What is premature ejaculation?

Premature ejaculation is when you have trouble controlling when you orgasm, and you ejaculate at a time that you or your partner feel is too fast or too early. This can cause relationship problems, anxiety and distress. While this can be an unpleasant condition, it’s highly common, and can usually be treated.

Male anatomy_Diagram
How soon is too soon?

Premature ejaculation is considered to be within about one minute of the penis entering your partner. But there’s no set time that’s ‘too soon’ – it’s more about the trouble premature ejaculation might be causing you and your relationship.

How common is premature ejaculation?

Premature ejaculation is the most common sexual problem to affect men, and it happens at all ages. It’s more common when you’re young, because ejaculation generally takes longer as you get older. When you’re younger, you might be less sexually experienced or feel less secure in sexual situations, leading to premature ejaculation.

There are two types of premature ejaculation.

‘Lifelong premature ejaculation’ is when you haven’t been in control of your ejaculation from the time of your first sexual experience. If left untreated, premature ejaculation can continue for the rest of your life.

‘Acquired premature ejaculation’ is when you’ve had a period of normal control over your orgasms before the premature ejaculation begins.

What causes premature ejaculation?

The causes of premature ejaculation can vary depending on whether it’s lifelong premature ejaculation or acquired premature ejaculation.

Lifelong premature ejaculation can be caused by a chemical imbalance in parts of the brain that control ejaculation. If you have lifelong premature ejaculation, you need less stimulation to achieve orgasm, meaning that ejaculation can happen sooner than you’d like. Psychological problems such as performance anxiety can contribute to lifelong premature ejaculation, but they’re not usually the only reason for the problem.

Acquired premature ejaculation is often caused by performance anxiety. The anxiety can be about sexual performance, fear of being caught in a sexual act, or anxiety around a particular situation, such as a new relationship. Some religious and cultural beliefs might also make you feel anxious about having sex.

Acquired premature ejaculation can also be caused by erectile dysfunction, a need for more intense sexual stimulation to get and maintain an erection, or anxiety about the erection problem itself.

Premature ejaculation doesn’t cause infertility.

Premature ejaculation can be difficult to talk about, but remember that it’s a common problem. If premature ejaculation is affecting your sex life, it can’t hurt to talk to your doctor about it.

Your doctor’s appointment

Questions to ask your doctor

  • What treatment options are available for premature ejaculation?

  • Will counselling or sex therapy help treat this condition?

Things to think about before your appointment

  • When did you first experience fast ejaculation?

  • How long do you last before climax after penetration?

  • What strategies do you use to delay ejaculation? Do you last longer with masturbation?

Email these questions to yourself to take into your doctor's appointment.

Resources

Ejaculation Problems Fact Sheet Image Tile

Fact sheet

Ejaculation problems fact sheet

Premature Ejaculation Fact Sheet Tile Image

Fact sheet

Premature ejaculation fact sheet

Ejaculatory disorders_CSG_Tile image

Clinical summary guide

Ejaculatory disorders clinical summary guide (#8)