11 Potential Causes of Premature Ejaculation — And Five Ways to Help Stop It

Premature Ejaculation
Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
14th August 2020

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Premature ejaculation (also known as “rapid ejaculation”, “early ejaculation”, or “uncontrolled ejaculation”) is a common sexual complaint among men.
Although the exact cause of premature ejaculation is unknown, there are a number of potential contributing factors, both physical and psychological in nature.
Once you understand what might be causing your premature ejaculation, you can take steps to address and prevent the problem. 

What is Premature Ejaculation?

When you ejaculate sooner than you or your partner would like during sexual intercourse, this is considered premature ejaculation.  

You’re likely to be diagnosed with premature ejaculation if you:

  • Consistently ejaculate before or within a minute of penetration;
  • Consistently fail to delay ejaculation during intercourse; and
  • Avoid sexual intimacy due to the embarrassment, guilt, or frustration associated.

As many as 1 out of 3 men say they’ve experienced PE at some point in their lives. And, so long as it occurs infrequently, it’s typically not something to worry about. 

However, if it happens all — or nearly all — of the time, you might want to seek treatment or advice. 

In this post, we’re going to dig into the underlying causes of premature ejaculation to help you better understand why it could be happening, before sharing some techniques that may improve the quality and length of sex for you and your partner.

What are the Symptoms of PE?

As mentioned, the primary symptom of premature ejaculation is the inability to hold off ejaculating for more than a minute after penetration. 

Yet, PE could also occur during any type of sexual activity, including masturbation.

There are two types of premature ejaculation:

  • Primary PE: This is where you’ve always had a problem. Also known as “lifelong” premature ejaculation.
     
  • Secondary PE: This is where you’ve recently developed the problem. Also known as “acquired” premature ejaculation.

What Causes Early Ejaculation?

Although the exact cause of premature ejaculation isn’t known, it’s thought that both physical and psychological factors (alone or combined) can have an impact.

From brain chemistry and mental health to erectile dysfunction and the overconsumption of alcohol, there’s a lot to unpack when examining the potential causes of early and uncontrolled ejaculation. 

Let’s take a look at the physical factors first.

The physical causes of premature ejaculation may include:

  • Erectile dysfunction (ED) — If you have difficulty sustaining an erection, you may try to rush to ejaculate before losing it. This can be a difficult pattern to break.

Meanwhile, the psychological causes of PE may include:

  • Traumatic sexual experiences or sexual abuse.
  • A learned (and difficult to break) pattern from early sexual experiences, like rushing to ejaculate to avoid being discovered.
  • Stress, depression or anxiety which contributes to ED or centres around feelings of inadequacy and sexual performance anxiety.
  • Low self-esteem or poor body image.
  • Relationship problems or feelings of guilt that increase your tendency to rush through intercourse.

Five Ways to Stop Premature Ejaculation

We’ve already written in-depth about how to stop premature ejaculation, but if you’d like the key points at-a-glance, stick with us here.  

Whether lifelong or acquired, premature ejaculation is a common and treatable issue, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t seek help. 

Here are five common ways to overcome coming early: 

1. Behavioural Techniques

There are a couple of techniques that you can use in-the-moment to bring your PE under control. The first is the Semans Technique, otherwise known as the Stop-Start Method. This involves edging yourself close to the point of ejaculating, then stopping to rest and compose yourself. The idea is, that if you do it often enough, you will begin to recognise and control the sensations prior to ejaculation.

The second technique is the Masters and Johnson “Squeeze” Method. This involves gently squeezing between the shaft and the glans of your penis just before ejaculation to reduce the urge to ejaculate.

The best thing about these techniques is that they can be practised alone or with a partner. 

However, there are downsides. By squeezing your penis, you’re essentially reducing the intensity of your erection. And for both techniques to work, you need to stop what you’re doing, which can disrupt the enjoyment for both you and your partner.

2. Counselling

If you believe underlying issues like depression, stress, or anxiety are a contributing factor to your early ejaculation, a qualified psychologist or sex therapist can help you address this and find a way forward. 

3. Strengthen the Pelvic Floor

Strengthening the muscles of your pelvic floor (otherwise known as “kegel exercises”)  can help you control your erections and ejaculation. To identify the muscles, stop yourself from urinating midstream. 

When your bladder’s empty, tightly contract the muscles and hold for ten seconds. Repeat this action 10 times, and try to do it around three times a day.

4. Reduce Sensation (or Masturbate Before Sex)

By using a local anaesthetic spray or cream, you could reduce penile sensation, therefore helping you last longer. However, you need to apply around 30 minutes before intercourse and make sure you wash the cream off before starting. So, it’s probably not the best method if you’re looking for a bit of spontaneity. 

Another way to reduce sensitivity is to wear a thicker condom. Or you could try masturbating before sex, which may help you last longer. 

5. Address Erectile Dysfunction

If your premature ejaculation is associated with erectile dysfunction, it makes sense to address and resolve the ED. Doing so should, in time, help you break the cycle of rushing to ejaculate.

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In Summary

Understanding what might be causing your premature ejaculation is the first step towards fixing it. And while you might have a hunch, it pays to speak with a qualified medical professional or a sex therapist to make sure you’re focusing on the right course of action. 

PE isn’t something you need to live with. By pinpointing the reasons behind it and trying the methods above, you can stop it in its tracks — and keep going.

References

  1. Urology Care Foundation – What is Premature Ejaculation?: https://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/premature-ejaculation

  2. Mayo Clinic – Premature Ejaculation: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premature-ejaculation/symptoms-causes/syc-20354900

  3. Lütfi Canat, Akif Erbin,  Masum Canat, Mehmet Dinek and Turhan Çaşkurlu (2017). Assessment of hormonal activity in patients with premature ejaculation: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5433371/

  4. F Courtois & K Charvier (2014). Premature ejaculation associated with lumbosacral lesions: https://www.nature.com/articles/sc2014175

  5. NHS – Prostatitis: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/prostatitis/

  6. Healthline  – Everything You Should Know About Premature Ejaculation: https://www.healthline.com/health/mens-health/premature-ejaculation#causes

  7. Bijil Simon Arackal and Vivek Benegal (2007). Prevalence of sexual dysfunction in male subjects with alcohol dependence: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917074/

  8. VISTAS Online – The Long-Term Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse: Counseling Implications: https://www.counseling.org/docs/disaster-and-trauma_sexual-abuse/long-term-effects-of-childhood-sexual-abuse.pdf

  9. Psychology Today – Premature Ejaculation: Causes and 10 Tips for Treatment: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/save-your-sex-life/201501/premature-ejaculation-causes-and-10-tips-treatment

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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