Advice on How to Delay Ejaculation

Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
18th October 2021

In 30 seconds

Wondering how to delay ejaculation? There are a few options out there, ranging from self-help techniques like breathing practices and wearing a thicker condom to medicinal treatments.

When a man ejaculates more quickly during sex than he or his partner would like, it’s known as Premature Ejaculation (PE). It’s very common and often totally normal. However, if it happens every time, it may result from psychological factors, such as anxiety or childhood trauma, or excessive alcohol consumption, illness, or relationship problems.

Many men believe that they should last longer than they do. The average time before men ejaculate during sex is about 5 minutes.

The Most Common Sexual Dysfunction?

Premature Ejaculation (PE) is a problem that affects lots of men at some point during their lives. According to one estimate, as many as 40% of us experience it – and it may be the most common male sexual dysfunction out there.

And while there’s no fool-proof cure, there are many ways to manage premature ejaculation. These will depend on the cause of your problem.

Here, we share some advice on managing PE – from common causes to how to delay ejaculation.

What is Premature Ejaculation (PE) ?

Premature Ejaculation is the condition where you reach orgasm before you or your partner would like. We recognise that this is not the most precise medical definition around. But medical advice has long struggled to define the sexual health problem in a way that everyone agrees.

However, most researchers say that we should define PE when a man regularly ejaculates less than a minute after beginning sexual intercourse. While this is helpful as a point of reference, it doesn’t do justice to the range of sexual experiences. 

So, for this reason, premature ejaculation is still largely defined subjectively. If PE is negatively affecting you, your partner, and your sex life, or it’s causing distress in other ways, it may well be a problem.

Just remember, pornography and conventional images of a man’s role in sex can create false expectations. Studies show that the average time before ejaculation is about 5 minutes.

Common Causes of PE

According to the NHS, there are two types of premature ejaculation, each with potentially different causes:

  • Primary premature ejaculation, which you have had forever.
  • Secondary, or acquired, PE, which you’ve developed more recently.

The difference between these two types of premature ejaculation is important, as the treatment options may be quite different. The causes of each can be the following:

  • Psychological factors. The causes of primary premature ejaculation can often be psychological, such as early childhood trauma or problematic past sexual experiences. These traumatic events can have long-lasting repercussions.
  • Performance anxiety. Related to the above, performance anxiety is a very common psychological state that can affect men’s sexual performance, causing premature ejaculation, delayed ejaculation, or erectile dysfunction. This can cause both primary and secondary PE.
  • Relationship problems. Emotional problems in your relationship can cause men to rush through sexual activity – and therefore climax sooner than usual.
  • Stress and anxiety. Broader pressures from life and work, or mental health problems, can affect your sexual performance.
  • Drinking too much alcohol can cause sexual dysfunctions, including premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, and low sex drive.
  • Physical health problems. Conditions including prostatitis, issues with the spine, and abnormal hormone levels can all cause secondary premature ejaculation.
  • Erectile dysfunction can be an overlooked cause of premature ejaculation, as men affected by the condition can rush so they finish before losing an erection.

Find out more: 11 Potential Causes of Premature Ejaculation

How to Delay Ejaculation

Whether you believe you’re experiencing premature ejaculation or you just want to last a little longer, there are methods available for you that can help—these range from self-help techniques to sexual therapy and medication.

Self-Help Strategies

Self-help techniques for premature ejaculation can help the symptoms of PE, but they may not tackle any underlying psychological or physiological causes. However, if you have success with these, you may find that any performance anxiety may ease over time.

Give some of the following a try:

  • Wear a thicker condom. Condoms can help you last longer by decreasing sensation.
  • Masturbate an hour or so before sex. Usually, you will last longer if you have recently reached orgasm. This can be because you are slightly less sensitive.
  • Explore foreplay. Enjoying sex in all its forms – and giving your partner pleasure that isn’t dependent on how long you last – can help take the pressure off.
  • Take breaks in sex. Having sex differently, more slowly, and with breaks can help you maintain control of your level of arousal.
  • The squeeze technique. This is a technique specifically designed to delay ejaculation. Before you reach climax, stop intercourse and gently squeeze just below where the head of the penis meets the shaft. The feeling that you are about to ejaculate should pass.
  • Take a deep breath just before you ejaculate. This shuts down the so-called ejaculatory reflex.

Behavioural Practices

Alongside simple changes you can make to how you have sex, you may benefit from techniques to help strengthen your control over your ejaculatory reflex. There are two main practices you can try:

  • The stop-start technique. This practice helps you gain control over your journey of arousal. Masturbate as normal (without pornography) until you almost reach climax. Before ejaculation, stop and let your arousal diminish. Do this three times, allowing yourself to ejaculate on the third time. Start off solo, but over time progress to partnered masturbation, oral sex, and then intercourse, following the same pattern.
  • Pelvic floor exercises (Kegels). Kegels are the name for training exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. They should help you improve control over your erections and ejaculations. To identify the muscles you are training, stop your flow midstream when urinating. The exercises themselves involve contracting these muscles and holding them for 10 seconds. Repeat this action ten times, three times a day.

Find out more about Kegel exercises for men. A study showed that 80% of men with PE improved their symptoms over eight weeks.


Sex therapists exist to help you find ways to improve your relationships, sexual experiences and problems, body image, and mental health. They have an essential job – and if PE is causing you distress, counselling can help you.

With a sexual therapist, you’ll talk through your feelings, your sexual history, and your symptoms. And, if PE is affecting your relationship, you may benefit from taking counselling sessions with your partner.

Whether you are struggling with primary PE, performance anxiety, or poor mental health that’s affecting your sex life, talking to someone about it can help. 

Medical Treatment

Like counselling, medical treatment can often sound a little intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you feel you’re struggling or are distressed, talking to someone can help. You don’t need to suffer alone.

Medicinal treatments for PE are usually one of three types: SSRIs, anaesthetics, and erectile dysfunction treatments.

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Usually prescribed to treat depression, SSRIs have the side effect of delaying ejaculation. Dapoxetine is an SSRI designed to treat PE that you can use once a day, about an hour before sex. Some doctors may prescribe other SSRIs like paroxetine, fluoxetine, or sertraline.
  • Anaesthetic creams. These are topical treatments – such as lidocaine or prilocaine – that you apply to your penis to reduce sensation. You may need to wear a condom, as the creams can affect your partner too.
  • Erectile dysfunction treatment. When PE results from erectile dysfunction, ED treatments like Cialis and Viagra can be very effective in giving you back your confidence. Viagra Connect is available over-the-counter – but you’re not advised to use it unless you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction.
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Key Takeaways

How to delay ejaculation? From self-help techniques to behavioural exercises – and from counselling to medication – there are lots of solutions out there for men struggling with premature ejaculation.

If you’re worried about your sexual health, you don’t need to suffer in silence. Help is out there – and seeking it out can do wonders for your sexual satisfaction and overall well-being.

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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