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Kinsey Confidential Answers a question about premature ejaculation

I am 20 years old and have only had sex with one partner. I cum quickly, often within 30 seconds. Will this problem with premature ejaculation ever go away?

Rapid ejaculation (also called premature ejaculation or PE) is common among men. A study of more than 12,000 men in the United States, Germany and Italy found about 23 percent of the men experienced premature ejaculation. This figure is generally in line with other large-scale research studies on the topic. 

At 20 years old, you’re in good company, as PE is particularly common among young men who are relatively new to sex. It can take time to become familiar with one’s own sexual response. This is true for men as well as women, who often take time to understand how their body responds to sexual arousal and how they experience orgasm. 

While some men experience PE throughout their lives, most men are able to find ways to delay ejaculation or to come to peace with understanding this is just how their body works (and doesn’t necessarily need to be changed). 

While some men are bothered by coming more quickly than they might like, research on how their partners feel about men’s PE is mixed, with some studies finding men’s partners are bothered by the PE and others finding  their partners aren’t nearly as distressed as the men themselves are (or as the men think their partners are). 

In fact, one study of more than 1,000 couples in the United States, Brazil, Germany, Japan and Spain found men’s sexual problems were only modestly associated with sexual satisfaction and relationship happiness.

Although PE is common, research shows that few men with PE – only about 9 percent in one study – had spoken with a physician about it. More often, men had relied on various at-home strategies to delay ejaculation. For example, they had more often stuck to certain sexual positions or had interrupted intercourse to pause and reduce their arousal, also called the stop-start technique. 

However, there are several available treatments for men with PE. Some men find that using topical anesthetics (basically, slight numbing agents) – available from a healthcare provider or over the counter, as included in some “performance enhancing” condoms, can help to prolong ejaculation, often by a few minutes. In some cases, physicians may even prescribe medications (including certain SSRI antidepressants) that have the effects of delaying ejaculation. 

Also, some men find that masturbation techniques such as the squeeze technique or stop-start technique help them learn to understand their sexual response, knowledge that they can then apply to oral sex, intercourse or other kinds of partnered sex. 

To learn more about premature ejaculation, you might check out the well-regarded book Coping With Premature Ejaculation: How to Overcome PE, Please Your Partner, and Have Great Sex by sex therapists Dr. Michael Metz and Dr. Barry McCarthy. 

Kinsey Confidential is part of a joint partnership between the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington (IU SPH) and The Kinsey Institute. The column is written by Dr. Debby Herbenick, professor in the IU SPH. Read past Q&A or submit your own question at Follow us on Twitter @KinseyCon  

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