Premature ejaculation (PE), or “finishing” early, is a common fear and problem that can affect men of all ages and backgrounds.
From the young and inexperienced to the older guys out there who sometimes feel like they’re losing their mojo, it’s an extremely prevalent occurrence, and one that can make you feel as if your prowess in the bedroom is slipping away when it occurs.
A variety of factors can play a role in losing control over your ejaculatory reflex and orgasming too early, including sexual performance anxiety, difficulties with sexual intimacy or conditions like abnormal hormone levels, which may contributed to inflammation that affects your reproductive system.
The good news is that while rapid ejaculation is fairly common, it’s also a problem that can be treated, usually with medication, lifestyle changes or a mix of different approaches.
Below, we’ve discussed the average time most guys last in bed, as well as how both physical and mental health issues may contribute to you reaching orgasm faster than you’d like.
We’ve also listed eight tips that you can use to control ejaculation and last longer in bed, from behavioral techniques and exercises that you perform at home to medications you can use to reduce sensitivity in your penis and improve your stamina.
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Before we share techniques that you can use to improve your sexual stamina, let’s cover one important thing: how long the average guy lasts in men.
Understanding what is and isn’t normal is critical when it comes to sexual health and function, as it’s easy to form an unrealistic view of sex when your key sources of information are mass media and the internet.
A 2008 study looked at this exact question. Researchers wanted to see what the typical length of a sexual encounter was and concluded that the average sexual intercourse session lasts for somewhere between three and 13 minutes.
What’s more important, though, is that the survey asked several sex therapists — mental health professionals that specialize in sex — to weigh in on how long sex should last.
The sex therapists concluded that sexual intercourse was “desirable” if it continued for seven to 13 minutes, “adequate” if it lasted for three to seven minutes and “too long” if it continued for 10 to 30 minutes. As for “too short,” they gave one to two minutes as an answer.
Kinda surprising, right? For the most part, “real life” sex doesn’t last as long as you might think.
However, it’s also important to point out that information like this is worth a grain of salt, in part because sex isn’t a structured activity. Eight minutes of penetration might be great, but it might include half an hour of foreplay and teasing for some people.
Sex, in other words, is the type of activity that no two people enjoy or experience in exactly the same way.
As such, it’s important not to obsess too much over whether or not you’re “normal” and instead focus on what really matter — that you and your partner enjoy sexual activity.
There are numerous ways to control your orgasm process and stop premature ejaculation, from behavioral techniques you can perform during sex to treatments you can apply before the magic happens.
We’ve shared eight tips and techniques below to help with controlling ejaculation better, allowing you to enjoy a more pleasurable, longer-lasting sexual experience.
The start-stop technique is a behavioral technique that can slow down ejaculation. It’s simple — just stop moving your penis when you feel orgasm and ejaculation approaching, wait a moment, and then start again once you feel the sensation pass.
In other words, as soon as you cross that point where both missile keys have been turned, you pull back, take a few deep breaths and hold still until the urge to fire subsides.
The start-stop technique has been around for a long time, and we’re guessing you have already tried this yourself if you’re having problems with cumming too fast.
Although there’s very little scientific data on the effectiveness of this technique, some guys claim it’s a helpful treatment option for dealing with premature ejaculation.
Since it’s a simple technique to perform and costs nothing, it’s a good first option if you’d like to gain more control over your orgasm and ejaculation process without spending anything.
Premature ejaculation exercises are an excellent way to build control over the muscles near the bottom of your pelvis, which play a key role in controlling your ejaculatory response.
Also known as kegels, pelvic floor exercises train your pelvic floor muscles to hold back the flow of liquids out of your urinary tract, firming up the surrounding muscles in the process.
Since these muscles weaken with age, it’s a good habit to add a few reps of these exercises to your routine, even if you’re not struggling with sexual stamina issues.
One 2019 review examined the benefits of kegels as part of 10 erectile dysfunction studies and found that most of them did produce improvements and other benefits for people suffering from premature ejaculation.
The review had its own limits, though, including a lack of clarity on the best way to perform this type of exercise — how many reps, how many seconds they should be held for, as well as how often you should do them.
Our best advice is to try not to hurt yourself, but otherwise go with your gut, err, groin… on how to perform these exercises effectively.
One simple way to reduce your risk of sexual dysfunctions such as premature ejaculation is to use premature wipes before you have sex.
These products, such as our Clockstopper Benzocaine Wipes, reduce sensitivity in your penis and make it easier for you to control your orgasm and ejaculation process. This is done with a numbing agent called benzocaine, which is a widely-used topical anesthetic.
Several studies have looked into the effects of benzocaine for control of ejaculation, with many showing positive results.
For example, a randomized study published in the Journal of Urology showed strong evidence of increased control of ejaculation, lower distress and higher sexual satisfaction for benzocaine wipe users.
Benzocaine is available in several forms, including a liquid spray. Other topical anesthetics are also used in similar premature ejaculation treatments, such as our Delay Spray for Men, which uses the topical anesthetic lidocaine to produce similar effects.
When it comes to topical treatments for PE, just be careful not to employ the wrong strength — more concentrated topical anesthetics used for pain management may make your penis feel a little too numb for sex, potentially making it harder to maintain a lasting erection.
You also don’t want to apply them immediately before sex, as this may cause the anesthetic to transfer to your partner’s skin. Instead, aim to use wipes, creams and other topical products 10 to 15 minutes before sexual activity for optimal results.
We realize some of these premature ejaculation tips have not-so-creative names. However, the squeeze technique isn’t quite as silly as it sounds.
This technique involves squeezing the tip of your penis just before you reach orgasm and then holding it until the urge to ejaculate subsides and your arousal level decreases.
Like with the start-stop technique, there aren’t many studies that look at the effectiveness of the squeeze technique. However, it has a long history and is often used as a method of slowing the ejaculation process by men who don’t want to use medication.
If performing the squeeze technique yourself doesn’t seem appealing, you can ask your partner to gently squeeze in between the glans and shaft of your penis when you feel that you’re about to reach orgasm and ejaculate.
Just make sure that your partner does so gently — you don’t want to squeeze so hard that it may affect blood flow to your penis.
Believe it or not, something as simple as wearing a condom can often help you gain control over your sexual function and avoid cumming too fast.
In addition to reducing your risk of STDs and preventing pregnancy, condoms can delay orgasm and ejaculation by creating a small but significant barrier between your partner and yourself and reducing sensitivity in your penis.
While all condoms will reduce sensitivity by at least some amount, you’ll get the best results with condoms designed for treating premature ejaculation, which are often thicker and contain topical anesthetics to reduce sensitivity in the tip of your penis.
If you usually have sex without one and want to improve your stamina, try using a condom next time. Not only will you last longer — you’ll gain a new level of protection against STDs and lower your risk of an accidental pregnancy.
For the most part, better sexual health and better overall health go hand in hand. Put simply, the healthier you become, the less likely it is that you’ll need to deal with sexual performance issues such as premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction.
To improve your general health, try to make exercising, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of fresh air major parts of your daily routine.
Our guide to habits for boosting your sexual performance shares simple but effective habits and lifestyle changes that you can make for improved stamina in bed and a reduced risk of physical conditions that could affect your sexual function.
Sexual health issues like premature ejaculation can take a real toll on your mental health, which may increase your risk of sexual performance anxiety and other mental health issues.
In some cases, mental health issues such as chronic stress, depression or anxiety disorders are also factors in the development of premature ejaculation.
If you think your mental health is affecting your sexual function, or your sexual health issues are starting to take a toll on your mental well-being, one of the best things that you can do is to reach out to a mental health provider for advice and assistance.
Using our online therapy services, you can connect with a licensed therapy provider and access care from your home, helping you to overcome mental health issues and make real progress, all in a private, comfortable environment.
For some men, behavioral techniques and lifestyle changes are all that’re required to get control over ejaculation and last for longer in bed.
For others, seemingly no amount of kegel exercises, self-help techniques or hours spent trying the pause-squeeze method seem to have any effect on voluntary control over ejaculation.
If you seem to struggle with premature or early ejaculation no matter what techniques you use or lifestyle changes you make, you may want to consider talking to a healthcare provider about using medication to delay ejaculation.
Although there’s no FDA-approved medication specifically for delaying ejaculation, a variety of medications are used off-label for this purpose.
These medications, which are typically used to treat depression, can slow ejaculation and help you to last for longer in bed. They come in tablet or capsule form and are supported by a large volume of evidence showing real improvements in ejaculation latency in men.
In fact, a 2007 study of men struggling with PE showed significant effects of SSRIs on orgasm and ejaculation.
After just four weeks of using fluoxetine, paroxetine or escitalopram, 100 percent of the men in the program showed reduced premature ejaculation symptoms.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that SSRIs come with their own side effects that you’ll need to be aware of before starting treatment. These are generally mild, but may affect some aspects of your well-being, making them important to discuss with your healthcare provider.
Controlling ejaculation is something every guy would like to be able to do. While there’s no way to gain total control over the process of reaching orgasm and ejaculating, the tactics above can help you to slow it down and gain more control over your ejaculatory reflexes in bed.
One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t always have to try to “fix” this common worry if you’re already able to enjoy sex with your partner. As we mentioned above, sex doesn’t always last for as long as we think, and having sex for a few minutes at a time isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
But if you want to last longer for the right reasons (satisfying a female or male partner, enjoying more intimacy with someone you care about, or extending your fun in bed) then there’s a lot of help out there.
Part of this help comes in the form of treatments for PE, such as sprays, wipes and medications for improving ejaculatory control and sexual stamina.
Another part of controlling ejaculation comes in practicing good habits, communicating with your partner and gaining a feel for how your body responds to sexual stimulation.
Interested in learning more about enjoying better sex, from controlling ejaculation to just having a more intimate time in bed? Our guide to having a healthy sex life goes into more detail about this topic and shares other actionable tips that you can use for more pleasurable sex.
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Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership.
She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH.
Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare.
Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.