What is premature ejaculation?

Premature ejaculation (PE) is the most common sexual medical condition in men,1 yet most men with PE do not feel comfortable talking about it or asking for help and therefore don’t receive the treatment they need.2

PE means that ejaculation happens before or within a couple of minutes of sexual intercourse. Men with this condition often find it very difficult to control and delay ejaculation, which can have negative consequences on the way they feel about themselves and about sex.3

Men of any age can experience PE and it can develop at any time. For example men can have PE from their first sexual experience (lifelong PE) or it can develop later in their lives after many years without ejaculation problems (acquired PE).4,5

49% of men say that they sometimes ejaculated prematurely.4

Around one in five men suffer from PE, making it more common than erectile dysfunction (ED).1,6,7 Even so, only 9% of men with PE actually seek advice from their doctor; probably due to the personal nature of the condition as many men find it embarrassing and difficult to talk about.8 Nevertheless, it is important to remember that PE is a medical condition and there are treatment options available that can help to overcome it.9

Talking to a doctor can be the first step in overcoming PE and can help men with PE obtain the healthy and satisfying sex lives that they deserve.

Recognising PE

The main features of PE are:3

  1. A short time from penetration to ejaculation (less than 2 minutes) – some men even ejaculate during foreplay, before penetration or on first contact with the vagina
  2. Feeling unable to control ejaculation
  3. Negative emotions such as distress, frustration, guilt or avoidance of sexual intimacy

Is PE the same as ED?

PE is often confused with ED, and around a third of patients with erectile dysfunction also have PE.2 PE is more common than ED and is equally present across all adult age-groups, whilst ED is more common in older men and also linked to a number of other health conditions.4

Men with PE are able to get and sustain an erection, but often find it very difficult to control and delay ejaculation.1 In contrast, men with ED are unable to get or sustain an erection long enough to have satisfactory sex.

In some cases, PE and ED can form a vicious cycle. A man with PE trying to control his ejaculation may reduce his level of excitation, leading to a loss of erection.9 On the other hand, a high level of performance anxiety related to ED may worsen or lead to PE.5,9

In both cases, talking to a doctor to get the right diagnosis is essential.


1. Hellstrom WJ. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat 2009; 5: 37-46. 2. Sotomayor M et al. J Sex Med 2005; 2(Suppl 2): 110-114. 3. Althof SE et al. J Sex Med 2010; 7: 2947-2969. 4. Broderick GA. J Sex Med 2006; 3(Suppl 4): 295-302. 5. Guidelines on Male Sexual Dysfunction: Erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. Available at: www.uroweb.org/gls/pdf/14_Male%20Sexual%20Dysfunction_LR.pdf. Accessed: September 2013. 6. Pryor JL et al. Lancet 2006; 368: 929-937. 7. Laumann EO et al. JAMA 1999; 281: 537-544. 8. Porst H et al. Eur Urol 2007; 51: 816-823. 9. Rowland D et al. J Sex Med 2010; 7(4 Pt 2): 1668-1686. 9. Rowland D et al. J Sex Med 2010; 7(4 Pt 2): 1668-1686.