Premature Ejaculation

Premature ejaculation (or as I prefer to refer to it, involuntary ejaculation) isn’t defined by a specific length of time, but more to do with losing control over when to ejaculate, and commonly ejaculating when either you or your partner aren’t ready. The main feature that earns the label of premature ejaculation is if this causes you distress.

How soon is too soon?

It is often described as ejaculating within about 1 minute of penetration, although there is no fixed time for ‘too soon’.

It is more defined as a loss of control over ejaculation, and the distress it causes.

Is premature ejaculation common?

It is the most common male sexual problem reported, and affects men of all ages.

It is more common in younger men, partially due to the fact that ejaculation takes longer as we age, and younger men may also be less sexually experienced or feel less secure with the scenario or situation in which they are having sex.

There are other ejaculation problems too

Other than premature ejaculation, people can suffer from

  • No ejaculation
  • Delayed ejaculation
  • Retrograde ejaculation
  • Painful ejaculation

Men suffering from any of these should come and speak to their GP

Types of premature ejaculation

There is lifelong premature ejaculation which occurs from the first sexual experience and continues with every subsequent sexual experience. If left untreated, this will continue for the rest of a man’s life.

There is also acquired premature ejaculation which develops following a period with normal functioning before the premature ejaculation begins. Acquired premature ejaculation is often linked with our psychology, and an appropriate therapist can be extremely helpful in untangling why it has occurred and how we can address it.

What causes premature ejaculation?

For those suffering lifelong premature ejaculation there can be an imbalance of the neurotransmitters that help influence excitation and inhibition of ejaculations, thus lowering the threshold required for ejaculation.

Acquired premature or involuntary ejaculation can be caused by stress, relationships, and anxiety, and each can affect how and when we ejaculate. Understanding that sex is more than the art of standing to attention and performing on demand, having discussions with your partner, and learning about what sex means to you can all help to improve how it impacts us.

It can also be secondary to erectile dysfunction, as intense stimulation can be required to achieve an erection, but may hasten ejaculation.

Treatment of premature ejaculation

The treatment method chosen depends on the cause of the condition (whether lifelong or acquired)

There are lots of treatments available such as sex therapy, behavioural techniques, gels that reduce penile sensation, oral medicines and erectile dysfunction treatments (if this is also a problem).

Sex Therapy and/or counselling:

Counselling with a therapist experienced in sex may be very helpful in treating the anxiety associated with premature ejaculation. Counselling can also help identify any underlying personal, or relationship issues that may have an impact.

Behavioural techniques:

Firstly ensuring that sex is being had in an environment of safety. This doesn’t just mean physical safety, but emotional safety and understanding that there’s a two way street in discussing issues that may be bothering you. People refer to it as performance anxiety, which can be unhelpful because sex isn’t always a performance. One main behavioural technique is communication. Discuss what worries you, and you may work out there wasn’t anything to worry about in the first place.

The ‘stop start’ method involves telling your partner to stop stimulation when you feel you are nearing ejaculation, then starting again when the feeling has passed. You can repeat this until you are ready to ejaculate.

The ‘squeezing’ method described by pioneer sex researchers Masters and Johnson involves squeezing the end of the penis for several seconds just before ejaculation, which lessens the urge to ejaculate. Again this can be repeated until you and your partner are ready to ejaculate.

Reducing penile sensation:

There are prescription gels available to reduce penile sensation that can be applied 30 minutes before sexual intercourse. After this a condom is worn to prevent absorption by the partner.

Two condoms can be worn to reduce sensation – although this reduces the effectiveness of the condom as a contraceptive or to prevent STI’s as the friction of the two condoms can cause tears in them.


Antidepressant medications are often used as they have the side effect of delayed ejaculation. They can also be helpful if anxiety is a cause of premature ejaculation.

They can however also lower libido, and cause other side effects so make sure you speak to your doctor if this is the right option for you.

Erectile dysfunction treatments can be helpful if this is also an element in premature ejaculation. Please see our page Erectile Dysfunction.

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