Research has shown that about 25% of all men have had issues with premature ejaculation (aka. “ed”) at some point in their lives.
It is defined as premature ejaculation if you or your partner consider it to occur too soon for the sexual interaction to last long enough. This is a vague definition because it seems that people with penises might be at the mercy of their partner’s opinion even though they might feel they “last” long enough. It may also be that a man feels he doesn’t have sex long enough yet his partner is satisfied.
In general, we could say that any ejaculation that leads to low sexual satisfaction could be defined as premature. The word is actually quite negative and can make one feel that something is wrong with you just because someone mentioned the term. Some call it “ejaculation control”, but that implies that the process is something we need to have power over, rather than just accept it as process within our bodies. We therefore also refer to the term “ejaculation choice” as a catch-all phrase for being empowered within our sexuality in relationship to our ejaculation. We’ll however continue to use the term “premature ejaculation” as its the most widely used.
Why is it an issue?
Once a man ejaculates, then he usually loses his erection and feels a drain in energy (known as the refractory period) and cannot continue with the sex. There might also be a loss of mental excitement for sex and a desire to rest or sleep afterward. They lose interest. Most of the time it, ejaculation means the end, or at least a pause, of sexual interactions of any kind. If any of the two partners wish to continue, then ejaculation could be frustrating, disappointing and lead to many other negative emotions like low self-esteem, depression, loss. Some feel they are not capable of pleasing their partner or that they do not fit into the ideal of what they think their partner wants from them. They may feel they’re missing out on sexual intimacy with their partner
We often put pressure on ourselves to perform a certain way sexually and then feel guilty or disappointed when we cannot match that performance. This pressure comes from may sources. Our partners are yearning for more pleasure and the pressure to keep doing so can be immense. Our society holds people in high regard who can keep an erection and keep going for as long as they want.
I have struggled with ejaculation choice for many years. Even though I am multi-orgasmic and split my ejaculation from orgasm, I would still get very frustrated with ejaculating too soon. I’d feel that if someone didn’t want to have sex with me again, then it was because I couldn’t satisfy them. Emotionally I felt insecure and preferred other forms sexual interactions, such as anal and oral sex and other forms of kink. I’d often not pursue a sexual partner because I somehow told myself I couldn’t please them sexually. While I am capable of having massive full body orgasms which most people would envy, I still found myself envious of those who could fuck for hours.
Our relationship with premature ejaculation
One could say that the idea of ejaculating is only an issue if we think it is an issue. A sort of self-fulfilling issue. If pleasing your partner is the issue, then there are many other ways that can be done to satisfy them. Self-image is only negative if we believe that premature ejaculation makes us a lesser person in some way.
Imagine a situation where ejaculating quickly is loved and revered and your partner is happy for you that you ejaculated and reached climax so quickly. Imagine how you would feel afterwards? Better, right? How willing would you be to consider their desires and please them? If this scenario was the norm, then I wouldn’t be writing this article and many more people would be sexually satisfied. So sexual satisfaction between partners can easily spiral downward into a longing to be pleased and later resentment.
The impact of feeling sexually inadequate must not be underestimated. Some people murder when ridiculed sexually. The institutions that suppress our sexuality were started by people who felt sexually suppressed themselves and they only felt this way because they were told that they should adhere to some form of sexual expression or ability. At some point our society used ejaculation as a yardstick for comparison and for others to feel inadequate
The most important is how we feel about our sexuality in our bodies. Ignore what anything told you, your past experiences, emotions, expectations and self-image about ejaculation. What is left? The feeling in our body in the moment. If we focus on our desires in the moment that arise from our body, then we can start to delve into the real reasons we wish to delay ejaculation.
I found that my real reasons for my negative issues were my deep desire for intimacy that I felt I was lacking with my partners. I learnt that I having sex with a total stranger would not be satisfying even if I ejaculated quickly or not. My real reason was an emotional connection in the moment and when I felt emotional during sex, then I had more empowered choice with my ejaculation. Becoming emotional meant being connected to my partner and going slow. This process also helped to learn about premature ejaculation, but in the end the real issue was a lack of acceptance of myself as I am.
If you feel you wish have more choice in relation to your ejaculations, then it is best done with help from others, preferably a professional, like a sexological bodyworker. The reason is that even if you find a way that works for you physically and you learnt to delay your ejaculation, the idea could still have an emotional impact on you. It is with the help of others that we learn acceptance ourselves.
Trust in the person that helps you is vital. The person needs to show that they will not reinstate the same expectations and judgements that we get in our society. If they treat premature ejaculation as if it’s a disease that needs a cure, then they will only reinstate the same shame that caused feelings inadequacy in the first place. We need to trust that anyone helping us won’t judge us.
I’ve found it is best to speak to someone who has had the issue themselves with premature ejaculation. They will know best how to deal with all the issues that may arise, what to do when something doesn’t work, and offer support. I found I didn’t trust a woman helping me with this because they would never know what it’s like, but I later realised that it wasn’t the fact that she was a woman — I actually just didn’t trust her. This woman laughed about other people with the same issue and this made me feel terribly inadequate. My whole body immediately distrusted her and I knew she couldn’t help me.
There are many things you could do on your own to help delay ejaculation and they can be very effective. We however need confirmation of our efforts in the rest of our lives. If our partner is critical of our daily exercises, then they would be for nothing. Even if we suspect that that they are critical, then they may not work. We need confirmation, positive support and reassurance. A sexuality professional is trained in offering advice and offering support. If you choose to seek such help, make sure you trust them first.
Causes of premature ejaculation
Most cases of premature ejaculation are due to emotional issues such as depression, relationship issues and performance anxiety. It seems that the cause is the same as the consequence making it a vicious circle. Again, this emphasises the need for positive emotional support when seeking help.
Physical causes can be diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid problems and some prostate diseases. It is best to see a medical doctor to solve these medical conditions before moving onto any of the other ways to deal with ejaculation choice.
The main cause of ejaculation is actually found in the nervous system. If we understand the processes leading up to ejaculation, then we can better understand how we can change.
The autonomous nervous system (ANS)
Ejaculation is an autonomous response, meaning it happens without conscious effort. The response is managed by the autonomous nervous system and includes sensory input, neurochemical, blood flow, hormonal, emotional, glandular and muscular responses.
The ANS is actually split into different main parts with different functions. Ejaculation is managed by the sympathetic branch of the ANS which is responsible for up regulation, meaning getting the body ready to move and take action and move. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is responsible for increased heartbeat, faster breaths, hormonal release (e.g. adrenaline). This is why a person with a lot of stress that struggles to relax is usually associated with a person that ejaculates quickly. If the sympathetic nervous system is less active, then our body will delay ejaculation.
Another branch of the ANS is the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) responsible for rest and recovery. Interestingly, arousal works slightly differently and is however managed by both the sympathetic branch and parasympathetic branch, but arousal through touch is purely parasympathetic and arousal through emotions, fantasy, visuals or other senses are done by the sympathetic branch. We need to be relaxed in order to aroused through touch alone. People with penises are typically very easily aroused by visuals and imagination and get their sympathetic nervous systems online quickly. This nervous tension is usually expressed by tightening the shoulder and lower pelvic muscles. One can just imagine the image an excited aroused man. He’s all uptight.
How does ejaculation work?
Ejaculation is actually one part of a few processes that happen in sequence. It is the forceful expulsion of semen through the urethra out of the body. We however don’t just have a storage of semen available to be ejaculated at any time, it first needs to be collected from various glands during a process called emission.
The emission phase usually starts when the penis is stimulated, but it has been known to occur with stimulation of other bodily parts. It can be very slow or happen very fast depending on the level of excitement and health of the person. During this phase the different components of semen from various parts collect in the urethral bulb and prostate areas or the urethra. The urethral bulb is really just a part of the urethra that can swell in a diameter and is surrounded by connective tissue and muscles. It is the area of the urethra just below the prostate that swells in diameter. As more semen is stored in this area, the more pressure builds and the feeling of inevitability (the point-of-no-return) of ejaculation can be felt. There is a sphincter in the urethra at the base of the bladder that closes and prevents the semen from moving back up.
Semen consists of a mixture from various glands and anatomical parts:
- Testicles (5% of semen): Mostly consists of the actual male sperm
- Seminal vesicles (70% of semen): Contains amino acids, enzymes, flavins and sugars that serve as an energy source for the sperm cells and suppress the immune system of a female
- Prostate (25% of semen): Certain acids, antigens, enzymes and zinc
- Bulbourethral (Cowper’s) glands (<1% of semen) galactose, pre-ejaculate, sialic acid and mucus that creates the jelly-like texture and creates a pathway for the sperm to swim.
Emission however doesn’t start immediately once there is stimulation and is also managed by the sympathetic nervous system. A way of delaying ejaculation actually includes slowing down or delaying the emission phase. One could say that once you feel the inevitable urge to ejaculate, then it is already too late. The aim is not to get to the point-of-no-return in the first place to avoid premature ejaculation.
Once the pressure is too high and stimulation is continued then a signal is sent to the nervous system to start ejaculation. Ejaculation is itself is a rhythmic contraction of the muscles surrounding the urethral bulb area, including some muscles in the prostate that form part of the Skene’s glands. Contraction is usually at around 0.8 second intervals. Most of the pumping pressure is provided by the bulbospongiosus muscles that wrap around the urethral bulb. These muscles can be quite strong and combined with the high pressure in the urethral bulb, the semen can be forced out the urethral opening at tremendous force.
We should also make note of the pubococcygeus (PC) muscles that run connect the pubic bone to the tailbone and forms part a layer of muscles that makes the second pelvic floor. These muscles wrap around the urethra and can shut it tight if large and strong enough. They also wrap around the rectum. Tightened PC muscle can therefore be felt inside the rectum.
The bulbospongiosus muscles combine with the ischiocavernosus muscles also wrap crescent-like around the corpus spongiosum and two corpus cavernosum parts of the penis in the perineal area. As blood flows into the corpus areas, there are certain valves that shut during arousal that prevent it from flowing back through the capillaries. The two sets of muscles then tighten and relax in a slow rhythm which then gives an erection.
Orgasm usually starts a few seconds before ejaculation and for most people they occur together although they are separate processes managed by different parts of the nervous system. The allure of orgasm and intense pleasure that it brings is what motivates most people to just continue what they’re doing to get to orgasm. Part of delaying ejaculation is also moving away from the desire to orgasm during peak arousal. This is more difficult than it seems because our brains are not functioning in the same way when we’re highly aroused. We find it more difficult to make choices at this point. This is also part of the reason we need to practise.
After ejaculation, most people feel drained of energy. This because the body wants to be ready to ejaculate as soon as possible again. The testicles then get a message that the body has ejaculated and needs to produce more sperm, an energy intensive process. There is therefore a sudden energetic drain on the body. Many people confuse this tired feeling with satisfaction after ejaculation and orgasm. They feel that a certain tension within themselves has been released and experience temporary relaxation. The release of tension can however be achieved through orgasm alone and one does not have to ejaculate and feel drained in order to feel sexually satisfied. Satisfaction is achieved through the abundance of pleasure, not by a drainage of energy.
How to delay ejaculation
Below are some tips and exercises to help delay ejaculation. Please realise that there is no definite method that works and you may not notice any change immediately.
There are many ways to delay ejaculation and the most effective methods usually include more than one of the approaches described below. It requires a lot of self-practise and discipline, but is best achieved by seeing a professional, such as a sexological bodyworker that includes touch during sessions. A professional can also help you deal with any emotional and relationship issues than commonly occur with premature ejaculation. The motivation and understanding from another person are also vital while practising. During arousal, many of the parts of our brain that help us make mindful choices are not fully functional and the presence of a compassionate professional checking where you are and reminding you where you are and what you could be doing, could be exactly what is needed to delay ejaculation. When you feel close to ejaculation, then the urge to just “finish” can be so overwhelming that we find it almost impossible to do some of the exercises.
The exercises help, but it is always better to see a professional.
Noticing what happens in your body and mind before and during ejaculation is probably the most important first step. Try to answer the following questions about the two seconds before ejaculation:
- What are your thoughts? Are you fantasising? Are you thinking about how amazing the moment is? Are you thinking about how pleasurable it feels?
- What is your true desire in this moment? A difficult question, but think about it.
- What emotions are you feeling?
- Do you feel any tension in your body? We often hold a lot of tension in our shoulders and this area usually tightens for people with problems with ejaculation control. The tension could however be somewhere else, like in the jaw.
- Notice your breathing. Are you breathing fast, slow or holding your breath?
- What sounds are you making, if any?
- What do your pelvic muscles feel like? Just notice which muscles are tense and which are relaxed.
- What sexual sensations make you ejaculate? Is it fast or slow? Hard or soft? Is it always in a specific area? Maybe always during penetration?
The answers you have right now might be very different to those when you’re actually there in the moment, so try to just notice.
You could also try to think of times when you didn’t ejaculate quicker than desired. Ask the same questions, but in context of what made you not ejaculate.
Masturbation and self-pleasing
The best way to break sexual habits is through masturbation. The autonomous nervous system that controls ejaculation learns through practise, not thoughts or feelings. If we masturbate without the goal of ejaculation, then the ANS should learn that this is not your true goal.
It is also a good time to notice everything mentioned above while we’re self-pleasuring. We can also take the time to notice what habits we have during masturbation. Do we always include pornography? What are we imagining while masturbating? It could be these very thoughts and emotions that drive us toward ejaculation. The body might ejaculate simply because we’re actually pushing for it and not noticing.
How often do you ejaculate? Try masturbating without ejaculating in your next three masturbation sections. It might feel like it wasn’t really masturbation if you didn’t come and it sort of feels silly. It is exactly that feeling that we wish to accept and slowly learn to step away from. We want to learn to feel empowered by those pleasurable masturbation sessions where we didn’t ejaculate.
Find ways to relax more often. Premature ejaculation is often due to too much stress in our lives and our inability to fully relax when we wish to. The more we practise to relax, the better we get at it. The exercise here to learn to relax at a time we wish to. Learning to relax during a stressful period at work could be a great way to practise. It might also mean reducing the number of factors in our lives that cause stress, if possible.
What we mean by relaxation? It means our heart rate is slower, our breathing is slow and we’re calm and receptive to our environment. We can relax by using the breathing exercises below or just pausing for a moment, notice where the tension lies in our body and just try to soften that area. Learning to relax in this way while speaking to people, exercises or other activities is a definite sign of that you’re learning to relax quicker.
If we learn to relax certain specific areas of our body, then we can also learn to relax the muscles than tighten during emission and avoid the build-up of pressure in the urethral bulb.
Breathing and sounds
Slower breathing tells the sympathetic nervous system to slow down or stop. If the nervous system responsible for ejaculation is switched off, then your body is going to delay the emission phase of ejaculation. A lack of muscular tension in the pelvic region means that the pressure within the urethral bulb is lower and it takes a lot longer for the body to send the message to start ejaculating. The nervous system can jump into action very quickly though, so paying attention to our breathing helps to keep the tension low.
Some people struggle to ejaculate at all because they’re too relaxed. Faster breathing and tighter pelvic muscles through exercise and focus can help to get more in touch with ejaculation and orgasm.
While you’re self-pleasuring or busy with other sexual acts, try breathing in while pushing your belly out and do it slowly. Breathing this way keeps the tension away from your shoulders and other areas. Breathe through your nose because it helps to slow down. Breath deep breaths and try to breath out as slowly as possible. Try to imagine a deep relaxation in the areas of tension as you breathe out.
It helps to focus on your breathing as it can also help to keep your mind away from those thoughts that push you over the edge and back to your body. Try to make a deep sound as you breathe out. This helps remind your whole body that you’re trying to relax.
Remember that this breathing technique helps, but is not necessarily going to work the first time or any time soon. It takes practise.
If we exercise the pelvic muscles responsible for ejaculation, then we also learn how to relax these muscles. Actually, your body learns how to relax these muscles. Many of us keep our pelvic muscles tightened while at work and due to stress, which means these muscles never learn to relax.
The are two main areas of pelvic muscles to exercise.
- The pubococcygeus (PC) muscle that joins the pubic bone to the tailbone. Exercising and tightening this muscle feels like you’re holding back your urine. It also diagonally crosses around your urethra and some men learn to tighten is so hard that they hold back from ejaculation this way. An overly tight PC muscle however holds tension and pressure in the pelvic area and speeds up the immediacy to ejaculate. The nervous system thinks it should ejaculate now due to all the pressure in the urethral bulb area.
- The bulbospongiosus (BS) muscles wrap around the base of the penis at the bottom of the perineum close to the anus. This muscle contracts rhythmically to push semen in the urethra out of the body. If this muscle is too tense then the body gets a message to ejaculate soon. You can find the BS muscle by pushing on the area about an inch upward from your anus. Try to push back on your finger in that area. It might feel very weak, but try to tighten only that muscle with any of the surrounding (mostly anal) muscles. If you tighten the anus as well, that’s fine, but try to separate them.
By tightening while breathing in and relaxing the muscles while breathing out, we teach the body to associate out breaths with a relaxed pelvic floor. Try different frequencies of breathing while exercises these muscles. Do this exercise outside of masturbation and sexual activity. You can do this while sitting anywhere and even while walking. Try to notice the muscle and what it feels like when it relaxes.
Delaying masturbation during sex
Most people feel that there is too much sensation on their penis during sex. Often the pressure to please your partner with a hard cock is what we feel is expected. We then push the muscles to give us a harder cock and hence build up tension in the pelvic region. Try to pause during sex and feel how tight the pelvic muscles are.
We can also change the way we have sex to decrease sensation on our cock. When you know where the most sensitive parts are on your cock, then you know which areas to avoid periodically. Try to penetrate your partner with shallow thrusts for a while. They might experience just as much pleasure and would welcome the change. You could also just grind your penis on the sides while not creating friction and still give pleasure to your partner. These techniques apply to vaginal and anal penetration.
Other quick “cheating” methods include pain on the genitals, slapping the penis, desensitising sprays, thicker condoms, gripping your penis tightly and thinking of something you find disgusting.
Premature ejaculation treatment
There are also pills available that help, mostly serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) used to treat depression. The most common SSRI used is dapoxetine that was specifically designed to delay ejaculation and take 1-2 hours before sex. The use of SSRI is debatable as it could affect your mood so always consult your doctor.
A very important question we could ask ourselves at this point is, “Why do I wish to delay ejaculation?”.
Try to understand the source of the issue and what emotions arose as a result. If we could all accept ourselves as we are, then we might not feel such negative emotions towards the way our bodies function. Acceptance is vital.