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Benzocaine vs. Lidocaine for Premature Ejaculation

Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM

Reviewed by Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM

Written by Our Editorial Team

Published 02/16/2022

Updated 04/06/2024

Premature ejaculation (PE) can be frustrating, but thankfully, treatment options are available. This includes topical anesthetics like lidocaine and benzocaine. But which is stronger, faster-acting or all-around better? We’re here to clear the air on benzocaine versus lidocaine for premature ejaculation.

Used clinically as painkillers, the numbing effects of these medications reduce sensation in the penis, allowing sexual stimulation to continue for longer before ejaculation occurs.

Answering the question of which is better is hard because it really depends on your individual needs and preferences.

Read on to learn about benzocaine and lidocaine for PE, how they differ and how to determine which might be right for you.

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Benzocaine and lidocaine aren’t exactly the same thing, but they do have many things in common.

Topical anesthetics like benzocaine gel or lidocaine spray are usually used to numb an area of the body before medical procedures to reduce a patient’s pain perception.

Both medications do this by interfering with the communication between nerve cells, effectively cutting the wire of communication and letting your brain know when you’re experiencing pain.

Many over-the-counter products containing these ingredients are used to soothe sore throats, toothaches, burns and other injuries with high pain thresholds.

But this numbing effect can also be used for one particular recreational purpose: creating a desensitizing sensation in the penis.

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Topical benzocaine and lidocaine share similar functions, primarily in that they provide a numbing or desensitizing effect on the area they’re applied. But it’s fair to say there’s a meaningful number of differences you should understand before trying one at home.

Here’s a brief rundown of the two medications.

What Is Benzocaine?

Benzocaine is a type of local anesthetic used for pain management, particularly to inhibit pain caused by needle injections. It’s FDA-approved for use in the form of a gel, liquid and lozenge, but benzocaine spray has not yet received approval for specific uses in the mouth.

The use of benzocaine as a topical treatment for pain management and as a desensitizing agent for premature ejaculation is generally considered safe.

However, it could cause allergic reactions and other hypersensitivity-related reactions in some people. These responses to the medication are largely seen in children and the elderly population.

What Is Lidocaine?

Lidocaine, formerly known as lignocaine, is an amino amide local anesthetic. First discovered to be an effective pain reducer in the 1940s, use of the medication quickly spread due to its safety compared to earlier anesthetic agent options.

Lidocaine is used both as an injection and as a topical anesthetic to manage localized pain. This medication is commonly used to numb mucous membranes in the mouth, throat and rectum, but it can also be applied to the penis as a solution for premature ejaculation.

It rarely causes side effects, especially when applied topically.

Which Is Stronger: Lidocaine or Benzocaine?

Lidocaine is technically a stronger local anesthetic than benzocaine, though they’re often considered equally effective when used for PE.

Side Effects of Benzocaine vs. Lidocaine

As noted, side effects for both topical benzocaine and topical lidocaine are rare.

However, if you experience blurred vision, dizziness, breathing problems, chest pain, dark urine or a drop in blood pressure, stop using the medication and seek medical attention.

As a treatment for premature ejaculation, both benzocaine and lidocaine need to be applied for the correct amount of time.

After applying these medicated creams, sprays, gels or wipes to the penis, wait five to 15 minutes (depending on the product) to allow time for the medication to take effect and to reduce the possibility of transferring some of the medication to your partner.

When in doubt, follow the directions included with your medication or go with your healthcare provider’s instructions.

Other treatments for premature ejaculation include behavioral therapy, mental health counseling and oral medications. Here’s what to know.

Exercises, Behavioral Therapy and Counseling for PE

This bucket of treatment involves working with a medical provider, mental health counselor or sex therapist to modify physical and emotional habits around having sex or training yourself by doing exercises and certain techniques.

It can include activities you perform by yourself or with your partner to help you learn how to delay orgasm — by bringing yourself close to orgasm and then reducing stimulation. 

Two strategies for delaying ejaculation are the stop-start technique and the squeeze method. Pelvic floor therapy has also been shown to improve ejaculatory control.

Additionally, you can work through the condition mentally to address performance anxiety, depression and issues with your relationship dynamic.

Oral Medication for PE

Antidepressants, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are an “off-label” treatment for premature ejaculation.

Off-label use means that while these drugs have been approved by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) to treat depression, they haven’t been approved for this particular use — but healthcare providers can still prescribe them for PE.

SSRIs include sertraline, paroxetine, escitalopram, citalopram and fluoxetine. You may know them better by their respective brand names, Zoloft®, Paxil®, Lexapro®, Celexa® and Prozac®. These medications work by the way they affect serotonin, a chemical messenger in the brain.

One additional antidepressant sometimes used to treat PE is clomipramine (generic for Anafranil®), which has a somewhat different mechanism to those listed above.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) medication is also sometimes used to treat premature ejaculation, particularly when erectile dysfunction occurs alongside PE. Drugs for this include Cialis® (and its generic tadalafil), Stendra® (the brand name for avanafil), Viagra® (and its generic sildenafil) and Levitra® (and its generic vardenafil).

ED medications have some variance in how long they need to be taken before planned sexual activity in order to be effective.

New Research on PE Treatments

More recent research has also shown promise in reducing sensation in the penis with injections of hyaluronic acid, a medication that’s long been used for the augmentation of soft tissues. However, wider studies need to be conducted.

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Benzocaine and lidocaine formulations are designed to deal with everything from sunburn and needle insertion to pain from ulcers or dental procedures — they’re truly marvelous pain-relief products. And for men who want a little extra stamina, they’re also great options for PE management.

Maybe you’re looking for ways to manage premature ejaculation that doesn’t include taking a pill. Or perhaps you’re searching for a quick fix as you work through therapies to help you last longer before ejaculation. In any case, topical anesthesia like lidocaine or benzocaine might be the fix you’re looking for.

You just have to pick the right one. Here’s what to keep in mind when deciding between benzocaine and lidocaine.

  • Lidocaine is considered a stronger local anesthetic when compared to benzocaine, but both can be effective for PE.

  • Lidocaine and benzocaine may come in different forms to use, so pick what feels most natural to you.

  • In both cases, you’ll need to wait 5–15 minutes (depending on the specific product) to give the medication time to work and reduce the risk of transferring some to your partner.

Still not sure where to start? It might be worth talking to a professional.

For your optimal PE treatment plan, consult a healthcare provider. They can help you choose the right premature ejaculation treatment, which may include products like our Clockstopper benzocaine wipes or Delay Spray.  

Be numb to increase intimacy, not to intimacy itself. Reach out for treatment guidance today.

8 Sources

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  5. Saleh, R., Majzoub, A., & Abu El-Hamd, M. (2021). An update on the treatment of premature ejaculation: A systematic review. Arab journal of urology, 19(3), 281–302. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8451625/
  6. Crowdis M, Nazir S. Premature Ejaculation. (2021 July 1). In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546701/
  7. Singh, R., Al Khalili, Y. (2020, November 20). Benzocaine. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541053/
  8. Beecham, G.B., Bansal, P., Nessel, T.A., et al. (2021, August 15). Lidocaine. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539881/
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM

Dr. Mike Bohl is a licensed physician, a Medical Advisor at Hims & Hers, and the Director of Scientific & Medical Content at a stealth biotech startup, where he is involved in pharmaceutical drug development. Prior to joining Hims & Hers, Dr. Bohl spent several years working in digital health, focusing on patient education. He has also worked in medical journalism for The Dr. Oz Show (receiving recognition for contributions from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences when the show won Outstanding Informative Talk Show at the 2016–2017 Daytime Emmy® Awards) and at Sharecare. He is a Medical Expert Board Member at Eat This, Not That! and a Board Member at International Veterinary Outreach.

Dr. Bohl obtained his Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Medicine from Brown University, his Master of Public Health from Columbia University, and his Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies—Journalism from Harvard University. He is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Healthcare Leadership at Cornell University. Dr. Bohl trained in internal medicine with a focus on community health at NYU Langone Health.

Dr. Bohl is Certified in Public Health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners, Medical Writer Certified by the American Medical Writers Association, a certified Editor in the Life Sciences by the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences, a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Nutrition Coach by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and a Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist by the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs. He has graduate certificates in Digital Storytelling and Marketing Management & Digital Strategy from Harvard Extension School and certificates in Business Law and Corporate Governance from Cornell Law School.

In addition to his written work, Dr. Bohl has experience creating medical segments for radio and producing patient education videos. He has also spent time conducting orthopedic and biomaterial research at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals of Cleveland and practicing clinically as a general practitioner on international medical aid projects with Medical Ministry International.

Dr. Bohl lives in Manhattan and enjoys biking, resistance training, sailing, scuba diving, skiing, tennis, and traveling. You can find Dr. Bohl on LinkedIn for more information.


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