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Premature ejaculation

How can I deal with premature ejaculation?

I am an 18 year old male. Every time I lay with my girlfriend and hold her I get an erection and prematurely ejaculate. I don’t get an orgasm from it, all I feel is the wetness in my pants. I’m so ashamed of it that I won’t have sex because I don’t want her to know. I lost my last girlfriend because of this. Is there anything I can do to prevent this? Is there something wrong with me?

Expert answer

The short answer to your question is that there are no negative effects of masturbation. That means in terms of mental health, physical health, sexual health.

The first question to ask is whether or not you are actually ejaculating. It may possible that the wetness in your pants is a generous amount of pre-ejaculate or “pre-cum,” the natural, clear lubrication secreted into the urethra and out through the tip when a man is aroused. Some men produce very little pre-ejaculate, while others can produce around a teaspoon, certainly enough to make your underwear feel wet. You cannot control the amount of pre-cum, but you take comfort in the fact that all men secrete pre-ejaculate and that your body is doing its job well.

If you are ejaculating prematurely—before you want to—you should know that this is quite common as well.

Is there anything wrong with you? Probably not, though I certainly recommend talking with your health care provider. Certain antidepressants can inhibit sexual arousal, and your health care provider will know whether this option might be appropriate for you.

Will you grow out of it? Probably so. Most estimates suggest that about a third of men have some challenges with ejaculatory control, and that most of those men grow out of the difficulty as they age.

The ability to control ejaculation is not a skill anyone is born with; it is one every man has to learn. When you were a young child you learned to control urination. You have probably also learned how to control sneezing, or at least to moderate how loudly you sneeze when you are in a quiet environment. Ejaculation, like urination and sneezing, is a physical reflex, and learning to control it takes practice, experimentation and experience, along with a willingness to make mistakes along the way.

The fact that you recognize the difference between orgasm and ejaculation means you already have a high level of body-awareness. The techniques that are most often suggested for increasing ejaculatory control simply build on this strength you already possess: awareness of your physical reactions.

I caution you against trying to think about a non-sexual topic in order to avoid feeling sexual. Distracting yourself during physical contact with someone you care about is a hard habit to break and ultimately tends to create more problems than it fixes. If your goal is to be able to focus on your girlfriend and your own physical pleasures while also controlling ejaculation, then distracting your mind takes you further away from that goal rather than toward it.

I suggest that first you practice controlling ejaculation on your own while masturbating, using the “squeeze” technique or the “stop/start” technique, both which will give you practice in recognizing signals from your body, allowing you to enjoy sexual sensations and get close to ejaculation without going past the “point of no return,” when ejaculation becomes inevitable. Resources to help you learn about these techniques are listed below.

In addition, masturbate to orgasm and ejaculation (once or more) before your dates with your girlfriend. Having already experienced sexual release may slow down your responses once the two of you are together.

I also suggest you talk to your girlfriend about what’s happening for you if you feel you can trust that she will keep this information in confidence. It may be flattering for her to learn that she turns you on so much, and simply sharing this information might help you decrease your anxiety and embarrassment. Anxiety about ejaculatory control may actually make it more difficult to moderate ejaculation. Once your difficulty is out in the open, you can work together modify the techniques you’ve been practicing on your own. The DVD and most descriptions of the practice techniques assume couples are having intercourse, but you can modify the same principles to fit your relationship.

For example, the two of you might experiment this way: See how close you can sit to each other before you get an erection. Slowly practice moving closer to each other and touching each other—first holding hands, then wrapping an arm around her, then allowing her to put her head on your chest. How long and in what ways can you touch before you feel like you are close to ejaculating? At that point, before you reach the “point of no return,” move further apart or stop touching until you are ready to try again. With practice, you will likely be able to hold her more closely for longer periods of time.

If you ejaculate before you are ready, don’t worry. Just laugh, go change your underwear (keep several pairs on hand for such occasions), and return to snuggling, knowing that controlling ejaculation will most likely get easier over time as you practice with patience and self-acceptance.


—Amy Stapleford, M.Ed.