What can cause premature, delayed or dry orgasms?

Ejaculation problems in men can have physical or psychological causes, including:

  • medications, such as some antidepressants (delayed orgasm)
  • alcohol misuse (delayed or rapid orgasm or retrograde ejaculation)
  • inflammation of the prostate (rapid orgasm)
  • stress (rapid orgasm)
  • anxiety (rapid orgasm)
  • a previous traumatic sexual experience (rapid orgasm)
  • poor health (rapid orgasm)
  • obesity (rapid orgasm)
  • thyroid hormone disorders (rapid orgasm)

Ejaculation is when semen is squirted out of the penis during an orgasm, which is the pleasurable feeling usually associated with ejaculation.

What are ejaculation problems?

Ejaculation problems include:

  • premature ejaculation
  • delayed ejaculation
  • retrograde ejaculation

Premature ejaculation

Premature ejaculation is the most common ejaculation problem. It is when a man ejaculates, or comes, sooner than he'd like to. An estimated 40% of men in England will experience at least one episode of premature ejaculation.

Delayed ejaculation

Delayed ejaculation, also called retarded ejaculation, is when a man repeatedly experiences delay in ejaculating or is unable to ejaculate. Delayed ejaculation is less common than premature ejaculation.

An estimated 3-4% of men will experience at least one episode of retarded ejaculation. Lifelong delayed ejaculation is less common and affects an estimated 1 in 1,000 men.

Retrograde ejaculation

Retrograde ejaculation is a rarer problem. During retrograde ejaculation, semen travels back into the bladder, rather than being squirted out of the penis.

Retrograde ejaculation can happen as a result of certain types of surgery, such as prostate surgery, or can occur in men with conditions that can damage the nerves, such as diabetes, alcohol abuse or multiple sclerosis.

Where to get help with ejaculation problems

If you have ejaculation problems, see your GP. They can check for any physical causes and give you advice about self-help techniques and treatments that may help. You can also contact the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), or go to your local sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic.

A sex therapist may be able to help if the cause is psychological. Your GP can refer you to a therapist, although sex therapy is not available on the NHS in all areas. You can also see a therapist privately, which you'll have to pay for. Look for a therapist who is a member of the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT). For more information, see What does a sex therapist do?

Read more information about ejaculation problems and erectile dysfunction (impotence).

Read more answers to questions about sexual health.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 27/11/2014

Next review due: 30/05/2017