Premature ejaculation myths
- Is premature ejaculation common?
- Will you always experience premature ejaculation?
- Causes of PE
- Does premature ejaculation start at a certain age?
- Is premature ejaculation linked to anxiety?
- Can you get pregnant from premature ejaculation?
- Can low testosterone cause premature ejaculation?
- Can stress cause premature ejaculation?
- Can Viagra help with premature ejaculation?
- Can EMLA cream be used for premature ejaculation?
Reviewed by our clinical team
Premature ejaculation (PE) is a condition that causes males to ejaculate (‘come’) too quickly when having sex or masturbating, usually within one minute. Premature ejaculation can cause feelings of shame and inadequacy, and unfortunately, this has led to a number of myths and incorrect assumptions around the topic.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common misconceptions, look at the truth behind premature ejaculation, and what you can do about it.
Is premature ejaculation common?
According to the British Association of Urinological Surgeons, although we don’t know the exact number, it’s thought that between 1 in 3, and 1 in 5 men (20-30%) experience premature ejaculation. Despite this, less than a quarter of men who experience premature ejaculation actually seek medical advice.
There are two different types of premature ejaculation, lifelong, or ‘primary’, and acquired, or ‘secondary’.
Lifelong ejaculation is usually present from the time you reach puberty and is more likely to be permanent. Acquired premature ejaculation often develops later and is more likely to be temporary.
Will you always experience premature ejaculation?
Whether or not your premature ejaculation is permanent is dependent on the cause.
If your premature ejaculation is being caused by an underlying physical problem, such as thyroid issues, then treating the condition will usually help. Similarly, if you are contributing to the problem with drug use, stopping the use of recreational drugs can often help. You should speak with your doctor to identify the best course of action.
If the problem is psychological, treatment can be more difficult. In these cases, counselling or hypnotherapy might be prescribed by your GP to help you overcome the underlying issue.
Your doctor might prescribe medication in the form of SSRIs, which delay ejaculation, or numbing cream. They might also offer you a range of self-help techniques, such as masturbating a few hours before sex, trying different positions, using thicker condoms, and breathing exercises.
Causes of PE
Psychological trauma around sexual activity can contribute to lifelong premature ejaculation. Examples include those raised in strict homes or situations where sex was seen as ‘dirty’ or ‘wrong’, as well as those who experienced sexual abuse.
Teenage boys can accidentally condition themselves to ejaculate quickly when masturbating and struggle to break this habit into adulthood. Depression, stress, anxiety, and performance anxiety might also contribute in later life.
Some physical conditions can trigger premature ejaculation, such as prostate and thyroid problems. Heavy recreational drug users may also develop acquired premature ejaculation.
Does premature ejaculation start at a certain age?
Premature ejaculation can happen at any age, although lifelong premature ejaculation manifests at puberty.
Is premature ejaculation linked to anxiety?
If you experience anxiety alongside premature ejaculation, the two might be linked. Your GP can investigate this further with you and identify whether or not anxiety is the cause.
Can you get pregnant from premature ejaculation?
Yes, women can get pregnant from premature ejaculation. Premature ejaculation is simply normal ejaculate (semen) that is released earlier than is typical.
Some people believe that you cannot become pregnant from pre-ejaculate, or ‘precum’ (which is different to premature ejaculation), but this isn't true. If you want to avoid pregnancy you should consider using birth control such as condoms or the pill.
Can low testosterone cause premature ejaculation?
There is little to no scientific evidence that low testosterone can cause premature ejaculation. As with testosterone and erectile dysfunction, it’s far more likely another factor is at play and that testosterone treatment will do very little to help.
Can stress cause premature ejaculation?
Stress, along with anxiety and depression, can contribute to both premature ejaculation and delayed ejaculation, both of which mean a man finds it difficult to ejaculate within a normal period of time. Stress can also be a factor in erectile dysfunction.
If you feel that you’re stressed and it might be contributing to your premature ejaculation, you should speak to your doctor about changes that can be made to reduce your stress levels.
You can find out more about how stress impacts us physically here.
Can Viagra help with premature ejaculation?
Viagra is a medication designed to help maintain erections in those experiencing erectile dysfunction. Like other erectile dysfunction medications such as Cialis, Viagra works by blocking the enzyme the body produces after sex to reduce erections, known as PDE-5.
As with testosterone treatment, there’s very little scientific evidence to suggest Viagra can help with premature ejaculation. In terms of medication, SSRIs - often used to treat depression - are far more effective at treating premature ejaculation.
If you do decide to pursue medication, talk to your doctor before starting it to ensure it’s right for you.
Can EMLA cream be used for premature ejaculation?
EMLA cream is a type of numbing (anaesthetic) cream that can be applied directly to the penis before sex, reducing sensation and potentially increasing the time between gaining an erection and ejaculating.
EMLA cream is reported to work well for many men. It is available to anyone over 18 years from a pharmacist, although anyone with a G6PD deficiency or certain blood disorders - such as methaemoglobinaemia - should avoid using it. You also shouldn't use EMLA cream if you have an open wound on your penis , or if you are taking certain tablets for an irregular heart rhythm.
Potential side effects include redness, slight swelling, tingling, or pale skin. Occasionally, it can cause mild burning or itching. If you experience discomfort or pain, you shouldn’t use any more cream and instead speak to a GP about potential alternatives.
How to use EMLA cream for premature ejaculation
Around 15-30 mins before sex, apply a small, pea-sized amount of EMLA cream to the underside of the penis near the frenulum (banjo string). It’s important to wipe away any excess and ensure it doesn’t get on or into your partner to prevent unwanted numbing.
Premature ejaculation, much like erectile dysfunction, can be very stressful and embarrassing for men, and can seriously impact both your sex life and mental wellbeing.
However, it is important to remember that you are not alone and there are treatments available. If you are struggling with premature ejaculation you should speak to a GP to find the right treatment for you.