Premature ejaculation

Specialty of Urology

What is premature ejaculation?

Premature ejaculation is a common type of sexual dysfunction in which a man experiences an orgasm and ejaculates (ejects semen) sooner than he or his partner desire, often soon after sexual intercourse has begun or with little stimulation.

What counts as premature?

What exactly counts as “premature” ejaculation is somewhat hard to define. The preferred length of time for sexual intercourse varies among different individuals and different couples, and there is no real consensus on how long sex “should” last. That said, men’s ejaculatory latency is said to typically be between 4-8 minutes, while the NHS quotes a study that found the average length of sex to be around five and a half minutes.

Men complaining of premature ejaculation often cite that they feel they have less control over ejaculating (although it is true that many, if not most men report that they wish they could last longer than they can).

At the end of the day, if the man and/or his partner feels dissatisfied with the sexual experience, they can seek help from a medical specialist.

Causes of premature ejaculation

There are thought to be various factors which can lead to premature ejaculation. Physical causes include prostate and thyroid problems, while psychological causes include anxiety, depression, and stress. Anxiety about sexual performance, perhaps due to a previous incident of premature ejaculation, is no exception, and can lead to a vicious circle that affects the individual’s sex life.

It is also possible that traumatic sexual experiences in the past could play a role. There is also a theory that conditioning (for example, if the man, as a teenager, became accustomed to ejaculating quickly to avoid being caught masturbating, this becomes a habit in later life).

Some men may have naturally sensitive penises. In other cases, recreational drug use is thought to affect sexual performance.

What is the treatment for premature ejaculation?

There are a variety of methods suggested to help combat premature ejaculation:

  • Use thick condoms to lower sensitivity.
  • Masturbate an hour or two before sex.
  • Take breaks during sex, during which you think about something boring to decrease arousal.
  • Take a deep breath to delay the ejaculatory reflex.

Couples experiencing sexual problems can attend couples’ therapy. The therapist may recommend techniques to help premature ejaculation, such as the “squeeze” and “stop-and-go” techniques. These involve the partner masturbating the man, but stopping before ejaculation. In the squeeze technique, the head of the penis is squeezed for 10-20 seconds and then released for 30 seconds before masturbation is resumed. The stop-go technique is similar, but without the squeezing. The process is repeated several times before the man is allowed to ejaculate. These techniques require patience and practice to get right, but can help the man last longer.

In some cases, medication may be prescribed, particularly if there is an underlying cause. You should always follow your doctor’s instructions with any medications.

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