Premature ejaculation may seem like a guy’s problem—but it can also affect men’s sexual partners. Simply put, premature ejaculation, or PE, occurs when a man ejaculates too quickly during sex with a partner. It’s the most common sexual complaint reported by men, affecting about one in five of them. Guys tend to worry that they’ll be viewed as selfish lovers and can experience a range of emotions, from shame to inadequacy.
We have a pretty good understanding of how men see their problems with PE, but it has been less clear how their partners view the issue—until now.
As part of the large “Penis Perceptions Survey” my colleagues and I at the Sexual Health Promotion Lab at University of Kentucky recently collected data from over 15,000 men and women about their perceptions, attitudes, likes, and dislikes, when it comes to penises and sex. The largest study of its kind, this survey informed two additional phases of the study that aimed to further understand male sexual functioning and the impact it has on partners.
The survey examined various aspects of sexual habits, preferences, and concerns, including PE, and sheds some light on the way couples think about this issue. For instance, 90 percent of respondents said that their partners’ ejaculatory control was important, while about 64 percent of men said that ejaculating before they desired left them feeling frustrated at least some of time. And just over 47 percent of men reported being concerned at least half the time or more that they ejaculated too quickly, leaving their partners sexually unfilled.
One question asked men whether they would be willing to try a sexual enhancement product to help them last longer, and more than 47 percent said they would. One of the additional phases of this study looked at the effects of a topical numbing agent on PE. The subjective responses were intriguing—and somewhat unexpected.
For the men, the experience seemed overwhelmingly positive: The majority said that the product helped them last longer before ejaculating, helped them feel more relaxed during intercourse, and made sex more pleasurable overall.
They also believed that their female partners had enjoyed it, too. “We both got more pleasure out of the experience,” said one, while another stated that, “Delaying ejaculation allowed for more and longer pleasure with my wife.” Others reported that their female partners were “really into it,” “had several orgasms,” and “really let loose.”
Another Look at Premature Ejaculation
Sounds great, right? But the women’s responses really give us some insight. As with the men, the majority of the women’s experiences were positive. Many agreed with their partners that the product allowed the men to last longer before ejaculating, which made sex more fulfilling. Yet few mentioned the orgasms described by their husbands and boyfriends.
Instead, they seemed to be focused on the man’s performance—or his perception of it: “The spray made my husband feel more confident and he thought he lasted somewhat longer, so that made the mood better,” said one woman. “It didn’t physically affect me,” another admitted, “but I could tell he was enjoying himself more than usual.” Some of the women even seemed to prefer sex without the numbing product, suggesting that they might not be as troubled by PE as their partners assume.
For example, one female partner said that she and her husband typically climaxed at the same time but with the product “he lasted after I had finished which I didn’t like as much because it feels a little more intimate the other way.”
Others said that they didn’t like delaying ejaculation but would purchase the product if it made their male partners happy.
Such responses suggest that some women might not view PE as a concern—at least when it comes to their own sexual pleasure. Indeed, it may not be inaccurate to view PE as part of the same sexual responsiveness and body sensitivity that we praise women for. It would certainly take a lot of the pressure off the guy, which, ultimately, is half the battle in managing PE.