What is premature ejaculation?

  • Ejaculation which occurs always or nearly always before or within one minute of vaginal penetration.
  • Failure to delay ejaculation during nearly all episodes of vaginal penetration.
  • Personal distress, bother, frustration and/or the avoidance of sexual encounters.

What are the Types?

Premature ejaculation may be classified as ‘lifelong’ (primary) or ‘acquired’ (secondary):

  • Lifelong premature ejaculation is characterised by onset from the first sexual experience and remains a problem during life.
  • Acquired premature ejaculation is characterised by a gradual or sudden onset with ejaculation being normal before onset of the problem. Time to ejaculation is short but not usually as fast as in lifelong premature ejaculation.

What are the risk factors?

  • Premature ejaculation may be anxiety-related. It is therefore more common in young men and early in a relationship. In these situations, the problem usually resolves with time.
  • Iatrogenic causes include amfetamine, cocaine and dopaminergic drugs. Although effective for the treatment of premature ejaculation in some men, sildenafil may also be a cause of premature ejaculation in others.
  • Urological causes – eg, Prostitis means infection of prostrate
  • Neurological causes – eg, Multiple Sclerosis and  peripheral neuropathies.

What are the treatment?

Management should be tailored to the needs of the individual. The condition may be more of an issue in some relationships than others and patient expectation should be explored. Psychosexual counselling may be sufficient.

  • General advice:
    • More frequent sex (or masturbation): premature ejaculation is more likely if there is a longer gap between sexual intercourse.
    • Using a condom to decrease sensation.
    • Sex with the woman on top reduces the likelihood of premature ejaculation.
    • Squeeze and stop-go techniques: stimulating the penis almost to the point of ejaculation and then stopping. These techniques are often effective but may take a few months to produce any benefit and relapse is common..
    • Behavioural treatments are useful for secondary premature ejaculation but are not recommended first-line for lifelong premature ejaculation. They are time-intensive and require commitment from the partner.
  • Drug therapy:
    • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants are the most commonly used (off-label use) but need to be taken daily for 12 weeks before the maximum effect is achieved. Reduced response to treatment has been recorded after 6-12 months.
    • In patients who cannot tolerate the side-effects of SSRIs, on-demand treatment with clomipramine may be a suitable alternative.
    • Daproxetine is an SSRI which has been specifically developed for the treatment of premature ejaculation and is proving highly effective.
    • Sildenafil is an effective alternative, especially in older men and when associated with erectile Dysfunction. Studies suggest that It improves intravaginal latency times, reduces performance anxiety and improves sexual satisfaction. It is thought to act by down-regulating the ejaculation threshold. There is some evidence that a combination of sildenafil with SSRI is better than SSRI monotherapy.
    • Anaesthetic creams may be effective and may show an additive effect when combined with sildenafil. Aerosol sprays are proving popular and novel preparations are being developed. Topical preparations may be the preferred therapy for some patients.
    • Tramadol has been found to have beneficial effect in the treatment of premature ejaculation but further studies of long-term safety are required before this treatment can be recommended as a viable option.
  • Psychosexual therapy:
    • The evidence base for the effectiveness of psychological interventions.is limited and randomised trials with larger sample sizes are needed.
  • Surgery:
    • One study reported that a short frenulum was found in 43% of individuals affected by lifelong premature ejaculation. Frenulectomy was effective in relieving the problem and the authors recommended excluding short frenulum in all patients with lifelong premature ejaculation.