Premature Ejaculation

What is it?

The term “premature” implies that something happens too soon. Premature ejaculation is defined as a male sexual climax/orgasm that happens before a man wants it to happen or too quickly during intercourse to satisfy his partner.

Most couples enjoy the sensations of intercourse, but it usually ends when the man ‘comes’ or ejaculates. Therefore, if a man ejaculates quite quickly, either he or his partner may be disappointed that the intercourse did not last longer. This is the most frequently encountered sexual complaint of men and couples. It is estimated to occur in 30% of all men. (C-Health)

What causes premature ejaculation?

In many cases premature ejaculation is a matter of perception, or how we think about sex, rather than the result of a physical or medical problem. We all learn the idea that sex equals intercourse. Nobody actually sits us down and teaches us this but the culture we live in – movies, books, jokes, etc. – reinforces the message that if a person hasn’t had intercourse, they haven’t really had sex. (Remember Bill Clinton?)

There are two physical realities that we need to think about when discussing premature ejaculation:

  • The first reality is that a man’s normal physical response is to experience climax and, therefore, ejaculate 2 - 3 minutes after penetrating the vagina. The media may glorify or exaggerate the amount of time the “average” bout of intercourse lasts. Movies or books may make it sound like men can last for hours when, in reality, most men can only last for a few minutes once intercourse begins.

  • The second reality is that a woman’s normal physical response is to build to a climax (orgasm/come) about 12 – 14 minutes after intercourse begins. As well, most women don’t orgasm from intercourse alone, especially if intercourse involves only penetration of the vagina by the penis. A woman may need other stimulation (kissing/touching body including the clitoris) in order to have an orgasm. In fact, some women can more easily climax from clitoral stimulation during masturbation than from intercourse.

The truth is that what many people consider premature ejaculation is simply a normal part of the male sexual response. It is most common in adolescents, young adults, and men who don’t have a lot of sexual knowledge about normal male and female sexual response and/or a lack of sexual experience.

There are many reasons why a man may ejaculate before he is ready to or wanting to. As is the cause with erectile dysfunction, the underlying causes for premature ejaculation can be both psychological and physical. Some of them include:

  • Age - Teenage men or younger adults may find that they ejaculate quite quickly. Usually, as a man ages, he is able to prolong his erections and predict when he will ejaculate. Remember, although a younger man may ejaculate quite quickly, he will usually be able to have another erection in a relatively short time. If he is able to talk to his partner about this, they can plan to have one quick sexual release followed by a longer session of sex play that allows them both to experience orgasm.
  • Excitement level - If a man has not masturbated or had intercourse for a while he may be so excited that he ejaculates quickly. The “problem” may go away if he masturbates more often or when he gets used to having a regular sexual partner.
  • Condom use - Usually condoms reduce the sensitivity of a man’s penis and his erection lasts longer when he wears one. If he starts having intercourse without a condom, he may find that he reaches orgasm more quickly. Sometimes this changes once he gets used to intercourse without a condom.
  • A new sexual partner or situation - New experiences can trigger anxiety related premature ejaculation. This can occur in conjunction with erectile dysfunction or as a side effect of it.
  • Medical reasons - For a small percentage of men, premature ejaculation may be the sign of a medical problem that can be treated with medication.
  • Drug use - Some recreational and medically prescribed drugs cause a man to ejaculate more quickly than usual.
  • Emotional concerns - Unresolved emotional concerns or relationship problems can affect a man’s sexual response. Feelings such as fear, guilt or anxiety can result in both erectile dysfunction and/or premature ejaculation.
  • A man's nature - Some men can sustain erections for a long time, some cannot. Ejaculating quickly may be something a man cannot control – just like body shape or eye colour etc.

(Sources: MedlinePlus, Canadian Men's Clinic)