Can premature ejaculation be controlled?

Premature ejaculation is where a man ejaculates (comes) too quickly during sexual intercourse. It is a common ejaculation problem.

What is premature?

A study involving 500 couples found the average time for ejaculation was about five-and-a-half minutes. However, this varies from person to person, and it is up to you and your partner to decide if you are happy with the time it takes you to ejaculate.

Regularly ejaculating within two minutes of entering your partner’s vagina is usually regarded as a medical problem that requires treatment.

Types of premature ejaculation

There are two types of premature ejaculation:

  • Primary premature ejaculation  where you have had premature ejaculation since becoming sexually active.
  • Secondary premature ejaculation (also known as acquired premature ejaculation)  where you develop premature ejaculation after having a history of normal ejaculation.

The causes of primary premature ejaculation are often psychological, such as having a traumatic sexual experience at an early age. Secondary premature ejaculation can be caused by both psychological and physical factors. Physical causes can include diabeteshigh blood pressure (hypertension) and drinking too much alcohol.

Treatment

If you have premature ejaculation that is caused by a physical condition, treating the underlying condition should help. Your GP can suggest possible treatment options.

Treating premature ejaculation caused by psychological factors can be more challenging. However, most men who persevere with treatment have successful outcomes.

Self help

There are a number of self-help techniques that you can try before seeking medical help. These include:

  • masturbating an hour or two before having sex
  • using a thick condom to help decrease sensation
  • taking a deep breath to briefly shut down the ejaculatory reflex (an automatic reflex of the body, during which ejaculation occurs)
  • having sex with your partner on top (to allow them to pull away when you are close to ejaculating)
  • taking breaks during sex and thinking about something boring

If you are in a long-term relationship, you may benefit from having couples therapy. You will be encouraged to explore issues that may be affecting your relationship and be given advice about how to resolve them. You may also be shown techniques that can help you "unlearn" the habit of premature ejaculation.

Medication

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are available if the above self-help techniques don’t improve the problem.

Although SSRIs are primarily used to treat depression, and one of their side effects is delaying ejaculation. SSRIs that may be prescribed for premature ejaculation include paroxetine, sertraline or fluoxetine. You will usually need to take the medication for a week or two before gaining the full effects.

Dapoxetine is an SSRI that has been specifically designed to treat premature ejaculation. However, it is not currently licensed for use in the UK and is not usually available on the NHS.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 23/04/2015

Next review due: 22/04/2017