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If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Your sex life is supposed to be about pleasure and intimacy, but as many of us know, it can also be a source of anxiety and self-consciousness.
For example, you might feel embarrassed if you’ve experienced premature ejaculation (PE)––but don’t be. PE is considered one of the most prevalent sex conditions, affecting as many as 3 in 4 men at some point in their lives (Crowdis, 2021).
If PE is affecting your performance, here are some tips on how to last longer in bed.
Premature ejaculation treatments
Boost confidence with OTC and Rx treatments for premature ejaculation.
What is the average ejaculation time?
You might wonder if the time it takes you to ejaculate is “normal.” But there really isn’t a solid answer to what an average ejaculation time looks like.
One study gathered information from men in five countries to assess the average time ejaculation time for those with PE and without. They found roughly 75% of men without PE ejaculated after four minutes or more from the moment of penetration, while 25% ejaculated within less than four minutes (Giuliano, 2018). But there’s no time limit. PE simply means that a man ejaculates before he or his partner might like.
Also, these numbers don’t capture the whole picture. The study only examined heterosexual couples, meaning a whole range of other demographics weren’t surveyed. The time also only measured penetrative vaginal sex and didn’t take time spent on foreplay into account.
All-in-all, researchers have tried to set exact times to ejaculation for people with PE without much success. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines PE as not lasting long enough to enjoy sex or ejaculating before you’re hard enough for penetrative sex (Crowdis, 2021).
Even if you last an “average” amount of time but have a hard time enjoying sex, there are strategies to help you last longer.
Tips for lasting longer in bed
To find the right strategy, you need to identify the root of your concern. Some methods will focus on you, while others address your partner’s pleasure.
1. Use more foreplay
If you’re worried about your partner being satisfied, adding in or increasing foreplay is a good strategy. Switching sex positions to ones they enjoy is another tactic. This is especially true for heterosexual couples, since there tends to be a gap between how long it takes men and women to finish.
Women require more direct clitoral stimulation to orgasm, and often find it more difficult to finish from penetrative sex alone. One survey of over 50,000 people found that only 18% of women reported experiencing an orgasm from vaginal penetration (Frederick, 2018).
Starting with fingerplay, oral sex, or asking your partner what they love is a great way to bridge the orgasm gap and improve sexual satisfaction.
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2. Try edging
Edging can help extend the time it takes to orgasm, though it takes some practice to get right. What is edging, you ask? This technique is when you get very close to ejaculation, but then stop until the feeling has passed. These pauses can calm things down and keep your sex session lasting longer.
There are a few different methods for edging. You can try the stop-start method, which is when you pause sex or masturbation until you no longer feel like you’re going to finish. There is also the squeeze technique where you or a partner squeezes the head of your penis until you calm down.
3. Bring sex toys into the bedroom
If there’s a gap between when you finish and when your partner does, using a toy they like can help close the gap. The great thing about sex toys is the endless variety. You can try using a vibrator during sex or foreplay to focus on getting your partner to that sweet spot before intercourse.
4. Masturbate before sex
This option may take some experimentation to get right. Try to find a time for masturbation close enough to sex so you’re not too worked up before it starts, but still leaves enough time for you to get excited and enjoy sex as you should.
5. Use thicker condoms
Thicker condoms create a more significant barrier, which may decrease the intensity of sensation during sex. If what you’re feeling is less intense than usual, it could take you longer to ejaculate. That’s why this type of condom is commonly marketed as extended pleasure.
There’s little research to back up this method, but it may be worth a try. One study including men across five countries found no connection between condom use and time to ejaculation, but it wasn’t looking at people with PE. They also didn’t ask participants to use thicker condoms (Waldinger, 2005).
Though studies don’t prove thicker condoms work, there’s little risk in trying it since condoms are cheap and protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
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6. Strengthen pelvic floor muscles
There is a physical component to PE that historically hasn’t gotten much attention. Those would be your pelvic floor muscles, and strengthening them could help improve PE (Myers, 2019).
Kegels are a good pelvic floor exercise and aren’t just for women. To perform Kegels, focus on lifting and pulling in your pelvic floor without using your back or butt muscles to help. Squeeze the muscles down there like you’re trying to hold in pee or prevent yourself from passing gas. That squeeze you feel is your pelvic floor muscles contracting.
Repeat that squeeze 10–15 times, holding each for three seconds and relaxing for three. Do this at least three times every day. It’s okay if you can’t do a full set of 15 Kegels on your first day. Keep at it and work your way up (NIH, 2014).
7. Try benzocaine wipes
These wipes use benzocaine as the active ingredient, which has a mild numbing effect. Benzocaine wipes are generally used on the most sensitive parts of the penis like the frenulum, the connective tissue on the underside of the penis that runs between the head and shaft. You use these wipes about five minutes before sex. Be sure to allow the substance to dry before sex so it doesn’t transfer to your partner.
Preliminary research on these wipes is promising. In one study, the average time to ejaculate doubled for participants after two months of using them. Participants also felt less performance anxiety and better control over their orgasms (Shabsigh, 2017).
8. Use numbing creams or sprays
Like benzocaine wipes, there is a wide range of other desensitizing products out there. Promescent is a topical desensitizer spray used on your penis that delays how long it takes to orgasm.
Creams are also available. These mild numbing agents decrease sensitivity so orgasms don’t come as quickly. The main active ingredients in these products are lidocaine and benzocaine, which are both mild anesthetics used for the treatment of PE.
Lidocaine and benzocaine for treatment of PE
9. Consider medication
Prescription medication may be necessary to treat PE for some people. Although there are no FDA-approved medications specifically for PE, some providers prescribe PDE5 inhibitors. These include popular erectile dysfunction drugs like sildenafil (brand name Viagra; see Important Safety Information).
Causes and risk factors of PE
We don’t yet fully understand the causes of PE, but we do know the risk factors for it.
One is low levels of serotonin, a hormone responsible for stabilizing mood. Medical experts theorize that low serotonin levels can quicken how fast you ejaculate. This is why SSRIs can be used as a treatment for PE since they raise serotonin levels.
Other risk factors include abnormal hormone levels and prostate inflammation. But mostly, PE seems to be psychological. This sexual dysfunction is often associated with other psychological conditions like anxiety, depression, and stress.
Everyday mental health stressors can also affect sexual stamina. These include poor body image, low confidence, and relationship problems. A history of sexual abuse can also increase your chances of experiencing PE (Crowdis, 2021).
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When to see a doctor
It’s never too early to get medical advice if you’re regularly experiencing PE––especially if it’s affecting your sexual experience. A healthcare professional can suggest behavioral therapies like working with a sex therapist, or move on to medication if your symptoms don’t improve.
- Crowdis, M. & Nazir, S. (2021). Premature ejaculation. [Updated Jul 1, 2021]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546701/
- Frederick, D. A., John, H. K. S., Garcia, J. R., et al. (2018) Differences in Orgasm Frequency Among Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Men and Women in a U.S. National Sample. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 47, 273–288. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-017-0939-z
- Giuliano, F., Patrick, D. L., Porst, H., La Pera, et al. (2008). Premature ejaculation: results from a five-country European observational study. European Urology, 53(5), 1048–1057. doi:10.1016/j.eururo.2007.10.015. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17950985/
- Myers, C. & Smith, M. (2019). Pelvic floor muscle training improves erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation: a systematic review. Physiotherapy, 105(2), 235–243. doi:10.1016/j.physio.2019.01.002. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30979506/
- National Institute of Health (NIH). (2014). Kegel Exercises. Retrieved Feb. 7, 2022 from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/kegel-exercises
- Raveendran, A. V. & Agarwal, A. (2021). Premature ejaculation – current concepts in the management: A narrative review. International Journal of Reproductive Biomedicine, 19(1), 5–22. doi:10.18502/ijrm.v19i1.8176. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7851481/
- Shabsigh, R., Shabsigh, R., Kaminetsky, J., et al. (2017). Pd69-02 Double-blind, Randomized Controlled Trial Of Topical 4% Benzocaine Wipes For Management Of Premature Ejaculation: Interim Analysis. The Journal of Urology, 197(4S), e1344-e1345. Retrieved from https://www.auajournals.org/doi/10.1016/j.juro.2017.02.3143
- Waldinger, M. D., Quinn, P., Dilleen, M., Mundayat, R., Schweitzer, D. H., & Boolell, M. (2005). A multinational population survey of intravaginal ejaculation latency time. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2(4), 492–497. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2005.00070.x. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16422843/