Premature ejaculation: it’s more common than you think

Sexual Health

4 min read

Premature ejaculation: it’s more common than you think

Written by Team NORMAL on 03 Feb, 2022

Reviewed by Georgia Grace (Sex Coach)

Premature ejaculation—otherwise known as ‘coming too soon’—is common.

It’s so common, in fact, that one in three men1 will experience it during their lifetimes.

But let’s be honest: this common problem can still be awkward to experience and embarrassing to talk about. Many of us feel ashamed talking about it with our partners, let alone our friends, a therapist, or a doctor.

So today, we’re going to try to strip away that unwarranted shame from premature ejaculation and talk honestly about what causes it and how you can prevent it.

There are 4 types of premature ejaculation

You may not know this, but there are four types of premature ejaculation2. Let’s take a look at them now:

Primary (lifelong) premature ejaculation

  • Ejaculation occurs within less than a minute of penetration

  • Ejaculation has happened this way for most of our lives

  • It’s difficult or impossible to control ejaculation 

Secondary (acquired) premature ejaculation

  • Ejaculation occurs within less than three minutes of penetration

  • Ejaculation hasn’t always happened like this, in the past it has taken longer to come

  • It’s hard but not impossible to control ejaculation

Variable premature ejaculation

  • Ejaculation occurs quicker than normal, but within more than three minutes of penetration

  • Premature ejaculation occurs irregularly—it doesn’t happen often

  • It’s hard but not impossible to control ejaculation

Subjective premature ejaculation

  • Ejaculation is perceived to happen quickly, even though it happens normally

  • It’s hard but not impossible to control ejaculation 

Most people with penises will experience variable and subjective premature ejaculation at some point in their lives. 

Variable premature ejaculation happens to everyone, and it occurs when you’re particularly excited or aroused—while sleeping with a new partner, for example, or thinking about something that really turns you on. 

Subjective premature ejaculation is more about perception: you perceive yourself to be coming too quickly but in reality, you’re not. If you’re used to consuming media, like porn, where it seems like guys can go for ages, you might think you’re ejaculating prematurely when you’re really not.

Because these kinds of premature ejaculation are so normal, we’re not going to spend too much time on them; but we will say that if you experience variable or subjective premature ejaculation and it concerns you, it’s worth having a chat with your doctor

As far as primary and secondary premature ejaculation goes, there are a few main causes—and the good news is that all of the things that cause premature ejaculation are things you can work on, like Georgia says.

Our friends at Pilot Health (a men’s health platform covering a range of issues, including PE) have looked into this in detail, and found that there are many things that can cause you to climax faster than you’d like.

Physiological issues like weight and blood pressure can play a role, as can the kind of medications you take. Premature ejaculation can be indicative of other, underlying conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, and prostate inflammation.

Lifestyle factors can also play a role: in studies, people who used alcohol and cannabis also reported premature ejaculation.

Pilot writer Luke Benedictus offers a theory of his own: that from an evolutionary perspective, coming quickly is actually beneficial as it means there’s less time spent copulating and more time spent foraging and looking out for predators.

Perhaps less relevant to our modern lives, but an interesting idea nonetheless.

Of course, there’s one other thing that can not only cause premature ejaculation, but can impact our sex lives in a whole host of ways. That’s our mental health.

Anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses can influence and exacerbate premature ejaculation, which means that it’s important for doctors and medical professionals to consider all aspects of your self—not just the physical—when deciding on a treatment for premature ejaculation.

Is there a treatment to premature ejaculation?

And rest assured, there are treatments!

“Premature ejaculation is a condition that I enjoy working with, because I see results really quickly,” Georgia says. “There are so many things you can do—and treatment plans are really effective when both the person experiencing premature ejaculation and their partner is on board with it.”

Exercises

Common treatments for premature ejaculation can involve things you’ll be able to do at home like pelvic floor muscle exercises, training under increasingly challenging ‘race conditions’ (for example, masturbating with elements that resemble real sex) and behavioural techniques that will encourage you to focus on other parts of sex and intimacy aside from penetration and orgasm. 

Speak to your GP 

Speak to your GP and they may prescribe you medication or topical anaesthetics in some circumstances, but you should never take medication unless it’s prescribed by a doctor—and that includes many of the ‘medications’ you can buy online!

You should always check that a qualified doctor is following the correct treatment protocol in prescribing you something - which rules out a lot of dodgy cures you’ll see advertised on porn sites. 

Mental health

Depending on the cause of your premature ejaculation, you may also be referred to a mental healthcare provider.

Although it might seem intimidating and even a bit weird to sit down with someone and have a long chat about your emotions when the problem seems to be with your penis, we know that mental health issues can impact ejaculation so we recommend giving it a try.

At the very worst, you could spend an hour getting some insight on your life from someone who’s qualified to help you. But you never know how these things will go before you try them, so give it a shot—it just might work.

Speak to your partner

Partners of people experiencing premature ejaculation can help, too. “It may be useful to seek professional support so you feel equipped with the knowledge and communication skills [to talk about premature ejaculation],” says Georgia.

“Then it’s important to speak openly and honestly about it, be empathetic for one another, learn together, and work together.” 

In the meantime, there are plenty of things you can do to keep enjoying sex and intimacy.

Focus on the parts of sex that don’t involve penetration, like kissing, intimate touching, massages, cuddling, and even oral sex; and find ways for you and your partner to enjoy these things together.

If you take the focus off the things that usually result in premature ejaculation, you can make it only a small part of your sex life rather than the main focus.

To learn more about the foundations of great sex with acclaimed sex coach Georgia Grace, check out NORMAL's video masterclass, The Modern Guide To Sex.

  1. Mayo Clinic, Premature ejaculation, accessed 23 January 2021, <https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premature-ejaculation/symptoms-causes/syc-20354900>.
  2. Chung, Eric, Gilbert, Brent, Perera, Marlon, and Roberts, Matthew J. 2015. ‘Premature ejaculation: a clinical review for the general physician’, Australian Family Physician, vol. 44, no. 10, pp. 737—743. Accessed 22 January 2021, <https://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2015/october/premature-ejaculation-a-clinical-review-for-the-general-physician/>.