Premature Ejaculation Doesn't Discriminate
The words "premature ejaculation" might elicit either a snicker or a sense of embarrassment. After all, men take pride in their sexual stamina and prowess.
Premature ejaculation (PE) is relatively self-explanatory, but to be clear, it is the term for when a man ejaculates sooner than he or his partner would like. But premature ejaculation isn't reserved for the inexperienced. Estimates indicate about one-third of all men have experienced premature ejaculation at some point in their lives.
While PE may be the subject of jokes, its long-term effects have been well-chronicled. Men who regularly ejaculate prematurely face struggles with depression, psychogenic erectile dysfunction (ED), interpersonal relationships, self-image, decreased sexual pleasure and a drop in sexual desire.
Causes of premature ejaculation
The circumstances of sexual performance are never a one-size-fits-all situation. A number of factors can affect ejaculatory function in the bedroom:
- Mismanaged or unrealistic sexual expectations
- Self-esteem issues
- Relationship troubles
- Performance anxiety
- Hormonal imbalances
- Erectile dysfunction
- A penis that is oversensitive to stimulation
Just as the causes of PE can vary widely, so do the treatment options. Treatment for lifelong PE—that which occurs all or nearly all of the time—can include behavioral therapy, numbing creams and medications.
Interestingly, age is nowhere to be found among the causes of PE. The Urology Care Foundation points out that PE can happen to men of any age. However, aging can cause changes in erections (firmness, duration) and ejaculation (shorter anticipation time) that may lead an older man to ejaculate sooner. But there is no evidence to suggest that older men or younger men struggle more with premature ejaculation. Similarly, even men who have had multiple sexual partners in the past with no issue can experience PE if their life circumstances change.
The effects of long-term PE
Men who experience PE face a variety of other issues as a result. While the "symptoms" of PE are relatively straightforward—ejaculating early—the stress, stigma, guilt and shame associated with it can leave a lasting impact on men who experience it.
Studies show that PE negatively affects men and their relationships, adversely altering their psychological state and quality of life. Men who frequently experience PE can experience lower self-esteem, increased anxiety and depression and anxiety or discomfort in sexual situations.
Yet the definition of PE is vague, and the condition is often difficult to diagnose because each man's experience is subjective. Other studies have been conducted to challenge theories about the pathological nature of PE or whether it simply might be the result of social conditioning about unrealistic sexual expectations. Clinical trials for PE that use flawed methodologies may make it even more difficult for men to accurately and comfortably discuss the issue.
While treatments for erectile dysfunction are more readily discussed, many men may still think PE is embarrassing and shameful when, in actuality, it is widespread and treatable.
Potential treatments for PE
Of course, any attempted treatments for frequent PE should be discussed with a doctor, but thankfully, many options are available. Behavioral treatments may help make sexual situations less anxiety-inducing. These include masturbating two hours before a sexual encounter to delay ejaculation or temporarily abstaining from penetrative sex and engaging in other sexual activities to build comfort and remove the pressure.
Pelvic floor exercises and sexual techniques such as the "start-stop" method and the "squeeze" can delay ejaculation during intercourse. Using a condom, if you aren't already, might also help delay ejaculation because it lessens the sensitivity of the penis, or thinking about something else during sex to distract yourself from arousal is also a potentially viable option.
Premature ejaculation is one of the most sensitive, highly stigmatized issues a man can face in his sex life, but it doesn't have to be. By understanding that this is a common problem and, more important, that you can prevent it, you can help to remove that stigma. Above all, if you're in a long-term relationship and face sexual issues, communicating honestly with your partner should be the first step toward tackling this condition head-on.