What is Premature Ejaculation?

By on June 18, 2013

For most men, it is a toss-up between what is worse: not being able to have sex, or having sex and ending without that beloved ending. It’s like having a bang without the, well, bang. It’s that situation that every guy dreads whenever they have sex: the premature ejaculation (PE).

Premature ejaculation is where a man experiences his climax during sex and releases his semen with little to no penile stimulation. It has been called by several names, such as rapid climax and early ejaculation. Historically, it has also been called ejaculation praecox (“Éjaculation précoce” in French).

How quick is premature ejaculation?

While there is no categorical definition that will define any climax as “premature”, the experts at the International Society for Sexual Medicine (ISSM) have agreed that any climax that occurs within one minute from the beginning of the sexual act or penile stimulation can be considered premature. According to the International Classification of Diseases, however, considers a cut-off time of 15 seconds, and if the man should ejaculate beyond 15 seconds, it does not fall under premature ejaculation under their standards.

According to the Oxford Textbook of Psychopathology, Strassberg and Perelman report that most men will climax within three to eight minutes of beginning sexual intercourse, however, many of these men will still report that they want to be able to last longer during sex before having their ejaculation. This leads to confusion regarding the actual number of men who are truly suffering from premature ejaculation, or whether they merely have wishful thinking.

Who is likely to have Premature Ejaculation?

Premature ejaculation is not a problem that only affects men. While men who suffer from premature ejaculation report that they do experience emotional distress and anxiety regarding their sexual performance that tend to affect their relationship with their partners, there are also women who report being affected by the condition as well. Women who have partners who suffer from premature ejaculation have also reported feeling unsatisfied with their intimacy with their partner, as well as being affected by their partner’s distress as well.

While premature ejaculation is one of the most prevalent sexual dysfunctions in men, there are two more reasons why it is difficult to scientifically identify premature ejaculation in men.

  • First, men will have different times when they would ejaculate on average, so what could be going the distance for one man could just be a walk in the park for another.
  • Second, the partner’s desire for sexual duration will also matter; if a partner is not satisfied with the duration of the sexual act, any ejaculation could relatively be considered “premature”.

Premature ejaculation is not a permanent condition, and can be experienced by men due to many factors, such as anxiety, stress, tiredness, or even surprise. Contrary to popular belief, age, specifically youth, is not a huge factor that contributes to men suffering from premature ejaculation. According to Sex in America surveys conducted by the University of Chicago during 1999 and 2008, men ranging from adolescence to their 60s have experienced premature ejaculation at least once in the 12 months during which the study was conducted. However, these men reported having different reasons that contributed to them experiencing the condition.


Strassberg, D. S., & Perelman, M. A. (2009). Sexual dysfunctions. In P. H. Blaney & T. Millon (Eds.), Oxford textbook of psychopathology (2nd ed.), (pp. 399–430). NY: Oxford University Press.

Barnes T., I. Eardley (2007). “Premature Ejaculation: The Scope of the Problem”. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy 33: 151.

Birch. R.W. (2007), A Short Book About Lasting Longer, PEC Publishing, pp. 16–44

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