What is premature ejaculation?

In premature ejaculation, a man has an orgasm and ejaculates earlier during intercourse than he would like. It often happens very early during intercourse, with little stimulation. It can be a frustrating experience for both sexual partners.

Premature ejaculation is the most common sexual condition affecting men under the age of 40. It is said to affect about one in five men between the ages of 18 to 59. It is also likely that premature ejaculation will affect most men during some point in their life.

There is no medical time-limit that defines ejaculation as “premature,” but ejaculating within a minute from the beginning of intercourse is regarded as premature by many doctors. A man’s feeling as to what is premature for him is also a factor in diagnosis.

Who suffers from premature ejaculation?

Any male past puberty can suffer from premature ejaculation. It is most common in men 18 to 59.

What causes premature ejaculation?

The causes of premature ejaculation are not known. Premature ejaculation is more often caused by a psychological stressor such as anxiety or depression. It is much less common, but it can also have a physical cause such as:

  • An injury
  • An infection
  • A hormonal problem

Sometimes, premature ejaculation can occur with a new partner, due to nervousness. If a man has not had sex for a long time, he may also experience premature ejaculation when he becomes sexually active again. Many men learn to delay ejaculation as they become older and more skilled sexually.

How are the causes of premature ejaculation diagnosed?

If you or your partner has frequent premature ejaculation, or if premature ejaculation is causing you anxiety or depression affecting your relationship, you should see a urologist.

He or she will begin an exam by asking about your sexual experiences. You will be asked:

  • How long the problem has existed
  • Under what circumstances has it happened
  • Whether it occurs each time during intercourse

You will likely be asked several other sex-related questions, including whether premature ejaculation occurs when you masturbate. You will also be asked if you have trouble maintaining an erection. While the questions are personal, it is important that you answer your urologist honestly so he or she can best diagnose the source of your problem.

He or she will also ask about any other medical conditions you may have and any medications you are taking. This includes over-the-counter medications. You will also be asked about any alcohol or illegal drug use.

How is premature ejaculation treated?

If an underlying physical condition is determined to be the cause of your premature ejaculation, such as an infection, it may be treated with medication.

In the majority of causes of premature ejaculation, however, no underlying physical cause is found. If this is the case for you or your partner, premature ejaculation is usually treated first with behavior modification and/or counseling to help with emotional issues or stressors that may be contributing. If this is not effective, the next option is generally topical medications. These medications are applied to the penis before sex to reduce sensation and delay ejaculation. The next line of treatment, if needed, is oral medications such as antidepressants or erectile dysfunction medications.

Your healthcare provider will best be able to come up with a plan to treat your premature ejaculation. It is often easily treated with a few simple steps, so it is important to see your urologist or other doctor if you are experiencing premature ejaculation.


© Copyright 1995-2016 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 3/7/2016…#15627