What is Premature Ejaculation?
Premature ejaculation (PE) is the term used to describe when a man ejaculates too quickly during sex. It can also be described as a man’s inability to influence or control when he ejaculates during sexual activity. In the past, it was common to say that a man suffered from PE if he came within a certain amount of time but now premature ejaculation is a much broader term. Generally speaking, if you regularly ejaculate before you or your partner would like you to during intercourse, you probably suffer from premature ejaculation to some degree. As a point of reference, the NHS states that the average amount of time spent having intercourse before ejaculation is approximately 5 and a half minutes.
One of the major problems with premature ejaculation is that it works in a vicious circle. If a man is concerned about coming too quickly, his anxiety can actually contribute towards PE and the cycle repeats.
How Common is Premature Ejaculation?
Premature ejaculation is a common problem. Whilst it’s impossible to say for definite how many people suffer from it, reports have shown that PE can affect up to 1 in 10 men, 1 in 5 men and even over 40% of men.
What Causes Premature Ejaculation?
The causes of premature ejaculation can be both physical and psychological. We have outlined some of the major physical and psychological causes below.
Some physical causes of premature ejaculation can include medical conditions such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and high blood pressure. If you are somebody who suddenly begins experiencing PE after a life of good ejaculatory control, this could be because of a physical cause. PE can also be a side effect from medications, drugs and excessive alcohol consumption. Some men acquire PE through conditioning at a young age. For example, conditioning yourself to ejaculate quickly as a teenager can have an effect which lasts into adulthood. Some men have penises which are more sensitive than average and this can also result in PE. It is also believed that PE could be an inherited condition in some cases. If you are concerned that you may have a physical issue causing you to ejaculate prematurely, it is recommended that you consult your doctor or health care professional.
Anxiety is a major cause of premature ejaculation. If a man is anxious about his sexual performance, he is more likely to come too quickly. And once this happens it reaffirms the anxiety which can carry over to the next time. There are many recognised causes for sexual anxiety. One example is a man’s desire to please. Focusing too much on performing well can add pressure which detracts from the moment and contributes towards anxiety. Other causes of anxiety can include upbringings where sex is shamed and traumatic sexual experiences.
Another example of anxiety is when men with erection problems speed through sex for fear of losing their erection before orgasming. Stress and depression are also factors that are associated with PE.
Why PE is a Problem
The length of time required for sex to be satisfying for men and women varies between people. Some people may be satisfied with any level of intimacy and enjoy short sex sessions. Other people may be unsatisfied with any sex sessions that don’t last for a half hour or more. Many partners will like to vary the length of sex sessions, for example, having a “quickie” when time is short but enjoying longer sessions on a free evening.
If you’re a premature ejaculator and both you and your partner want longer sex sessions more regularly, your sexual relationship will undoubtedly be affected by PE. Curing the premature ejaculation will no doubt help to create a more satisfying and fulfilling sex life for both you and your lover.
Premature ejaculation can cause all sorts of relationship issues beyond intercourse itself. If a man feels inadequate because of his PE, he may withdraw from sex which can make his partner feel rejected or neglected. This can then cause distance or tension in a relationship which seeps into all aspects of normal life. Some partners blame their man for his PE because they think he’s being selfish and is only concerned about his own orgasms. Of course, this isn’t necessarily true.
The best short-term remedy is to make sure your partner is sexually satisfied regardless of PE. Giving oral sex and pleasuring your partner with toys are just two examples of how you could do this. If your partner knows you care about satisfying them, it is less likely that PE will have as much of a negative impact overall even if it still needs addressing.
In extreme cases of premature ejaculation, ejaculation can occur before the penis enters the vagina. As a result, pregnancy via the traditional method is made much more difficult. This can be distressing for couples looking to have children.
PE can lower self-confidence because it causes feelings of inadequacy as a lover and even as a partner. Low self-confidence and low self esteem can have negative and destructive effects not only on relationships but also on work and social lives.
Can Premature Ejaculation be Cured?
Yes premature ejaculation can be cured. In her book How to Overcome Premature Ejaculation, Dr. Helen Singer Kaplan states that “over 90 percent of premature ejaculators can be cured within an average of 14 weeks of treatment”. Listed below is a variety of different methods known to help cure PE.
Methods for Overcoming Premature Ejaculation
Have More Sex
If you’re a young adult and/or sexually inexperienced, overcoming premature ejaculation may happen naturally as you gain more experience with the physical and psychological sensations of sex. Having regular sex with a partner you’re comfortable and happy with may be all it takes to get over your PE. Some men may suffer from temporary PE if they’ve abstained from sex for a longer period of time than usual. Again, regular sex may be all that’s needed to cure this. If you’re having regular sex but continue to suffer from PE, further methods may be necessary.
As well as having regular sex, masturbating shortly before sex helps some men to last longer during intercourse. It is also a good idea to go to the toilet before sex because the urge urinate can contribute towards ejaculating too quickly. Also, if you ejaculate quickly during your first round of intercourse, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go again soon afterwards. You may well find you last longer the second time round. Repeating this process may help you to gain confidence and last longer over time.
The Start-Stop Method
The start-stop method is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that can be practised alone or with a partner. Over time CBT can alter and remedy the emotions, thought processes and behaviours triggering PE.
The start-stop method involves training yourself to control ejaculation by stopping or reducing stimulation before climaxing. When alone, you masturbate up to a point where you feel the urge to ejaculate then slow down or stop to regain control. Once you feel ready, begin masturbating again. It’s recommended that you repeat this several times before releasing. It is a good idea to time your sessions and set yourself targets for how long you go for (e.g. 10, 15, 20 mins). You can increase the length of the sessions over time.
If you find that you reach the point of no return (the point at which ejaculation feels imminent) very quickly, you may wish to change your technique or slow down the speed at which you stroke your penis. It is recommended that you stimulate the entire penis rather than just the head. If you are progressing well with the exercise, you can use lubrication for a sensation that more closely resembles the vagina.
Start-Stop with a Partner
The start-stop method can also work with a partner and can be applied to manual, oral and full intercourse. Whichever form of intercourse you decide to try, stimulate yourself up to a point where you feel you are close to ejaculating and ease off, pull out or ask your partner to reduce the stimulation. Once you have regained control, begin again. It is important that you do not give yourself too much of a hard time if you release too early. Negative thoughts after ejaculation are only more likely to emphasise the problem and hinder your progress. Remember that you can practise again later.
Over time, the body and mind becomes more accustomed to the sensations of sex and your control and stamina are likely to improve.
Stamina Training Units
Certain sex toys have been developed for the purpose of increasing sexual stamina. The Stamina Training Unit (STU) by Fleshlight is designed to replicate the human vagina and offers stimulation that closely resembles sexual intercourse. This allows you to help train your body and mind to get used to the feelings of intercourse. Over time, this can help to improve your sexual stamina. The start-stop method mentioned above can be applied when using a stamina training toy. Fleshlight also provides an e-guide for improving sexual endurance when you purchase the STU so you’re fully equipped with the information you need to get the most out of the device.
The Penile Squeeze Method
The penile squeeze method, also referred to as the Masters-Johnson method after its founders, involves squeezing the head of the penis when the man has the urge to come. The squeezing can reduce arousal allowing the man to regain control and continue with intercourse or stimulation. Like the start-stop method, the penile squeeze method is a form of CBT.
Over time the squeeze method is known to help men to increase sexual endurance. Although proven to be effective, the method requires knowledge, practice and perseverance to carry out successfully. It can also be daunting as many men don’t like the idea of having their penis squeezed. It is recommended that you seek the advice of a professional to benefit fully from this method.
There are condoms on the market that are designed to help men last longer in bed. These condoms are thicker than standard condoms to reduce sensation and/or contain desensitising agents. Desensitising agents numb the penis to reduce sensation and, therefore, help some men to last longer. Unfortunately these condoms aren’t perfect for everyone and allergic reactions are quite common.
Train the Pelvic Floor Muscles
Training the pelvic floor muscles is perhaps one of the most effective ways of increasing sexual stamina. If you’re unsure of what the pelvic floor muscles are, they are the muscle fibers and connective tissues located beneath the pelvis. They are the muscles you can tense to stop yourself from urinating mid-stream. One of the pelvic floor muscles is the pubococcygeus muscle (PC muscle) which is why the pelvic floor muscles are also often referred to as the PC muscles.
A strong pelvic floor can help to increase control during sex as well as increase the strength of erections. With enough training, men can experience dry orgasms by utilising a strong pelvic floor. This means that they can orgasm but maintain an erection to continue having sex. The first step with training the pelvic floor is to stop the flow when you urinate. You can do this multiple times each time you go to the toilet. It is uncomfortable at first but can soon become habit. Additional pelvic floor exercises (also known as Kegel exercises after Arnold Kegel, the inventor of the exercises) include squeezing the muscles any time. You can do this sat at a desk, on the bus or even when walking. You can squeeze and release quickly or you can squeeze, hold for a desired number of seconds and then release.
Another method for training the muscles is to raise and lower the erect penis by tensing and releasing the pelvic floor muscles. This can be included as part of your masturbation routine (and can be practised along side the start-stop method). For an added challenge, hanging a wet cloth on your erect penis as you raise and lower it makes for a stronger work out. There are even penis weights designed for this type of training. Like working out in a gym, training the pelvic floor muscles requires consistent work but the results can be well worth the effort. Remember to give yourself days off if your muscles are feeling tired.
There are plenty of training systems available which are designed specifically to teach you how to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and increase sexual endurance. These systems provide a range of different exercises as well as advice on how to get the most out of the training.
As an additional note, not only can pelvic floor exercises help to dramatically improve your sex life but they can also be used to combat incontinence especially in older age.
A common side effect of antidepressants (specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – SSRIs) is that they can make the user last longer in bed. In some cases, they can make it difficult for a man to ejaculate at all. If you’re interested in taking antidepressants to subdue ejaculation, it’s best that you talk to your GP or a medical professional for more information.
Taking your Mind Off the Sex
Some men find that taking their mind off the sexual act they’re currently engaging in can help to delay ejaculation. For example, you could think about something you find particularly unattractive (e.g. your mother-in-law) or something you find boring or mundane (e.g. filling in stats at work). Whilst this may work as a temporary solution, we wouldn’t recommend it because it takes you out of the moment, reduces your enjoyment of sex and doesn’t help you to get used to the full physical and mental stimulations of the act. Stamina training is likely to be a more reliable and enjoyable solution.
Having a Supportive Partner
Regardless of how you decide to try and overcome PE, having a supportive partner can be the difference between success and failure. With a supportive partner, you can work together towards your goals and this makes the process much more straight-forward and effective. An unsupportive partner who criticises and berates you for your PE adds to the anxiety, pressure and stress. This makes overcoming PE more difficult. If you have an unsupportive partner who is unwilling to help you overcome your PE or hinders your progress with berating remarks, perhaps it is worth considering whether he or she is the right partner for you.
Premature ejaculation can have a detrimental effect on your sex life, relationship and everyday life. Thankfully PE is not something you have to suffer with indefinitely. By addressing the issue with an open and direct approach and applying one or multiple of the methods above, you can overcome PE and have the sex life you deserve. For more information on how to address PE, please remember that you can consult your GP or health care professional.