Premature Ejaculation (PE) is defined as ejaculation that occurs in less than one minute following penetration. PE is the most common ejaculation problem and can affect many people with penises at different times in their lives.
Notice that the definition of PE is based on time taken following penetration. The penetration part of sex can often occur after prolonged foreplay, all of which counts as sex. Please be careful not to judge yourself harshly if you come ‘quickly ‘ after penetration, when you have potentially been turned on, and have been turning your partner(s) on, for some time.
A study looking at 500 couples from 5 different countries found the average time taken to ejaculate during intercourse was around 5-and-a-half minutes. The standards set by pornography are NOT real life and many partners do not enjoy prolonged periods of penetration. The vast majority of female bodied people do not achieve orgasm during penetration, so they may not be at all bothered about how long the penetrative part of sex lasts.
It is always helpful to visit your GP if you are experiencing a sexual function problem, to rule out physical causes. Common physical causes of premature ejaculation include:
Anaesthetic creams and sprays that contain a numbing agent are sometimes used to treat premature ejaculation. These products are applied to the penis 10 to 15 minutes before sex to reduce sensation and help delay ejaculation. Although topical anaesthetics can be effective, they can cause temporary loss of sensitivity and decreased sexual pleasure, for both you and your partner(s).
Some oral medications are used to help delay orgasm, including antidepressants, analgesics and PDE5 inhibitors. These medications might be prescribed for either on-demand or daily use and might be prescribed alone or in combination with other treatments.
If medical tests have ruled out a physical cause, sex therapy is your next step. PE can develop for a number of behavioural or psychological reasons. A person might have inadvertently trained themselves to come quickly to avoid being caught masturbating, or may have guilty feelings about sex due to religious beliefs, for example. Performance anxiety is a common cause of PE, as is Erectile Disorder. If a person is concerned about losing their erection they may come quickly to reach orgasm before the erection subsides.
Commonly, advice on PE centres on distraction techniques and ways to reduce arousal. These approaches rarely work. A specialist sex therapist will guide you to pay more attention to your sensations of sexual stimulation, to help you to recognise where you are in the arousal process. This, when combined with guided masturbation programmes, will increase your ability to control your ejaculatory reflex.
Remember, sex therapists are specialist trained counsellors and we talk about sex and sexual issues all day long. Don’t let embarrassment stop you from getting the help that you need and that works.