Premature ejaculation is no fun - for men or their partners. If you feel like you’re constantly finishing way before your partner is satisfied, you’re not alone. Studies show premature ejaculation affects 30-40% of men, making it one of the most common sexual dysfunctions.
So what causes men to reach orgasm too quickly during sex? There are a number of physical, psychological, and medical factors that can contribute to premature ejaculation. Read on to learn what makes some men pop early, plus ways you can treat the issue.
What Exactly is Premature Ejaculation?
Premature ejaculation occurs when a man reaches orgasm and ejaculates sooner than desired during sexual intercourse. For doctors to diagnose premature ejaculation, the man must nearly always ejaculate within one minute of penetration or before. He also lacks the ability to delay ejaculation during intercourse.
Of course, sometimes finishing quickly is situational. We all have times where we’re extra excited or haven’t gotten off in a while, causing a faster finish. But if you consistently reach orgasm too quickly - like in less than 2 minutes - you likely have premature ejaculation.
Premature ejaculation can be frustrating, embarrassing, and detrimental to your relationships and self-esteem. But you don’t have to suffer in silence. Understanding the root causes and effective treatments can help you gain control in the bedroom.
Physical and Chemical Factors That Contribute to Premature Ejaculation
A number of physical and chemical factors can make men prone to reaching orgasm too quickly. Let’s explore some of the main physical culprits of premature ejaculation:
An Overly Sensitive Penis
Some men simply have a very sensitive penis. The slightest sensations, licks, or thrusts can push you over the edge.
If your penis has an abundance of sensory receptors, it’s wired to feel pleasure very intensely. Too much stimulation too soon can lead to premature ejaculation.
Genetics play a role in how sensitive your penis is. But desensitizing creams or sprays can help dampen sensation so you don’t peak too fast.
The hormones testosterone, serotonin, oxytocin, prolactin, and others regulate sexual desire and function. When these hormones are out of balance, it can speed up ejaculation.
For example, high testosterone levels increase sexual sensitivity and arousal. If your testosterone is naturally high or artificially elevated from steroids, you may struggle with premature ejaculation.
Low serotonin is also linked to PE. Serotonin helps delay ejaculation. Low levels can make it hard to control orgasm timing.
A doctor can test your hormone levels and prescribe medications to correct imbalances contributing to rapid ejaculation.
Prostate Inflammation or Infection
Inflammation and infections in the prostate gland or urethra can make men more prone to premature ejaculation. The swelling and irritation make the prostate extremely sensitive to stimulation.
Common causes of prostate inflammation include:
- Urinary tract infections
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Recent prostate biopsy or surgery
Antibiotics can clear up underlying infections causing prostate inflammation. Your doctor may also recommend OTC or prescription drugs to reduce swelling and sensitivity.
Like many aspects of sexual function, premature ejaculation can run in families. If your father or close male relatives struggled with rapid ejaculation, you may have inherited that tendency.
Researchers believe certain genetic mutations affect ejaculatory control. If your dad popped off quick, there’s a chance you inherited sensitivity levels or reflexes that make early ejaculation more likely.
While you can’t change inherited traits, you can control their effects through medications, behavioral techniques, and other PE treatments.
Psychological and Emotional Contributors to Premature Ejaculation
For many men, early ejaculation is less about physical factors and more related to mental and emotional ones. Let’s look at some of the main psychological causes of premature ejaculation:
Anxiety About Sexual Performance
Anxiety is one of the biggest psychological culprits of premature ejaculation. If you feel nervous or self-conscious during sex, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode. Anxiety activates the sympathetic nervous system and triggers the ejaculation reflex.
First-time sex, performance anxiety, and general stress around intimacy can all hasten ejaculation. Simply worrying you’ll finish too soon can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Relaxation exercises and techniques to lower anxiety can help you stay present and controlled during sex. Therapy also helps tackle anxiety-related PE.
Depression and premature ejaculation often go hand-in-hand. The same hormones and chemicals linked to mood - like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin - also regulate ejaculation.
When these neurochemicals fall out of balance from depression, it can impair ejaculatory control. Antidepressants like SSRIs are even used to treat premature ejaculation.
If depression is contributing to your early ejaculation, medication and counseling can improve both conditions.
Guilt Around Sex
How you feel about sex itself also influences tendency to reach orgasm quickly. If you grew up with cultural or religious beliefs that frame sex as “bad” or “taboo”, you may subconsciously want to finish quickly. Early ejaculation can be the body’s way of hurrying through an act you feel shameful about.
Examining and resolving your feelings about sex through counseling helps address guilt-related PE.
The state of your relationship can also impact ejaculation timing. Lack of emotional intimacy, distrust, and other issues create barriers that prevent men from relaxing during sex.
If you don’t feel entirely comfortable with your partner, you’re more likely to ejaculate prematurely. It’s your body’s way of rushing through sex with someone you don’t connect with.
Working on communication, expressing your needs, and fostering intimacy can lengthen ejaculatory latency.
Erectile Dysfunction Concerns
Fear of losing your erection can also precipitate premature ejaculation. Men anxious about their erectile function may subconsciously rush to ejaculate as quickly as possible - just in case their erection wanes.
It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: worrying about losing your boner makes you rush to finish, impairing erectile function over time.
Addressing the root causes of erectile dysfunction through medications, devices, or therapy helps delay ejaculation.
Medical Causes of Premature Ejaculation
In some cases, underlying medical conditions lead to premature ejaculation by increasing sensitivity or reflex excitability. Common medical culprits include:
- Diabetes - Poor blood sugar control can damage nerves that help delay ejaculation.
- Obesity - Excess fat alters hormone levels, negatively impacting sexual function.
- Metabolic syndrome - Chronic conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance increase PE risk.
- Neurological disorders - Conditions like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s can make reaching orgasm faster.
- Prostate surgery - Prostate removal or biopsy procedures may damage ejaculatory nerves.
- Spinal cord injuries - PE is common after injuries impacting the lumbar sympathetic ganglia nerves.
- Hyperthyroidism - Overactive thyroid function speeds up ejaculation.
Doctors can check for and treat any medical conditions contributing to premature ejaculation. In some cases, simply improving general health and getting conditions under control restores normal ejaculation timing.
Behavioral Treatments for Premature Ejaculation
For many men, premature ejaculation improves significantly through behavioral techniques and exercises practiced during masturbation or sex. Behavioral treatments empower men to gain voluntary control over ejaculation.
Let’s look at two of the most effective behavioral approaches to treating PE:
The Start-Stop Method
This technique involves stimulating the penis until you feel almost ready to ejaculate - then stopping all stimulation before reaching the point of no return. Once the urgency subsides, start again and repeat.
Over time, the start-stop method retrains your body to delay ejaculation and recognize the signs before reaching the precipice. Starting and stopping several times per masturbation session increases ejaculatory stamina.
During sex, take pauses by pulling out or switching positions when you’re close to the edge. With practice, you can recognize the “point of no return” earlier and earlier.
The Squeeze Method
When using the squeeze method, stimulate yourself solo or with a partner until nearing orgasm. Right before the point of no return, firmly squeeze the tip of the penis for 10-20 seconds. This stops the ejaculation reflex.
Once the sensation passes, resume stimulation and repeat the squeezing process a few times before allowing yourself to climax.
This trains the pelvic floor muscles to control ejaculation. It also gets you familiar with the feeling right before “go time” so you can delay future orgasms.
Medications That Delay Ejaculation
If behavioral techniques alone don’t solve premature ejaculation, doctors may prescribe medications to help. Let’s look at some of the most common drugs used to treat PE:
Topical Anesthetic Creams and Sprays
Applying desensitizing products like lidocaine or prilocaine cream, ointment, or spray to the penis before sex can help delay orgasm. By slightly numbing sensation, these topical anesthetics reduce penile sensitivity so stimulation doesn’t push you over the edge too quickly.
When using topical treatments, you’ll still feel pleasurable sensations - but not so intensely that you ejaculate prematurely. Just don’t overdo application, or it can impact erection quality.
Oral medications like sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra) treat erectile dysfunction, but also help delay ejaculation.
PDE5 inhibitors like the “blue pill” relax smooth muscles around blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the penis. They help minimize erectile anxiety and allow men to thrust for longer before orgasming.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
Antidepressants like paroxetine, sertraline, fluoxetine, and dapoxetine are sometimes prescribed off-label to treat premature ejaculation.
SSRIs like Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil boost serotonin levels, which regulates the ejaculation reflex. They may also reduce sensitivity of the penis.
However, SSRIs have side effects and may not be right for all men. Work with your doctor to see if antidepressants are an appropriate PE treatment for you.
Older antidepressants like clomipramine also delay ejaculation, but have more side effects. Tricyclics are usually only prescribed if SSRIs aren’t effective or well-tolerated.
When to Seek Medical Treatment for Premature Ejaculation
Occasional early ejaculation during sex is common and not necessarily cause for concern. We all have off days or particularly steamy encounters that make it hard to last long.
However, if you consistently ejaculate within one minute of sex or find it extremely difficult to delay orgasm and satisfy your partner, talk to your doctor.
See a urologist or sexual health expert if:
- You nearly always ejaculate after less than 1 minute of penetrative sex.
- You’re unable to delay ejaculation during self-stimulation or intercourse.
- Premature ejaculation is straining your relationship or causing distress.
- Over-the-counter remedies and behavioral techniques haven’t helped.
Don’t hesitate to get medical input if premature ejaculation is an ongoing issue. You deserve satisfying sex and a healthy relationship.
The Takeaway: Don’t Suffer in Silence With Premature Ejaculation
If you frequently pop off too soon before your partner climaxes, you’re certainly not alone. Premature ejaculation is exceedingly common, but treatable.
Physical sensitivities, chemical imbalances, emotional hangups, and medical conditions can all play into early ejaculation. There are also effective medical and behavioral solutions.
The first step is speaking with your doctor. They can pinpoint any underlying causes and suggest personalized treatment approaches. You may also consider seeing a sex therapist to address any mental or emotional barriers.
With patience and consistency applying the techniques, premature ejaculation can often be overcome or at least better managed. Don’t remain frustrated and self-conscious. Take back control in the bedroom!