Premature ejaculation (PE) is a term used to describe a condition in which a man regularly ejects semen (i.e., ejaculates) very soon after the onset of sexual arousal, or sooner than he or his partner wishes. This condition, which is also called rapid ejaculation, is the most common type of sexual dysfunction in men under the age of 40.
Premature ejaculation can be primary (in men who have had the condition since puberty), or secondary(acquired; in men who previously had control of ejaculation). It may develop in men who have erectile dysfunction (impotence) and are anxious about maintaining an erection during sexual intercourse.
Premature ejaculation often causes distress for the man and for his partner. When the condition regularly occurs before penetration, it may prevent pregnancy.
Incidence and Prevalence
Premature ejaculation affects males only and can occur at any age of adulthood. The condition is most common between the ages of 18 and 30. It is estimated that premature ejaculation affects from 30–70% of men during their lifetime.
Causes and Risk Factors
The cause for premature ejaculation is unknown, although, in most cases, it is thought to be the result of psychological factors (e.g., anxiety, guilt). Rarely, the condition is caused by a physical problem, such as over sensitivity of the genitals or abnormal hormone (e.g., testosterone) levels. Certain medications (e.g., psychiatric drugs) may cause premature ejaculation.
Risk factors for the condition include erectile dysfunction (impotence), stress, and health conditions that cause anxiety during sex (e.g., angina, previous heart attack).
Signs and Symptoms
In premature ejaculation, the man ejects semen (ejaculates) very soon after the onset of sexual arousal, or sooner than he or his partner wishes. This condition is not a serious health problem, but it may cause conflict between the man and his partner.
Premature ejaculation that regularly occurs before penetration can prevent pregnancy. If it is not treated effectively, infertility treatment may be necessary if the couple wishes to have a baby.