Premature ejaculation (PE) is when a man’s orgasm happens shortly before or after penetration. Although there is no precise ‘time limit’ that defines PE, depending on different places and cultures, it mostly means lasting less than two minutes. Although PE is more common in men under 35, it generally happens when starting a new relationship. It can also occur as a result of a new experience or a stressful situation within the relationship when there are tensions and conflict.
Unfortunately, the causes of PE are not fully understood. This is partly due to a lack of research data but also because of the underlying psychological factors, which make it difficult to identify a clear cause. It has been suggestedthat it could be due to psychological causes and/or oversensitive nerves at the end of the penis. In general therefore, it seems that a combination of different techniques and treatments works best for men suffering from PE. It is useful to understand that:
• Some men may have conditioned themselves to ejaculate quickly in their adolescence (to avoid getting caught)
• Some men may have become overly anxious with sex, because of a childhood trauma related to sex
• There may be a cultural aspect too, especially if sex is considered inappropriate or shameful
• Stress and depression are common causes of PE as are relationship issues, conflict and performance-related anxiety
• An oversensitivity of the skin close to the tip of the penis – in which case numbing creams or gels can help.
The impact of relationship issues
Among the relationship issues that can give rise to PE are:
• Difference in a couple’s sexual needs
• Fear of high expectations
• Anxiety concerning sexual satisfaction
• Lack of communication
Some men may also feel overwhelmed by what they consider sexually demanding partners and a lack of preparation for sexual intercourse.
In turn, PE can easily lead to relationship issues. According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine 79% of women reported a low sex drive and sexual dissatisfaction when they were with a man who suffered with PE. However, it wasn’t the short time that having sex took, it was lack of consideration. Nearly half of women said the real problem was that their partners weren’t paying attention to their needs (like kissing and caressing) and instead were more focused on boosting their performance or duration.
This research came from a study of over 1,400 women in three different countries (Italy, South Korea and Mexico). The women were asked to fill out questionnaires about their sexual and relationship satisfaction with men who climaxed too quickly (defined in this study as under two minutes). While the researchers only got the female point of view, these women perceived their partners to be focusing less on them and more on going the distance. They felt as though the men were so focused on holding out that they were skimping on the important stuff – like actually pleasing their partner.
Interestingly, PE can even affect relationship satisfaction. 40% of participants reported feeling more satisfied as a couple if the man didn’t have this problem and about 20% of women said PE was a major issue in a relationship. Overall women in a relationship with a man who suffered from PE were much more likely to want a separation.
“As with erectile dysfunction, women will need to adopt a gentle approach to talk about PE”, says sex expert Debby Herbenick Ph.D., author of Sex Made Easy: Your Awkward Questions Answered – For Better, Smarter, Amazing Sex.
Herbenick suggests that you start by complimenting his bedroom skills, and slowly suggest some ways to make sex better for both of you – like extending oral sex on you or bringing him to the brink of an orgasm during masturbation and cooling off for a bit. You can also try condoms designed to reduce sensation to the penis and help him last a few more minutes.
Looking at treatments for an answer
Which treatment might be beneficial for you depends on what causes PE in your case. Priligy, available in tablet form with a prescription, is often used to help men with PE. It was originally developed as an anti-depressant but has been found to be effective in relieving the symptoms of PE.
The other possible treatment for PE is an anaesthetic cream that simply numbs the penis thus reducing sensitivity and prolonging your orgasm.
There is no need to suffer alone. The best way to handle sexual health matters, such as PE, is to work at it together. It needs sensitive discussion and a combined approach for a satisfactory outcome.