesn’t excite you.

Couples therapy

If you are in a long-term relationship, you may benefit from having couples therapy. Couples are encouraged to explore issues that may be affecting their relationship, and given advice about how to resolve them. They are then shown techniques that can help the man to ‘unlearn’ the habit of premature ejaculation.

Medication

Anaesthetic cream (such as lidocaine or prilocaine) simply numbs your penis, reducing your sensitivity. However, it can be transferred and absorbed into the vagina, causing decreased sensation.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are primarily designed to treat depression, can have the side effect of delaying ejaculation. These do have mild but temporary side effects such as fatigue and nausea.

More support

Questions?

Yes, premature ejaculation can be treated. Some of the possible treatments are described above.

You can go to either your GP or a sexual health clinic for advice. They may refer you to a specialist psychosexual counsellor for treatment.