What’s Behind Delayed Ejaculation?

A Definition To Start With

When a man has difficulty achieving orgasm, or takes a very long time to achieve orgasm and ejaculate during intercourse, we say he has delayed ejaculation.

couple in bed , man with delayed ejaculation
Although sex with a partner is seen as the highest point of sex for many men, those men who have difficulty ejaculating may find self-pleasuring more enjoyable.

Unfortunately there isn’t a great deal of research which explains why delayed ejaculation (also known as DE) occurs, and it’s not something many men like to talk about.

That’s a bit odd, really, considering the fact that around 10% of men seem to be affected by DE. (And among those taking SSRIs – a common form of antidepressant, that percentage goes up to around 33%.)

So I’d like to emphasize first of all that if you have difficulty reaching orgasm and ejaculating during intercourse, there is absolutely no reason to feel any shame or guilt about it. You are not alone!

Sadly, part of the expectations we hold about men in our society is that they should be sexually competent, able to satisfy a woman, and “perform” well in bed.

And it’s very unfortunate that we think like that, because it means that men who have difficulty ejaculating often feel somehow inadequate, and tend to experience anxiety, lack of confidence, low self-esteem and poor sexual satisfaction.

So I want to tell you, right here, my message to you is a simple one: there are solutions you can use to end this problem, and with a bit of effort and dedication – with a clear intention to overcome the problem, really, more than anything else  – you can easily deal with delayed ejaculation and enjoy sex to the full once more.

I know that if you’re in a relationship, you may find it easier to masturbate to orgasm when you’re on your own than to have sex and ejaculate when you are with your partner.

And, quite understandably, this is something which upsets a lot of men and their partners (if they know about it).

Couple in bedroom - man sitting on side of bed looking sad
Delays in reaching orgasm  – or not reaching it at all – can lead to a low sexual self-esteem.

Indeed, not being able to ejaculate during intercourse can result in low sexual satisfaction (quite obviously) but it can also affect your psychological well-being, disrupt relationship intimacy, and of course, perhaps more importantly than anything else, at least for some couples, it can frustrate any attempts at having a baby.

What Does “Delayed” Really Mean?

Well, over the years, it’s been used interchangeably with other expressions such as delayed orgasm, inhibited ejaculation, retarded ejaculation, and even ejaculatory incompetence.

And of course the common factor in all of these terms is the absence of an orgasmic or ejaculatory response to sexual stimulation in a man.

That’s a very scientific way of putting something that can affect men very deeply. It’d be a lot more direct to simply say you can’t come during sex. Or maybe only with difficulty.

Over the years, many people have tried to define DE in precise terms. One reason for this is that there are some men who actually fall within the range of normal human variability for ejaculation time, but are convinced that they have a problem.

stopwatch illustrating delayed ejaculation
Some men reach orgasm quickly, some slowly – but how slow is “slow”?

(Sidebar: the average time from penetration to ejaculation for a man is 5.4 minutes. The time women say is “ideal” for intercourse is, on average, 10 to 13 minutes.)

Defining “Delayed”

So with that in mind, let’s look at the three criteria which have been used extensively to define this problem:

1 There’s a persistent and frequent delay in reaching orgasm, or the complete absence of orgasm, even when a man has received enough sexual stimulation to take him to orgasm, allowing for his age and sexual fitness.

Which means, even when you get sexual stimulation that “ought” to take you to orgasm, you just don’t get there.

2 Having difficulty reaching orgasm is distressing to you and/or your partner.

Couple with delayed ejaculation
You and your partner will have to overcome any issues that arise between you as a result of ejaculation difficulties.

The implication of this is that your delayed ejaculation causes you distress. Broadly, I agree. Couples where the man has difficulty reaching the point of ejaculation, or simply can’t reach orgasm and ejaculate, and where he and his partner aren’t upset about it, must be few and far between!

3 There is no other explanation for the delay in ejaculation such as drugs or medication or a general medical condition.

And this is a criteria that puts delayed ejaculation firmly in the category of a psychological problem or a physical problem which is clearly identifiable.

But even this is a problem. If you make love for 20 minutes before you ejaculate, is that normal?

I’m sure there are couples where such a situation would be hugely satisfying, and therefore very desirable. But 20 minute sex certainly wouldn’t suit the majority of couples, because we have some very clear research which shows that as far as women are concerned, the “ideal duration” of intercourse is between 10 and 13 minutes.

You’d be fortunate indeed to have delayed ejaculation and to meet a woman who thought this was a good thing.

And yes, I know some women do like it – what they tell me, when they and their partners come to see me about this problem, is that the man’s ability to make love for a long period of time before he ejaculates allows them to have one or more vaginal orgasms. 

delayed ejaculation
Fortunately, this is one problem which can be solved at home.

However, because you’re here reading this website, I’d be prepared to take a guess that you are having difficulty with your sex life, or your relationship, or you can’t conceive a baby and you want to, or there is some other important factor caused by your delayed ejaculation which you want to sort out.

So I’d like to reassure you before we go any further that in the majority of cases there are solutions you can use at home, without consulting a doctor, that will significantly improve the speed of ejaculation for you.

 

In truth, you can do a great deal of work on delayed ejaculation at home, without delving deeply into your past in the way a therapist or counselor might.

overcoming delayed ejaculation
Reestablishing intimacy is a vital part of overcoming delayed ejaculation.

There are techniques you can use to re-establish intimacy and increase sexual arousal which generally work very well for men and women.

These technique allow the man to ejaculate in a timely fashion, and by doing so let him and his partner get all the pleasure and satisfaction which sex in a loving relationship can offer.

Types Of Delayed Ejaculation

There are several different types of DE, so the treatment program I provided on this website has been designed to deal with as many of them as possible.

Very briefly, they are something like this.

First of all there’s primary delayed ejaculation, which is also known as lifelong.

As you can guess, I’m sure, this means a man has experienced problems ejaculating from the very first time that he had sex.

It’s odd, isn’t it, because we expect most men to ejaculate very quickly the first time they have sex!

But the reality is there is a significant number of men who don’t find it easy to come, and have never have found it easy to come.

Self pleasuring
Self-pleasuring may be the easiest way for a man with this problem to reach orgasm.

Generally speaking – although it’s not always the case – these men find it much easier to ejaculate during masturbation than during any other form of sexual activity.

Another important form of the problem is called secondary or acquired delayed ejaculation – and this is much more common.

This seems to develop, for some reason, later in life, perhaps in a second or subsequent sexual relationship, or at some other point in life which is completely unexpected.

Again, the majority of men are still able to reach orgasm ejaculate normally through masturbation, as their problems manifest within the relationship with their partner.

Here, as you might guess, it’s often got something to do with the dynamic of the relationship, either because there’s antagonism or bad feeling between the partners, or because somehow the sexual relationship has triggered a man into some painful memory or painful feelings about his past, perhaps some aspect of his sexual upbringing which didn’t go very well, or which was even traumatic for him.

Sidebar: many cases of slow or difficult ejaculation result from the use of prescription medicine, in particular the SSRI drugs, and which are commonly used as antidepressants.  These and other physical causes are described here.

Video on DE

Orgasm And Ejaculation

Orgasm and ejaculation are separate and different events. Orgasm occurs in the mind, while emission and ejaculation occur in the body. That is why the European Association of Urology has defined male anorgasmia (lack of orgasm) as  “a man’s inability to reach orgasm” and delayed ejaculation (DE) as “a condition which requires excessive and possibly abnormal levels of stimulation of the erect penis before orgasm and ejaculation can be achieved”.

Yet men with delayed ejaculation (DE for short) know they have it – regardless of a definition! They cannot come easily during intercourse, and they suffer because of it!

Sure, most men with this problem can reach orgasm and ejaculate through masturbation.

But only half can have an orgasm when stimulated orally or manually by their partner. And of course, intercourse is even harder….

Back in the 1950s, Masters and Johnson observed that ejaculatory incompetence, as they termed it, can be a source of pleasure because it allows prolonged periods of intercourse.

delayed ejaculation - couple making love
We should remember that some women may find prolonged intercourse pleasurable.

This is a point we should keep in mind: that if a woman is able to reach a vaginal orgasm through prolonged thrusting she may be delighted with her partner’s stamina and ability to satisfy her without reaching orgasm himself.

(Or she may be extremely frustrated and sore, lacking lubrication, and feeling alone and isolated. Not a great choice, eh?)

The Importance Of Relationship Issues

Relationship problems almost always arise with ejaculation problems, especially if a couple wish to start a family. And in many cases a woman may think her man doesn’t find her attractive or arousing.

So why do men take so long to come?

How long is long, though? Well, as it happens, the normal range of intercourse is between 2 and 9 minutes. That is a broad guide obtained by asking the man’s partner to use a stopwatch… yes, indeed. How romantic. This is the intra-vaginal ejaculatory latency time or IELT, as measured with a stopwatch.

Anyway, how long is normal for sexual intercourse depends on your definition of normal, but there is a kind of consensus that between 4 and 9 minutes is somehow “average” for IELT.

And of course, the average ejaculation time is very different in different groups of men. For example, it’s just over 2 minutes in young men – no surprise there!

You also need to remember that how long intercourse lasts depends on many other factors:

  • how aroused the man and woman are before intercourse
  • how easily the woman reaches orgasm
  • whether the man comes first, and if that means the end of sexual activity (as it usually does for heterosexual couples)
  • how intimate the couple feel during sex, and so on.

Studying the causes of delayed ejaculation is sometimes tricky, that’s for sure!

But somewhere between 10 and 12% of men seem to experience it – an astoundingly high proportion, of whom very few seek treatment.

*In a research project entitled Sexual Dysfunction In The US: Prevalence and Predictors, almost 8% of men had some degree of difficulty with ejaculation.

Information, advice and solutions for men who wish to make love normally