- Delayed ejaculation (DE)is defined as taking more than thirty minutes to ejaculate with a normal erection. It’s independent from orgasm.
- DE has multiple overlapping causes, and it’s normal to occasionally experience DE, especially after trauma, surgery, or starting a course of medication.
- Ongoing, sustained DE should be looked at by a doctor.
We hear a lot about erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation, but how much do you know about delayed ejaculation? Here’s what everybody should know about DE, how to treat it, and when to talk to a doctor.
What Is Delayed Ejaculation?
Delayed ejaculation, or DE, is defined as taking thirty minutes or longer to ejaculate during sex with a normal erection. In some cases, you may only experience DE in certain situations, like penetrative sex, and not during other forms of sex like masturbation.
It’s estimated that 1% to 4% of all men experience DE at any given time, and many men will experience at least one bout of DE during their lives.
Remember, there is no “normal” time to reach ejaculation. While the average is five to seven minutes, everyone’s different. There’s also a question of perception and satisfaction. DE is as much a matter of how you feel as it is about the raw numbers. If you come away from sex frustrated, sad, or uncomfortable, you should speak to a doctor.
What Causes Delayed Ejaculation?
Delayed ejaculation has three groups of causes, which can overlap depending on the person: Physical, medical, and emotional. In all cases, those reporting DE can get and maintain an erection.
- Birth defects involving the reproductive system
- Nerve damage or injury due to surgery or accident
- Infections, such as a urinary tract infection
- Neurological conditions due to chronic illness such as diabetes or stroke
- Hormone imbalances or conditions
- Retrograde ejaculation, or “dry orgasm,” where your semen goes backward into the bladder
- Antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Zoloft, Lexapro and Prozac
- High blood pressure medication, especially beta-blockers
- Some antipsychotics
- Muscle relaxants
- Stronger pain management or addiction management drugs such as methadone
- Heavy drinking, especially right before sex
- Depression, anxiety and other common mental health concerns
- Relationship issues
- Worrying about your sexual performance and partner’s gratification
- Struggles with body image
- Sexual taboos specific to a culture or religion
Can Anyone Experience Delayed Ejaculation?
As you can see from the list above, DE can affect anybody in the right circumstances. It’s less a question of it happening and more a question of why it’s happening.
It’s also worth remembering that often DE is a symptom of a larger problem or a side effect of treatment for that problem. If you’re embarking on a course of treatment, or are about to change medications, you should talk to your doctor about DE before you begin.
Can Delayed Ejaculation Go Away On Its Own?
In some cases, DE can resolve on its own. This is particularly true in situations where the cause of DE is temporary, like drinking too much before getting into bed with your partner, or while your body recovers from life events like surgical procedures or an accident. For example, 60% of men experiencing sexual side effects from full or partial prostatectomies recover their functioning within two years.
However, this generally happens with DE as a symptom of a larger issue. For doctors and patients alike, this means figuring out the bedrock issue and going from there.
When Should I Speak With A Doctor About DE?
If you haven’t experienced DE before and begin experiencing it as an ongoing concern after surgery or beginning a new medication, you should speak with your doctor. Similarly, if you suddenly experience DE with no obvious cause, with or without orgasm, get a check-up.
Is DE Just A Medical Term For Low Libido?
While DE can be associated with a low libido, it doesn’t have to be. Orgasm and ejaculation are separate biological processes that aren’t linked. In fact, studies have tested medication on volunteers to prevent ejaculation, and all the participants had orgasms without ejaculating.
In fact, men who have had their prostates removed have often reported dry orgasm as a side effect. This is due to the role of the prostate gland in producing semen. And the reverse, ejaculation without orgasm, is also occasionally reported, although much rarer.
Researchers aren’t sure why orgasm and ejaculation are so closely linked in male sexuality. It’s part of the reason ejaculatory dysfunctions can be so hard to treat.
Is There A Cure For Delayed Ejaculation?
Whether or not there’s a possible cure for delayed ejaculation really depends on the causes. When you talk with your doctor, expect them to ask about the following:
- Legal and illegal recreational substance use
- New or ongoing stresses or problems in your life, including in your relationship
- Any new sexual practices or other changes to your sex life
- Injuries or accidents you might have experienced, especially in the lower torso and pelvis
- Details about where and when you ejaculate and when you can’t
- Your recent medical history, including any surgeries, medications, or infections
From there, they’ll suggest one of a few different approaches. If you’ve been struggling in your relationship lately, for example, they might recommend couples therapy or one-on-one counseling. If you’re taking medication that could be the culprit, they may suggest switching to a different medicine or changing your dosage.
If there are no signs of a medical or psychological factor, you may need to be examined for signs of neurological concerns or injury. In some cases, it might be recommended to take a wait-and-see approach.
Generally, doctors will start with the least physically invasive approaches, like counseling, before prescribing any medication. You should also talk through DE with your partner, being open about what’s happening and why. In some cases, people can blame themselves for DE, when it may be a natural result of something else.
How eDrugstore Can Help
You’re your own best advocate for your sexual health, and we can keep you informed. Be sure to follow the eDrugstore blog for more information about erectile dysfunction, sexual health, and other men’s health topics.
Dan is a long-time freelance writer focusing on technology, science, health, and medicine, with a lifelong interest in physics, biology, and medicine. His work has taken a particular focus on scientific studies “beyond the headlines,” reading the study to more closely examine the results.