What causes premature ejaculation?
Dr. Aysha Butt is the Medical Director of FROM MARS, and is a GP Partner at Woodcote NHS Medical Practice.
Premature ejaculation. Why does it happen?
Sex can be amazing, but not if it’s over too quickly or you finish before things really get started.
So, let’s talk about premature ejaculation. First off, it’s more common than you might think. Lots of men experience it. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. It can mess with your head and your relationship, but it can also be a sign that something else is up with your health.
WHAT IS PREMATURE EJACULATION?
Premature ejaculation (PE) is when a man ejaculates sooner during sex than he or his partner would like, usually before sex happens or within one minute of penetration. PE can be a lifelong issue, something you’ve always had, or it can be acquired, where you develop it after previously being able to last longer during sex.
WHO DOES PREMATURE EJACULATION AFFECT?
If you experience PE, you’re not alone. PE is the most common sexual issue men say they have, with around 30% of men experiencing it. PE can affect all men, but it’s most common in men under 35 years old, and in men who have stressful relationships, or who have recently started a new relationship.
WHAT CAUSES PREMATURE EJACULATION?
The exact cause of PE isn’t known for sure. People used to think it was caused by psychological issues, but today we know it’s more complicated than that. We know that a mixture of psychological and physical causes can be involved, both the mind and the body. Here are some of the potential causes:
PSYCHOLOGICAL CAUSES OF PREMATURE EJACULATION
WORRYING ABOUT ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
If you’re worried you won’t be able to maintain an erection, it may make you rush to ejaculate as fast as you can before you start to lose it.
OTHER FORMS OF STRESS AND ANXIETY
Other forms of anxiety, not just about losing your erection, are also thought to be related to PE. Worrying about your sexual performance, other forms of stress in your life, and being anxious about PE itself may even cause PE to happen.
Emotional problems between you and your partner, particularly conflict, may cause or contribute to PE. If your partner isn’t supportive about PE for instance, it can make you more anxious, and make your PE worse.
MASTURBATING TOO QUICKLY
If you come quickly through masturbation, you may become used to ejaculating soon after any other sort of sexual stimulation begins. Like you’ve trained yourself to ejaculate quickly.
GUILT ABOUT SEX
Deep-seated feelings of guilt about sex may make you finish as fast as possible, even if you don’t want to.
PHYSICAL CAUSES OF PREMATURE EJACULATION
The following are all physical premature ejaculation causes. They can all cause PE in the first place or make it worse:
- Hypersensitivity of the skin on the penis
- High or low hormone levels
- Abnormal levels of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters, such as serotonin
- Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
- Taking recreational drugs
- High blood pressure
- Thyroid problems
- Prostate disease
- Multiple sclerosis
IS PREMATURE EJACULATION CURABLE?
There is no perfect cure for PE, but there are behaviours and treatments you can take to help, from counselling to trying PE-specific condoms, to meds like Priligy.
IS PREMATURE EJACULATION PERMANENT?
It depends what’s causing the PE, but for many men, PE is treatable using medications and behavioural fixes. Even men who’ve experienced PE for years can see improvements by using some of the suggested treatments below.
HOW TO TREAT PREMATURE EJACULATION?
As PE has a range of causes, different treatments will be effective for different men. You may have to experiment to find the right ones for you.
WHEN TO SEE YOUR DOCTOR
As PE can be caused by some serious physical conditions like diabetes, prostate disease, and multiple sclerosis, you should see your doctor to be checked for any underlying health condition.
TRY BEHAVIOURAL TREATMENTS FOR PREMATURE EJACULATION
Behavioural treatments are usually straightforward and cheap (often free), and can be surprisingly effective. Try:
- Masturbating an hour or two before you have sex. It’s a simple idea, but some men find they last longer if they’ve already ejaculated.
- Masturbating for longer and prolonging how long it takes you to orgasm. When you get close, stop and wait for the sensations to decrease in intensity, then start masturbating again. You may be able to train yourself to last longer before you ejaculate.
- Using condoms. Some men say they make them less sensitive, and some condoms even contain numbing agents that may help.
- Using lubricant. More lubricant means less friction, which may help you last longer.
- Kegel exercises. Research has shown that doing regular Kegel exercises can help some men last longer.
- Focussing more on other aspects of sex. Spend more time on foreplay and oral sex to take the emphasis off penetration, keeping things fun and stress-free.
TRY PREMATURE EJACULATION MEDICATION
One of the most effective treatments for PE is Priligy. It’s taken as a tablet around one to three hours before you have sex, and it works by temporarily increasing serotonin levels in your brain (serotonin is a messenger chemical that affects how your body works). This increase in serotonin prolongs the time it takes for you to ejaculate and can increase your control over ejaculation. Because it can be taken before sex, and its effects are short-lasting, Priligy can be an effective and convenient answer to PE.
Premature ejaculation can feel like the end of the world. It can make you feel powerless, frustrated, and ashamed. You might feel lonely, like you’re the only man who has it. But don’t. PE is common and it’s treatable.