• 401.489.5513
  • 250 Main St #1 Pawtucket, RI 02860
  • Tuesday-Friday: 12 to 6pm & by appointment

Q&A: Premature Ejaculation

April 04, 2013
G. Starr Vidal, Contributor for The CSPH

man with hatEach week, The CSPH answers questions asked on our site and through social media outlets like Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.  This week, we’ll address two very similar questions from our followers:

I’m uncircumcised and have a tendency to ejaculate pretty fast during sex and masturbation. What techniques can I do to fix this embarrassing problem?

My boyfriend is in his early 30’s and has a bit of a problem with premature ejaculation. As far as I know it has always been an issue. He tries really hard to last longer and is extremely attentive in every other way, but I really enjoy penetration and I wish he could last more than just a minute or two. Is there anything I/we/he can do?

Premature ejaculation is a sticky issue to tackle, in part because it’s a condition that is quite nuanced in terms of cause and treatment.  While it is colloquially referred to as simply climaxing earlier than the person and/or their partner desires, on a clinical level, the definition is much more specific.  In 2008, the International Society for Sexual Medicine issued the first official definition of premature ejaculation:

Premature ejaculation is a male sexual dysfunction characterized by ejaculation which always or nearly always occurs prior to or within about one minute of vaginal penetration; and, inability to delay ejaculation on all or nearly all vaginal penetrations; and, negative personal consequences, such as distress, bother, frustration, and/or the avoidance of sexual intimacy.

With this admittedly heterosexual-biased definition in mind, it’s important to realize two things.  First and foremost, it’s likely that a significant number of individuals with concerns over premature ejaculation do not clinically have the condition.  Second, regardless of the amount of time prior to ejaculation and the circumstances surrounding it, a key component to these situations is that the person orgasms earlier than they and/or their partner desires.  This may result in feelings of dissatisfaction and insecurity, which, medical diagnosis or not, are wholly legitimate and deserving of discussion.

Furthermore, while premature ejaculation as it is commonly understood—orgasming before one wants—may be an embarrassing experience for many, it’s actually quite common.  In fact, according to one study, 20-30% of men at any given time experience premature ejaculation.  Moreover, one critical aspect of premature ejaculation is that, for most individuals, it is a temporary condition that is influenced by a number of factors, including but not limited to the penis-owner’s mental health, feelings of nervousness about the sexual encounter, having a new sexual partner, and familiarity with the sexual response cycle as it is experienced by the body.  With treatment, 80 to 90% of penis-owners develop better control over their ejaculation timing.

Due to the variety of factors that influence a person’s ejaculation timing, there is no official “cure” for premature ejaculation.  That said, there are three commonly used techniques to manage it: the old-fashioned “think about baseball” method, stopping and starting, and the “squeeze” method.

The “think about baseball” suggestion is pretty self-explanatory: it calls for the penis-owner to simply distract themselves mentally while engaging in sexual activity.  Some people experience difficulty controlling their orgasms due to high levels of excitement and arousal, so being less focused and immersed in the sexual experience can help mitigate being overwhelmed.  Of course, not all individuals feel comfortable or desirous of being disengaged during what is to some an intimate act, so this can be difficult.  In this case, instead of thinking about baseball or the weather, you can try hyperfocusing, for example on your partner’s eyes, hair, the curve of their body, etc.—anything but the physical sensations of pleasure themselves.

While the distraction method may be the one most popularized in the media, the stop-and-start technique is one I highly endorse as it encourages individuals to become more familiar with the way the body experiences the sexual response cycle.  The method itself is performed when the penis-owner engages in sexual activity until the brink of orgasm, pauses until the feeling of impending climax passes, and then starts up again.  This can help draw out the length of time of sexual activity, not only for exclusively penetrative intercourse, but also for allowing non-penile playtime as the penis-owner cools down.  Additionally, this process of stopping and starting can be fun as a deliberate method of orgasm denial, and can even sometimes make the eventual orgasm stronger.

Finally, the “squeeze” method, also known as the “Masters and Johnson’s Squeeze Method,” calls for firm pressure to be applied directly below the head of the penis when the penis-owner notices that orgasm is imminent.  The idea behind the squeeze method is to apply pressure to the urethra for 10-20 seconds and temporarily reduce the strength of the erection by interrupting blood flow.  After the squeeze is released, wait another thirty seconds before resuming sexual stimulation of the penis.  Repeat this process every time the penis-owner feels they’re becoming too overheated too soon, until the individual feels ready to orgasm.  This technique can be done by any party in sexual play, not just the penis-owner, so it allows a certain level of shared experience, which some may enjoy and appreciate.

Penis-owners can also attempt to “train” themselves to last longer during sex by changing their masturbation habits.  Instead of a wham-bam-thank-you-hand approach, individuals can deliberately take their time masturbating so that they become more accustomed to drawing out their pleasure.  Experimenting with one’s masturbation habits can also benefit the individual by helping them recognize the sensations and bodily reactions signaling an imminent orgasm, potentially aiding usage of the stop-and-start technique if desired.  Incorporating masturbation sleeves such as the Fantastic by HEPS into self-love can also be helpful in getting the body accustomed to heightened sexual sensation.

Other ways individuals with penises can manage premature ejaculation are by consistently using condoms (but don’t double up!), masturbating prior to sexual activity, topical numbing creams, and should your medical care provider believe this to be an appropriate measure, taking antidepressants, which may affect not only ejaculation time but also one’s libido.

A note about desensitizing creams: The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health generally doesn’t endorse the use of numbing creams during sexual activity, as they can mask pain and therefore be dangerous, especially for use during anal sex.  However, for purposes of premature ejaculation, topical desensitizing agents can be used directly on the penis when a condom is used; otherwise, the cream may also numb the genitals/mouth/etc. of one’s sexual partner.  Such agents should also not be used if there is a wound on your penis, as this can result in irritation.  Finally, it’s important to note that while numbing lubes can help mitigate premature ejaculations, sexual pleasure may also be affected.  If you are interested in safely using a desensitizing cream, I strongly recommend that you visit your primary care provider to discuss your options.

As I previously stated, for many penis-owners, premature ejaculation is a temporary issue.  Chronic premature ejaculation, however, may be indicative of anxiety, depression, or another mental health issue that can be addressed by visiting a mental health professional.  Sexuality consultants and sex therapists in particular may be useful in helping the patient navigate their feelings regarding sex, process their experiences, and even learn new techniques to manage not only the premature ejaculation directly but also any potential personal distress and relationship discord that can occur as a result of this condition.

Furthermore, chronic premature ejaculation can be influenced by biological factors, such as abnormal hormone levels.  For this reason, should you consistently have issues with your climax timing, I recommend that you visit your local health care provider.

Management techniques aside, my perspective on premature ejaculation is that it encourages individuals and couples to “think outside the box” in regards to their sexual play.  Our society tends to focus on penis-in-vagina (PiV) intercourse as the pinnacle of sexual activity, when in fact there is a wide variety of play that can be explored for mutual pleasure.  Indeed, it’s important to keep in mind that just because the penis-owner orgasms, it doesn’t mean the sex has to stop!  Oral and manual stimulation are great options to incorporate into sexy time, before and after orgasm.

Of course, while PiV sex isn’t the be-all end-all of sexual activity, there are individuals for whom penetrative sex is important and perhaps even crucial to sexual enjoyment.  For these individuals in particular, introducing sexual aids or toys into play can help fill in the gaps, so to speak.  For example, dildos and vibrators can give the vagina-owner the stimulation they require, and harnesses for penis-owners allow these toys to be used in a way that simulates penetrative sexual activity.  Cock rings, which help maintain erections and delay ejaculation, are another great toy option.

When all is said and done, it’s important to note that premature ejaculation affects not only individuals, but also romantic and sexual relationships.  For this reason, communication, mutual respect, and an openness to navigate options for sexual activity are crucial.  Furthermore, as common as this issue is, I implore penis-owners to try not to worry or stress about their ejaculation timing, as this can become a self-fulfilling cycle in which anxiety influences orgasming too quickly.  Partners of those with premature ejaculation should understand the shame and embarrassment that can occur as a result of the condition, and act accordingly, which is to say, with a degree of patience and empathy.

Comments are closed.