Premature ejaculation is a tricky thing because it’s hard to define. Some people have tried to come up with a time-based rule, such as “within one minute of starting intercourse,” while others use descriptions like “before you want to.” Fortunately, most of them include “causes personal distress or relationship problems” in the definition because it has more to do with how you and your partner feel about it than anything else. It’s also worth wondering why the definitions rarely discuss non-intercourse ways to have sex.
There can be a lot of different reasons that men ejaculate more quickly than they might like. A lot of boys and young men learn to masturbate as quickly as possible in order to not get caught, which can become a deeply-ingrained habit. Stress and anxiety can also cause it. It doesn’t matter if your stress comes from work, your relationships, or worries about your “performance.” As far as your body’s response goes, any stress can cause premature ejaculation or erection difficulties. And of course, that means that the more you worry about it, the more likely it is that you might experience it, or erectile or orgasm difficulties. It can also be caused be certain medical conditions, such as hormone levels being out of balance, prostatic or urethral inflammation or infections, or other causes.
One easy way to start looking for solutions is right at hand--literally. When you masturbate, do you ejaculate quickly? If not, then it’s a good sign that there may be an emotional cause rather than a physical cause (either a medical one, or that you have learned to be as speedy in your masturbation patterns as you are during partner sex). Solo sex is also a great way to learn to slow down and enjoy the experience. Breathing deeply during self-pleasure and staying connected to your immediate physical experience can help you pay attention to what you’re feeling and learn to take things a bit more slowly. And you can do that on your own or with your partner- mutual masturbation can be lots of fun. You can also combine self-pleasure and oral sex, or put on a show for each other. By taking some of the focus away from intercourse, you can let go of some of the pressure to perform, and enjoy the ride. A lot of men find that this can help them learn to slow down during intercourse.
Kegel exercises are often helpful since contracting them can sometimes stop the ejaculatory reflex if you catch it in time. You may also want to check out the wonderful book The Multi-Orgasmic Man. There are quite a few useful tips, such as an acupressure point that can help, several energetic tools to make it easier to slow down and stay present during sex, and some excellent general info on the topic. However, it approaches the subject from a Taoist perspective. Some guys really like that, but others find it a little too new age for their tastes.
Another possible approach is to try different intercourse positions. Some of them provide more stimulation than others, depending on the angle of your penis, which portions of your partner’s vagina or anus it comes into contact with, and such. The Expert Guide to Positions is an excellent DVD.
Speaking of intercourse -- one reason men (and sometimes their female partners) may think that their ejaculation is "premature" is that the woman hasn't come during intercourse before he does. Often, neither partner knows that, according to many surveys, at least half of all women do not usually (or ever) orgasm from intercourse alone. Some men feel as though they must stay hard until their partner comes, but if she is not one of the women who comes from intercourse, this is a task that may set both partners up for disappointment. Instead, try many forms of erotic touch and stimulation, and do not treat intercourse as the only form of sex.
We definitely do not recommend numbing creams or sprays. Some folks have skin reactions to them and anyway, if you’re not feeling what you’re doing, what’s the point of having sex? Learning to slow down and take the pressure off is a much more helpful approach, in our opinion. So check in with your partner and see if you can find ways to take it easy. You may be surprised at how much that helps.