The term 'premature ejaculation' (PE) is usually used when a man regularly ejaculates earlier than he and his partner would like him to during sex. As with all sex-related issues, it's highly personal. It's impossible to put a number on how long sex should last, but if it becomes an issue in the relationship then help is out there.
Experiencing PE now and again is quite normal and fairly common. It's difficult to estimate how many men experience it, as many men don't report their symptoms, but it's thought to be up to 30 percent.
If it's happening at least half the times you have sex, and is causing you or your partner upset, it's worth looking for help.
Causes of PE
Some men experience PE from the first time they're sexually active. For others, it develops later on. The causes can be physical, psychological, or both.
- Men who develop PE very suddenly may have a problem with their thyroid or prostate gland, so it's important for them to see their Doctor.
- PE can be connected to using recreational drugs
- Some men find their penis is extra sensitive, meaning they're more prone to PE
- Teenage boys anxious about being caught masturbating sometimes aim to ejaculate quickly. This habit can develop into persistent PE
- If your partner's culture has strict moral views on sex or masturbation, it may cause anxiety about sex that can lead to PE
- Some men experience PE due to anxiety about performance – especially if the relationship's quite new
- Experiencing stress or depression can sometimes result in PE
- Boys and men who've experienced sexual trauma can sometimes develop PE as a result
Remind your partner that you are there to support them and encourage them to talk to you, or a doctor, about any incidents in their past that may have resulted in them developing PE.
Talking to your partner about PE
Discussing PE can be hard for you both. Your partner may be anxious about his sexual abilities, worried about his health or upset at sharing traumatic events. It's best to raise the subject at a time when sex is definitely not on the agenda. If he approaches you to talk about, try to be patient and understanding – it's probably taken a lot of courage for him to discuss his concerns.
Encourage your partner to see his Doctor. They'll check for physical causes, and prescribe any necessary treatment.
Self-help techniques can help to make a difference:
- If your partner masturbates an hour or two before having sex, controlling ejaculation can be easier
- A thick condom can decrease sensation and help to prolong sex
- Taking breaks during sex, or pausing when your partner's close to ejaculating, can help to train the body to delay ejaculation
- If there's no physical cause and self-help techniques aren't improving things, medication to help with PE can be considered. This includes:
- A medicine called dapoxetine (Priligy is the brand name) which can be taken one to three hours before sex to help delay ejaculation
- Anaesthetic cream or spray can help to reduce sensitivity, and can be bought from pharmacies
- Other medicines can be prescribed by a Doctor
PE can have a big impact on a relationship. Visiting a relationship counsellor can help you explore potential issues together.
It's important to remember that PE doesn't mean your partner is failing at sex. It's a common problem that many couples have got over together.
- Talk to your partner about PE at a time when sex is not on the agenda
- Encourage him to visit his Doctor to rule out any physical causes
- Work together to practise self-help techniques