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Premature Ejaculation (PE) Treatments & Advice

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  • What is Premature Ejaculation?

    Premature ejaculation is ejaculation that occurs uncontrollably before or shortly after the start of sexual intercourse/penetration, without much stimulation and before you want it to happen. Premature ejaculation describes the condition where a man achieves orgasm very soon after penetrating his partner or even before penetration.

    Doctors use three criteria to establish whether a person has premature ejaculation:

    1. Ejaculation frequently occurs within a minute of penetration.
    2. You find it difficult to delay ejaculation.
    3. Sex has become problematic, frustrating or distressing.

    If these apply to you then you are likely to suffer from the condition, which is thought to affect around 20% of men at some point in their lives. It is important to get help as premature ejaculation can have a bearing on the well-being of a relationship as well as the sufferer’s happiness and self-esteem.

    It can often lead to both partners having an unsatisfactory sexual experience. This then can increase the anxiety that in some ways contributes to the problem. If you suffer from premature ejaculation, you should bear in mind that it is probably the most common form of male sexual dysfunction and will undoubtedly have affected most men at some point in their lives.

  • What causes Premature Ejaculation?

    With most cases, there is not a clear cause of premature ejaculation. Men often learn how to delay orgasms and ejaculation as they gain more experience and get older. Premature ejaculation is sometimes caused by there being a long period of time between orgasms or with a new partner.

    Psychological problems like depression, nerves or anxiety can sometimes be the culprit, while in other cases it could be related to a medical condition such as a side effect to a particular medicine, an injury or hormonal problems.

    It can be a more common occurrence for young men in a new relationship, and it usually improves over time. In addition, inflammation of the prostate, nervous system disorders or the side-effects of certain medicines or even illegal drugs like cocaine can cause premature ejaculation. It is important that if any other physical or mental symptoms accompany premature ejaculation that you consult your GP.

  • How is Premature Ejaculation treated?

    In the majority of cases, premature ejaculation is often resolved over time on its own without medical treatment. Using distraction methods and relaxation techniques could help you delay ejaculation. Other men have successfully treated their premature ejaculation by cutting down or completely stopping their use of recreational drugs, tobacco or alcohol.

    Premature ejaculation can sometimes be temporary and simply get better on its own. In certain instances, having sex more often can help to address the problem, as can wearing a condom to reduce the sensitivity of the penis.

    It can be helped by adopting certain positions and techniques during sex. Premature ejaculation is less likely to occur if you have sex with your partner on top. There is also the 'squeeze technique'. Your partner masturbates you then gently but firmly squeezes the head when you signal that you are about to orgasm. After about 10-20 seconds start again, repeating the process several times.

    Your doctor or GP may recommend specific methods for you and your partner to practice to delay ejaculation. This could involve identifying the sensations that lead up to ejaculation and controlling them by communicating with each other to slow down or stop stimulation. 

    Other helpful options could be trying sexual intercourse in a different position or by using a delay condom (if you don’t already) to reduce the sensation to your penis. Behavioural therapy and counselling is also thought to be beneficial in reducing anxiety that could be causing your premature ejaculation.

    Priligy (Dapoxetine) has been successfully used to prevent premature ejaculation and can prolong time to orgasm by 200 – 300%. Priligy comes in tablet form and is taken 1 – 3 hours before sex to give the desired effect. Up to 80% of those who take Priligy experience a longer ejaculation time.

    There are also a variety of topical sprays, gels and creams – such as Emla – that are used to reduce sensation by being applied before intercourse. A downside to these particular medicinal treatments is that they, in addition to affecting your own sensation, can sometimes affect your partner’s too. Instructions with these treatments should be followed carefully to avoid this.

    EMLA is an anaesthetic cream that is applied to the penis approximately 30 minutes before sex. It delays ejaculation in the majority men and is a popular treatment with minimal side effects.

  • How can I tell if I suffer from Premature Ejaculation?

    Premature ejaculation occurs when a man ejaculates earlier than desired during penetrative sex. Because the concept of ‘normal’ sex is subjective, it is sometimes difficult to tell whether ejaculation is premature or not. As a guideline, studies have shown that the average time that a man takes to ejaculate during penetrative sex is between five and six minutes.

    Almost all men will experience premature ejaculation from time to time; this is normal. If you notice that it occurs in the majority of your attempts at intercourse, you might consider your options for treatment.

  • Why do I have Premature Ejaculation?

    There is a multitude of factors that can contribute to problems with ejaculation. Many causes are psychological, including depression, stress (either from the relationship or otherwise) and a history of traumatic sexual experiences. Men can also have anxiety problems during sex, whereby they hurry through sex for fear of erectile dysfunction.

    Certain medical conditions and medications can delay or accelerate ejaculation as a side effect. Some men may also be physically predisposed to premature ejaculation, for example, those with an abnormally sensitive penis.

  • Is Premature Ejaculation common?

    Premature ejaculation is the most prevalent sexual problem amongst men. Studies have shown that one in three men are affected. Because many men might be embarrassed to admit to this dysfunction, the true rate is likely significantly higher.

  • What is the best way to delay Ejaculation?

    You may be able to delay your ejaculation on your own. Here are two techniques that you can try:

    The ‘stop/start’ technique involves training yourself to recognise the point just before you ejaculate. Gradually stimulate the penis until you think you have reached this point, then stop stimulation until you no longer feel the need to ejaculate. This should take 30 to 60 seconds. Resume stimulation until you reach the same point, then rest for another 30 to 60 seconds. After repeating this process at least four times, allow yourself to ejaculate normally. Do this routine regularly for a few weeks – you should notice much more control over your ejaculation during sex.

    The ’squeeze’ technique is a similar routine that will include your partner. While they are stimulating your penis, alert them when you are about to ejaculate. Have them squeeze the shaft just below the glans or head. You should notice the need to ejaculate go away. As with the first technique, repeat this routine a few times before allowing yourself to ejaculate normally. This is a difficult technique which will require commitment from both partners.

  • Are ‘delay sprays’ effective?

    A delay spray is a local anaesthetic which can reduce the sensitivity of the penis. For men with lifelong premature ejaculation have been shown to last up to six times longer during sex with the use of anaesthetic sprays. Your GP can prescribe delay sprays, most of which contain the anaesthetic lidocaine.

    There are no serious side effects of delay sprays, though they may reduce sensitivity to the point of which you do not actually feel yourself ejaculating. The anaesthetic can also be transferred to your partner – consider using a condom so that her sensitivity is not also affected.

  • Are antidepressants effective?

    Some types of antidepressant have been shown to delay ejaculation. However, most of these are not approved in the UK for treating premature ejaculation. If you are prescribed an antidepressant for your premature ejaculation, it will likely be a selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor, known as a SSRI. You will be required to take one pill each night for one month. If this is shown to be effective at delaying your ejaculation, you will then simply take a SSRI one hour before sex. Side effects can include drowsiness, blurred vision and dry mouth. Because of the nature of these side effects, it should be taken only at night; you should also be careful when driving or operating machinery the following day.

    One particular SSRI approved in the UK for treating premature ejaculation is dapoxetine. It is taken one to three hours before intercourse and has been shown to substantially delay ejaculation. Dapoxetine must be prescribed by a GP, as complications can arise when mixed with other medications. For example, the combination of dapoxetine and phosphodiesterase inhibitors such as Viagara can cause a decrease in blood pressure. Furthermore, it should not be combined with alcohol or other recreational drugs. Dapoxetine can cause nausea, headache and dizziness. Other side effects include insomnia, anxiety, blurred vision, tinnitus, reduced libido and erectile dysfunction.

    If SSRIs are not appropriate with your current medication, or if you also experience erection problems, your GP may prescribe other available drug treatments. In some cases, the benefits of these drugs might not outweigh potential risks.

  • What can I do to improve my endurance?

    There are a number of self-help techniques that you can try to delay your ejaculation. These may not always be successful, and may not deal with the root cause of the problem.

    It is important to discuss your problem with your partner. Many of the problems men face during sex come from pressure and anxiety; being completely open with your partner may relieve some of this. Similarly, you may feel less pressure if you place less emphasis on penetration during sex with your partner.

    Some men find that they will last longer during sex if they ejaculate more often. So, for example, masturbating more frequently might help with premature ejaculation. This can be combined with the ‘stop/start’ technique, mentioned above, which can help you develop some control over your orgasms.

    You can also deliberately reduce the sensitivity of the head of the penis by using condoms and/or anaesthetic sprays.

    If you think your premature ejaculation may be due to stress, consider trying exercises that will relax tension in your muscles. Focus on a group of muscles, contract them for several seconds, then relax. Start from your feet, and repeat the process with each muscle group until you reach your head.

  • What other factors contribute to Premature Ejaculation?

    Anxiety and stress can prevent you from relaxing or concentrating during sex, which can contribute to premature ejaculation. This can come from any area of your life, including your sex life itself. For example, men who occasionally suffer from erectile dysfunction may rush through sex for fear of losing an erection. Other medical conditions can bring about anxiety during sex as well, including heart disease.

  • Will treatment for Premature Ejaculation impact my Erectile Dysfunction medication?

    Dapoxetine can cause complications when used concurrently with erectile dysfunction medication. The combination can decrease blood pressure, making you feel light headed and possibly faint when standing. As such, the two should be used only with care and only if you have told your doctor. In case you do feel faint, start off by only combining these medications in a safe environment in which you will be able to sit and lie down comfortably.

    If you are taking Levitra or Viagra, you must wait 24 hours between your dapoxetine and your ED medication to reduce your risk of fainting. If you are taking Cialis, you should must wait 48 hours. 

Authored By:

A photo of  Andy Boysan

Andy Boysan


Published on: 29-05-2019

Last modified on: 29-05-2019

Andy is a co-founder, the superintendent pharmacist and director at The Independent Pharmacy.

Reviewed By:

A photo of  Scott McDougall

Scott McDougall


Reviewed on: 29-05-2019

Next review date: 29-05-2021

Scott is one of the two founders of The Independent Pharmacy. He is a registered pharmacist and the registered manager of our service with the CQC.

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