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Premature ejaculation

Premature ejaculation is when a person with a penis ejaculates, or ‘comes’, before they or their partner would like.

When talking about ejaculation in relation to sex, people are generally referring to when semen (usually containing sperm) is discharged from the penis as the result of an orgasm.

Premature ejaculation is when this happens earlier in sex than is wanted, either by the person or their partner(s). Most people with penises will experience premature ejaculation at some point in their life, and this is nothing to be ashamed of or worried about.

However, if you find it is happening a lot and you or your partner are unhappy about it, you may want to go to your GP or a sexual health clinic for help and support.

Is it only people with penises who ejaculate?

People with vulvas can also ejaculate, though it’s not something that everyone with a vulva will necessarily experience and isn’t always linked to an orgasm. This is commonly referred to as “female ejaculation” or “squirting”.

How long should sex last?

Premature ejaculation is often considered a problem because people think it signals the end of sex, but it is important to remember that sex isn’t just about penetration or orgasms. There are no rules that say sex has to finish once a person with a penis has ejaculated. In fact, there are lots of other things you can still do and enjoy.

So, the question of how long sex should last is a bit tricky to answer, as it depends on what each person wants out of sex.

Rather than thinking about it in terms of time, try thinking about it in terms of pleasure and enjoyment – sex should last as long as everyone involved is happy, comfortable and having a good time for.

Ejaculation and porn

Porn is generally not representative of real sexual experiences or how most people’s penises function. It often gives the impression that people with penises can last a long time before orgasming. In reality, most porn actors are not actually engaging in sexual activity for long periods of time. Like all film productions, there are breaks, re-takes and clever editing tricks that take place behind the scenes.

On top of this, it’s important to remember that porn actors are working when they are filming. People tend to reach orgasm faster when they are turned on. The set of a porn shoot is a place of work with lights, a production crew and pressure to perform, which might make it difficult for the actors to feel aroused. It is not a natural, intimate moment between people who are physically or emotionally attracted to each other.

How can I stop coming before I want to?

If you want to delay ejaculation, there are a few different things you can try that might help.

Knowing your body

An important part of being able to delay ejaculation is recognising the signs your body is giving you that you are about to come. You can try using something called the ‘stop-start technique’ to help you identify the feelings you have just before you ejaculate:

1. Start off by stimulating your penis however you like (this could be alone or with a partner)
2. Focus on how your body is feeling and the feelings in your penis.
3. When you become very aroused, stop whatever it is that you are doing.
4. When you feel like your arousal level has gone down a bit, begin stimulating your penis again
5. Repeat this start-stop method a couple more times, and on the final time continue until you come.

This technique can help you learn the signals that you’re going to come. You can then learn to slow down or reduce the stimulation on your penis to delay coming.

  • Reduce anxiety, worry and pressure
  • If you feel worried, anxious or pressured about sex or about pleasing another person during sex this can make it hard to control ejaculation. Keep in mind that that there are plenty of ways to bring yourself and other people pleasure that don’t involve penetration or orgasm. Remember: sex should be enjoyable and pleasurable for everyone involved and you shouldn’t feel forced to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Read more about sex and consent.
  • Slow down
  • Most people start to speed sex up when it becomes more enjoyable, but this can make orgasm happen quicker. Try slowing down if you feel you are getting close and you want to last a bit longer.
  • Switch
  • If you feel you are close to ejaculation, you can try delaying it by changing what you are doing. If you are having penetrative sex, this could mean changing the position, or you could withdraw your penis and do other things like give your partner oral sex or kiss for a while instead.
  • Breathe
  • Try taking some deep breaths: this can help shut down the reflex that creates ejaculation.
  • Squeeze
  • Either you or your partner can gently but firmly squeeze your penis just under the head using the thumb and forefinger (don’t squeeze so hard that it hurts!). The squeezing will decrease the good sensations you were feeling and help to delay ejaculation.
  • Use a (thicker) condom
  • Using a thicker condom can decrease sensation and therefore delay ejaculation. You can even get condoms that have special lubricant with a numbing agent if you think that would be useful for you. Just make sure that neither you or your partner are sensitive to any of the ingredients.

Did you know?

As well as helping to delay ejaculation, condoms are the only method of contraception that also protects you from STIs. You can get them in pharmacies, supermarkets and online. There are often options to get condoms for free if you are under 25, but if not you can buy them for as little as 99p. Read more about condoms here.

If you want further help and support with premature ejaculation, you can visit a sexual health service such as Brook or your GP.


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