Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Premature ejaculation, or PE, is a common form of sexual dysfunction that’s estimated to affect between 20 and 30 percent of men of all ages and backgrounds.
If you’ve ever searched for information about PE, you may have come across lists of foods that cause premature ejaculation to develop. These lists often contain the usual culprits, from foods high in sugar and simple carbohydrates to fatty foods, artificial ingredients and others.
While your diet can have an impact on your sexual health, there isn’t any scientific evidence that certain foods directly contribute to premature ejaculation, at least not at the moment.
Below, we’ve explained how your diet can play a role in your sexual function, from your general sexual performance to issues such as premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction (ED).
We’ve also explained why you shouldn’t feel any need to avoid specific foods if you’re prone to premature ejaculation. Finally, we’ve covered your options for treating PE and enjoying a more fulfilling, satisfying sex life.
Before we get into the specifics of your diet and premature ejaculation, let’s go over the basics of what PE actually is, as well as the factors that can cause it to develop.
According to the DSM-5, premature ejaculation is ejaculation that happens within approximately one minute of penetration, before the person wants it, and during all or almost all sexual activity (for example, 75 to 100 percent of the time).
In order to be diagnosed with PE, these symptoms usually need to occur for a period of at least six months and not have an obvious nonsexual cause, such as medication or distress related to a relationship issue.
PE can vary from mild (ejaculation that occurs within 30 to 60 seconds of penetration) to severe (ejaculation that occurs before sexual activity or within 15 seconds of penetration).
Experts aren’t yet aware of the precise causes of premature ejaculation. Currently, they believe a variety of factors may all play a role, including biological and psychological factors.
Biological factors that could be involved in PE include abnormal levels of specific hormones and neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, prolactin, luteinizing hormone (LH) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). Inflammation that affects the prostate and/or urethra may also play a role.
From a psychological perspective, issues such as anxiety, depression, stress, poor body image, worries about sexual performance, feelings of guilt, relationship problems or a history of sexual abuse or repression may all play a role in the development of PE.
It’s worth noting that premature ejaculation often occurs with other common sexual performance issues, including erectile dysfunction. In fact, research suggests that almost half of all men with ED also experience premature ejaculation.
Experts believe that these two common issues might be linked behaviorally. For example, men with ED might feel extra performance anxiety during sex, causing them to rush in order to avoid losing their erection.
In short, identifying the cause of PE is, well, a little complicated. Right now, research shows that a variety of factors may all play a role in its development, with no clear single “cause of PE” that most guys can point to as the culprit.
Currently, there’s no research that suggests that specific types of food play any direct role in the development of premature ejaculation.
Put simply, the idea that eating junk food, starchy foods or foods rich in certain “bad” ingredients causes premature ejaculation doesn’t appear to be backed up by any science. Like lots of other common beliefs about sexual function, the idea that food causes PE appears to be a myth.
With this said, there is a direct link between diet and some aspects of your health that can affect your performance in bed.
It should come as no surprise that the healthier you are in general, the greater certain aspects of your sexual capacity will be.
This is because sexual function and performance, at least in men, is closely linked to hormonal and cardiovascular health.
As a man, sex hormones like testosterone play a key role in regulating your sex drive. Healthy levels of testosterone are associated with a high level of interest in sex, while low testosterone levels are linked to decreases in your libido.
Likewise, your cardiovascular system plays a vital role in promoting blood circulation, which is essential for maintaining erections. Many ED drugs, such as PDE5 inhibitors, work specifically by increasing blood flow to your penis, resulting in easier, stronger erections.
So, how does your diet fit into this? Although the specific foods you eat aren’t likely to cause or worsen premature ejaculation directly, your diet does have an effect on certain aspects of your health that are related to sexual function and performance.
For example, heart disease is a known risk factor for erectile dysfunction. Eating a balanced, healthy diet can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, which may lower your ED risk and improve your sexual health by improving the flow of blood throughout your body.
Other research also suggests that high consumption of junk food and low consumption of food rich in nutrients predicts low testosterone levels in men.
There may also be a psychological aspect to diet and PE. Needless to say, eating junk food on a frequent basis isn’t good for your body composition, and bad dietary habits might also have a negative effect on your body image.
Put simply, unhealthy eating habits don’t directly cause sexual performance issues like PE and ED, but they may contribute to them indirectly by affecting your general health and wellbeing.
The good news is that premature ejaculation, like other common sexual performance issues, is treatable. Most of the time, PE can be treated using a mix of over-the-counter treatments, good habits, behavioral therapies and, if necessary, prescription PE medication.
While making changes to your diet is unlikely to suddenly resolve your premature ejaculation, a good daily diet can have a positive impact on your overall health, sexual function and quality of life.
Try to eat a balanced diet that contains lots of nutrient-rich foods. Our lists of good foods for ED prevention and increasing testosterone levels discuss specific ingredients that you may want to prioritize for your general sexual health.
Although research is limited overall, one small study suggests that low magnesium levels may be involved in premature ejaculation.
Sometimes, making small changes to the way you have sex can help you to delay orgasm and avoid ejaculating too early.
Two popular techniques for treating PE are the stop-start technique, which involves temporarily stopping the sexual activity as you feel orgasm approaching, and the squeeze technique, which involves squeezing near the tip of your penis to delay orgasm.
Although research on the long-term effectiveness of these techniques is limited, many men find that they’re effective at increasing ejaculation time and treating PE in the short term.
Topical treatments for PE work by reducing sensitivity without overly numbing your penis. This helps to make the physical sensation of sex less overwhelming, allowing you to last longer after penetration.
Most sprays and anesthetic cream treatments are available over the counter and can be used five to 15 minutes before sex, making them convenient if you’d like to treat PE without turning straight to prescription medication.
Our guide to lidocaine spray for premature ejaculation goes into more detail about how topical sprays work, their effectiveness, potential side effects and more.
If you have premature ejaculation that doesn’t get better with over-the-counter treatments and behavioral techniques, your healthcare provider might suggest using medication to slow down the process of reaching orgasm and help you maintain a normal ejaculation time.
Although there aren’t any FDA-approved medications specifically for premature ejaculation, it’s common for some antidepressants to be prescribed off-label as premature ejaculation pills.
These medications work by increasing the amount of serotonin in your body. Research suggests that serotonin inhibits ejaculation, meaning it slows down the process of reaching orgasm during sex.
Contrary to popular belief, there’s no convincing scientific evidence that shows that certain types of food speed up orgasm and contribute to premature ejaculation.
However, an unhealthy diet and lifestyle can affect your overall health, which may increase your risk of some sexual disorders. If you’re one of the many men affected by PE, try to eat a healthy diet and maintain a balanced, active general lifestyle.
Our range of premature ejaculation treatments includes proven options for dealing with PE more directly, such as wipes, sprays and prescription medications available online after a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider.
Want to learn more about PE? Our complete guide to premature ejaculation explains everything you need to know about this common sexual performance issue, from causes and symptoms to the latest research on PE treatments.