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Is Premature Ejaculation Curable?

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 04/20/2022

Updated 04/10/2024

Many modern men turn to the internet for help figuring out “is premature ejaculation permanent” and “how to cure PE permanently.”  And we do mean many: PE affects approximately 30 percent of men worldwide.

While premature ejaculation can be frustrating and even stressful, the good news is that it’s almost always treatable — just not curable. 

Below, we’ve explained what exactly premature ejaculation is, the symptoms you may notice if you’re affected by PE and treatments that can help you enjoy better sex.

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Premature ejaculation is a form of sexual dysfunction that involves ejaculating, or coming, earlier than you or your partner would like during sexual activity. It can happen during penetrative sex, oral sex or other forms of sexual contact.

Like erectile dysfunction (ED) and other male sexual issues, PE is common. In fact, it’s thought of as the most common sexual disorder that affects men.

Precise definitions of premature ejaculation vary, but here’s the gold standard: According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), PE is defined as ejaculation that occurs within one minute following vaginal penetration, before the individual wishes, during all or almost all sexual activity.

To qualify as PE, this issue needs to persist for at least six months, cause distress and not have a clear nonsexual explanation, such as a mental disorder, medical condition or medication that’s associated with changes in sexual function.

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Premature Ejaculation Symptoms

The most significant symptom of lifelong premature ejaculation is a shorter average ejaculation time than you and/or your partner would like. This may cause other symptoms, including some that could affect your self-confidence, mental health and the well-being of your sexual relationship and connection with your partner.

If you have premature ejaculation, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Short time to ejaculation. Formally known as a short intravaginal ejaculatory latency time, or IELT, this refers to the total amount of time that passes following penetration before ejaculation. If you almost always reach orgasm and ejaculate within one minute of penetration, you may be affected by PE.

  • Little or no control over ejaculation. If you have PE, you might feel like it’s difficult or impossible to prevent yourself from ejaculating for long enough to satisfy your partner.

  • Less pleasurable sex. Premature ejaculation can potentially make sex less pleasurable for you and/or your partner, both by preventing you from enjoying the sensation of sex and by making it harder to relax during sexual contact.

  • Psychological distress. Because of its effects on sexual intimacy and pleasure, PE can have a psychological impact on you and/or your partner. This can cause issues such as sexual frustration, reduced sexual satisfaction and performance anxiety.

Experts aren’t aware of precisely what causes premature ejaculation, but most research suggests that a combination of biological and psychological risk factors could all play a role. 

These potential causes of premature ejaculation include:

  • Abnormal hormone levels, including changes in levels of prolactin, luteinizing hormone and thyroid-stimulating hormone.

  • Low levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that’s involved in regulating moods, feelings and possibly delaying ejaculation.

  • Infections and/or inflammation that affect the prostate or urethra.

  • Mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, feelings of guilt or unrealistic beliefs about sexual performance and function.

  • Low self-confidence, a poor body image and/or a personal history of sexual repression or abuse.

  • Problems in your current relationship that affect intimacy, sexual desire or your feelings for each other.

Because premature ejaculation can vary in origin, onset and severity, treatment can take multiple forms and result in different outcomes. A person with mild PE caused by an underlying condition could make their PE symptoms go away by treating that underlying condition. More severe PE rooted in psychological factors may take more time and energy to manage.

Like other forms of sexual dysfunction, PE can also vary in duration. For some men, premature ejaculation is an acquired problem that begins to develop at a certain period in life. This is referred to as “acquired PE.” Premature ejaculation is viewed as “lifelong” when it’s affected someone since their first sexual experience.

In some cases, it’s relatively mild and allows at least some time for sexual contact. In others, it can be so severe that the affected person may reach orgasm and ejaculate before any sexual activity takes place. 

Premature ejaculation can also be generalized or situational. Some men may ejaculate prematurely in all sexual situations, with all sexual partners. Others may have situational PE that’s limited to certain situations, partners or types of sexual stimulation.

Even though there isn’t exactly a single permanent cure for PE, identifying what kind of premature ejaculation you have — and what could be causing it — can help you find an effective treatment.

Does premature ejaculation go away on its own? Sometimes, but there are a variety of treatments available for premature ejaculation — including lifelong PE. And why just hope for the best when you can get support that’s proven to work?

Treatments for premature ejaculation include over-the-counter products, prescription medications, behavioral techniques and therapy that addresses the psychological causes of PE like relationship issues or anxiety about sexual performance.

Over-the-Counter Sprays and Creams

Topical products that lower the sensitivity level of your penis can treat premature ejaculation, helping you to last longer without missing out on the sensation of sex. 

Most topical products for PE contain anesthetic ingredients that reduce sensitivity without overly numbing your penis. Our Delay Spray for Men — which is formulated using lidocaine — and our Clockstopper Climax Delay Wipes — which use benzocaine for fast-acting relief from PE — are no exception. 

Research shows that when applied shortly before sex, these ingredients can help to slow down ejaculation and increase sexual stamina. 

For example, a study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research found that a spray containing lidocaine significantly improved intravaginal ejaculation latency time (reminder: that’s the time after penetration before ejaculation) in men with lifelong PE.

Similar research has found that benzocaine wipes produce a significant increase in ejaculatory latency time for men with PE.

Our guide to how lidocaine spray works for premature ejaculation goes into greater detail about using topical products to treat PE.

Prescription Medication

Currently, there’s no FDA-approved prescription medication specifically for treating premature ejaculation. However, several common antidepressants are prescribed off-label as treatments for PE, including paroxetine, fluoxetine and sertraline (the active ingredient in Zoloft®).

Sertraline belongs to a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It works by increasing serotonin levels, which can reduce the severity of depression symptoms.

In addition to potentially causing depression, low levels of serotonin are associated with rapid ejaculation. Experts think that the sertraline-induced increase in serotonin levels inhibits orgasm and ejaculation, treating PE and improving sexual stamina.

Research largely backs this up. One systematic review and meta-analysis from 2019 found that sertraline helps to prolong intravaginal ejaculation latency time and improve sexual satisfaction for partners.

Other research suggests that some treatments for erectile dysfunction, such as sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra®), may help to delay ejaculation and improve performance.

In fact, several studies have found that sildenafil appears to increase time to ejaculation, improve sexual satisfaction and increase self-confidence and frequency of sex in men affected by premature ejaculation.

We offer sildenafil for PE online as part of our range of evidence-based premature ejaculation treatments

Physical Techniques

Sometimes,  using simple behavioral techniques during sex can delay orgasm and ejaculation. These include the stop-start method and the squeeze technique

The stop-start method involves stopping sexual activity before you feel you’re about to reach orgasm, waiting for the level of sexual arousal to decrease, then starting again once you feel more relaxed.

The squeeze technique involves either you or your partner squeezing your penis at the point where the glans (the head of your penis) meets the shaft when you feel you’re approaching orgasm and ejaculation. Like the stop-start method, this stimulation can act as a reset before you continue sexual activity.  

You can repeat these techniques several times during sex to delay orgasm and improve your sexual stamina. You can also try mixing up sexual positions and activities. 

Wearing condoms that contain a topical anesthetic, incorporating a stimulation device like a vibrator, and trying exercises that can help you and your partner deepen your connection (known in sex therapy circles as sensate focus) may help you last longer as well. 

But keep in mind: Research is mixed on the effects of behavioral techniques for PE. A 2015 systematic review found that some studies of these techniques show large improvements in ejaculation latency, while others show little or no changes.

In other words, your mileage may vary. However, since these techniques are easy to do and cost nothing, they might be worth trying — either on their own or in combination with medical treatments for PE.


Masturbation isn’t often considered a treatment for sexual problems, but it could help with premature ejaculation.

Plenty of research has shown that masturbating before sex can address the physiological issues associated with PE by temporarily reducing sensitivity and relieving some of the excitement you may feel leading up to an intimate engagement.

Like the other physical techniques mentioned above, masturbating before sex offers a practical and potentially immediate improvement to ejaculation problems.

Pelvic Floor Exercises 

Often associated with women, pelvic floor exercises (also known as kegel exercises) can help men strengthen the muscles sometimes associated with sexual problems and poor erectile control during sexual intercourse. 

While your pelvic floor muscles control ejaculation and urination (among other things), they can weaken as we age without regular exercise. 

And while they aren’t all that difficult to do, there are different takes on how to properly perform a kegel exercise — check out our guide for more.

Behavioral Therapy and Psychotherapy

When early ejaculation is caused by a psychological issue such as depression or anxiety, psychotherapy can often help.

Also referred to as talk therapy (though sometimes explored with a specialized sex therapist), psychotherapy involves talking with a mental health provider to identify and change problematic emotions, thoughts and patterns of behavior. As a treatment for PE, this may involve changing negative thoughts and behaviors related to sex. 

Research largely suggests that a combination of pharmacotherapy (treatment with medication) and behavioral treatment is the most effective option for treating PE. Your healthcare provider might prescribe you medication to use in combination with therapy and other techniques. 

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longer sex is yours for the taking

Premature ejaculation can take a major toll on your sex life, especially if it’s something you’ve struggled with since your first sexual experience. 

The good news is that premature ejaculation, whether lifelong or acquired, is almost always a treatable issue. With the right combination of behavioral techniques, medication and/or therapy, you can almost certainly delay ejaculation and enjoy longer-lasting, more pleasurable sex.

If you’re one of the tens of millions of men affected by PE, you can access help with our range of premature ejaculation treatments, including over-the-counter products and prescription PE medications available following a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider. 

You can also learn more about dealing with PE and improving your sexual performance in our guide to lasting longer in bed.

9 Sources

  1. Carson, C. & Gunn, K. (2006, September 5). Premature ejaculation: definition and prevalence. International Journal of Impotence Research. 18, S5-S13. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/3901507
  2. Crowdis, M. & Nazir, S. (2021, July 1). Premature Ejaculation. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546701/
  3. El-Hamd, M.A. (2021). Effectiveness and tolerability of lidocaine 5% spray in the treatment of lifelong premature ejaculation patients: a randomized single-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. International Journal of Impotence Research. 33, 96-101. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/s41443-019-0225-9
  4. Shabsigh, R., et al. (2019, July). Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study to Evaluate the Efficacy, Safety and Tolerability of Benzocaine Wipes in Subjects With Premature Ejaculation. Journal of Men’s Health. 15 (3), 80-88. Retrieved from https://jomh.org/articles/10.22374/jomh.v15i3.156
  5. Yi, Z.-M., Chen, S.-D., Tang, Q.-Y., Tang, H.-L. & Zhai, S.-D. (2019, June). Efficacy and safety of sertraline for the treatment of premature ejaculation. Medicine (Baltimore). 98 (23), e15989. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6571276/
  6. Wang, W.-F., Wang, Y., Minhas, S. & Ralph, D.J. (2007, April). Can sildenafil treat primary premature ejaculation? A prospective clinical study. International Journal of Urology: Official Journal of the Japanese Urological Association. 14 (4), 331-335. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17470165/
  7. McMahon, C.G., et al. (2005, May). Efficacy of sildenafil citrate (Viagra) in men with premature ejaculation. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2 (3), 368-375. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16422868/
  8. Cooper, K., et al. (2015, September). Behavioral Therapies for Management of Premature Ejaculation: A Systematic Review. Sexual Medicine. 3 (3), 174-188. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4599555/
  9. Psychotherapies. (2021, June). Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/psychotherapies
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.

Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown is a founding member of Posterity Health where she is Medical Director and leads strategy and design of their Digital Health Platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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