Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 10/6/2022
A rush of sexual performance anxiety mixes with excitement, and the result is reaching orgasm and ejaculating too early. How many of us have been there?
Whether it’s with a new sexual partner or a familiar one, the result of ejaculating, or cumming, in too little time can be disastrous for more than just your mood. You might feel ashamed, and your partner may feel compelled to be reassuring at best, or disappointed and turned off at worst.
The reality is that premature ejaculation (PE) is a common issue, and that it’s perfectly normal to feel self-conscious about how long you last in bed if you often reach orgasm early.
Although dealing with PE can be a stressful experience, the good news is that there are several things that you can do to increase your sexual stamina and delay ejaculation until you and your partner have had time to enjoy sex.
These range from behavioral techniques that you can try during sex to medications that you can use to reduce sensitivity in your penis or delay the ejaculation process.
Below, we’ve discussed how premature ejaculation occurs, as well as how long most men last in bed before reaching orgasm and ejaculating.
We’ve also explained what you can do to last longer in bed and avoid any embarrassing, anxiety-inducing incidents with your partner.
It’s perfectly normal to wonder whether or not you cum too quickly during sex. In fact, the “how long” question is likely as old as modern civilization.
We can even imagine the women of our early cave-dwelling ancestors quietly gossiping about how many cricket chirps it took for their partners to finish the night before.
Men, likewise, have probably asked how to last longer in bed for all of human history (or since the invention of Google, at least).
But for as long as the “how long should you last in bed” question has been around, we’ve had varying answers. These days, rather than relying solely on gossip and anecdotes, we can look to science and scientific studies to find out what’s normal when it comes to sexual stamina.
Most research into intravaginal ejaculatory latency (IELT), a term that refers to the total amount of time required to ejaculate after vaginal penetration, shows that men vary significantly when it comes to sexual stamina.
For example, one study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that sex therapists in the United States and Canada described any total ejaculation time between three to 13 minutes as normal and not worthy of clinical concern.
A different study, which surveyed couples in the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Turkey and the Netherlands, found that the median intravaginal ejaculatory latency for men was slightly over five minutes, with sexual stamina declining with age.
What your “average ejaculation time” should be is a complicated question to answer for several reasons, largely because sexual partners usually don’t have the same needs, preferences and expectations.
With penetrative sex, for instance, the receiving partner may need more time to finish, but also experience more discomfort the longer the sex lasts.
Likewise, the penetrating partner may be inclined to achieve orgasm sooner, but slow down to please their partner. In addition to penetrative sex, other sexual acts can have entirely different timeframes.
What constitutes the “optimal” average ejaculation time is also a matter of taste, but unlike with music, there’s a little less diversity of opinion.
In the first study mentioned above, expert sex therapists were polled on what they viewed as a desirable ejaculation time, as well as what was “too short” and “too long.”
The sex therapists described an intravaginal ejaculatory latency of seven to 13 minutes as most desirable, with three to seven minutes “adequate” and an ejaculatory latency between one and three minutes as too short.
These ranges may have data behind them, but they’re also another example of something that’s not often discussed in the “how long” debate, which is the fact that people’s preferences when it comes to sexual duration can differ.
You may cum too fast for someone who loves an hour-long session, but for a sexual partner that prefers sex not to take too long, your five minutes (in addition to time spent on foreplay) may be their idea of an ideal sexual encounter.
In other words, cumming too fast is relative -- to a degree, at least -- and it’s important not to get hung up on the minutes, but rather to focus on whether everyone enjoyed themselves.
With this said, if you cum in less than one minute after penetration, or you’re unable to penetrate your partner because you ejaculated before the start of sexual activity, you may have premature ejaculation.
Premature ejaculation is a very common disorder. Scientific research suggests that between 30 and 75 percent of men are affected at some point in life.
To be diagnosed with premature ejaculation, you’ll generally need to have persistent symptoms that not only prevent you from being able to have satisfying sex with your partner, but also lead to some degree of distress.
Our full guide to premature ejaculation goes into more detail about this common form of sexual dysfunction, as well as the steps that you can take if you think you’re affected.
Premature ejaculation is a common issue. Because it’s so prevalent, a large amount of time has been spent researching its potential causes and risk factors.
Experts aren’t yet precisely aware of why some men reach orgasm faster than others. However, research has revealed a range of potential factors that may play a role in the average amount of time you need to ejaculate during sex.
These include your levels of certain hormones, such as luteinizing hormone (LH), prolactin and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), as well as lower-than-normal levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is thought to regulate ejaculation latency.
Other factors linked to early ejaculation include inflammation or infection in your prostate and/or urethra, as well as psychological factors such as depression, sexual anxiety, guilt about sexual intercourse, chronic stress or a lack of sexual self-confidence.
Unrealistic expectations about a healthy sex life, which could be linked to pornography use, are also thought to potentially play a role in the development of premature ejaculation.
Put simply, there’s no single cause of cumming too fast. Instead, researchers think that a variety of different factors may all play a unique role in your sexual stamina and ability to have sex with your partner without ejaculating too soon.
If you’re concerned that you might have premature ejaculation, your best bet is generally to talk to your healthcare provider or schedule a consultation with a male sexual health specialist.
If appropriate, they’ll be able to diagnose you with premature ejaculation, and they may also be able to single out individual root causes. At the very least, they’ll be able to offer some guidance on how to deal with premature ejaculation.
It’s possible that this advice may include treatment using medication, but there are also plenty of other techniques and approaches at your disposal to help you gain control over your ejaculatory response and last for longer in bed.
Whether you have premature ejaculation or simply want to improve your sexual stamina, there are numerous things that you can do to delay orgasm, prevent ejaculation and last longer when you have sex.
If you don’t normally use a condom, consider wearing one when you have sex. This can reduce the sensitivity level of your glans (the tip of your penis), which can help to give you more control over your sexual response.
Our Ultra Thin Condoms are designed to offer optimal sensitivity and pleasure, meaning they’re a good choice if you’re used to having sex without a condom.
If you already use condoms, try switching to ones that are formulated using numbing ingredients or have a thicker design to further reduce sensitivity.
Just be aware that some numbing agents may cause allergic reactions, meaning it’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider before using any type of medicated condom.
If you’re nearly finished and your partner isn’t even out of the gate, calling for a brief pause can give you a moment to relax and keep from finishing too early.
Sometimes referred to as the start-stop technique, a quick mid-session pause is a simple way to stave off rapid ejaculation.
The science is mixed on this approach for men with premature ejaculation, and one of the most prominent studies of start-stop (also known as stop-start technique) left numerous unanswered questions about whether it was only beneficial in conjunction with other treatments.
But if it works for you, great. To get the best results from this technique, take the time to address your partner’s needs until you feel ready to dive back in. There’s no reason for the show to stop just because you need a break.
One way you might extend your sexual stamina is by working out -- just make sure it’s the right muscle group.
Pelvic floor exercises are basically a practice of contracting the muscle you use to hold in urine, training it to be more responsive, and giving yourself the muscle control to hold back if you ever feel like it’s time to hit the brakes on ejaculation.
Unlike stop-start exercises, studies have shown that pelvic floor exercises (also known as kegel exercises) can reduce some signs of premature ejaculation, as well as other male sexual health issues such as erectile dysfunction (ED).
No major studies have been done on the right technique, however, so you’re just going to have to feel this one out yourself -- don’t pull anything.
To get started, try reading our guide to pelvic floor exercises, which explains several exercises that you can perform at home for a stronger, more responsive pelvic floor.
Great sex might just require you to add another tool to your utility belt. In addition to keeping a condom or two in your pocket, you may want to consider packing a couple of PE wipes like our Clockstopper Benzocaine Wipes before the big night.
Premature ejaculation wipes and sprays work by reducing sensitivity during sex. This can help you to gain more control over the process of reaching orgasm and ejaculating, improving your sexual stamina and overall level of pleasure.
Most wipes and sprays contain benzocaine and/or lidocaine, which are topical anesthetics that reduce sensitivity without affecting sexual pleasure.
Research shows that anesthetic wipes are often helpful for treating PE. For example, one small study published in the Journal of Urology found that men who used benzocaine wipes displayed improvements in ejaculatory latency time and sexual satisfaction.
If wipes aren’t your thing, our Delay Spray for Men, which is formulated with lidocaine for better sexual performance, is also an easy-to-use option that you can apply a few minutes before sex to delay ejaculation and improve your general sexual function.
Trying to snatch victory from the jaws of PE? One technique is to simply squeeze the tip of your penis for a few seconds when you feel like you’re about to reach orgasm and ejaculate.
This is no joke. In fact, the squeeze technique was pretty much the only clinically recommended behavioral therapy technique for PE until the 1990s, which seems crazy to think about with all of the treatments that are available now.
Using the squeeze technique during sex is simple -- just gently squeeze between the glans and shaft of your penis as you feel orgasm approaching. You can also get your partner to do this for you to make the experience more intimate.
You may need to try this technique several times to find the right level of pressure to slow down ejaculation without cutting off blood flow or causing injury.
Our guide to the squeeze technique for premature ejaculation goes into more detail about how you can use this technique to cum slower and enjoy more satisfying sex.
If exercises or behavioral therapy techniques don’t appear to work for you, another option you may want to try is masturbating before you have sex.
The idea behind pre-sex masturbation is to take advantage of your refractory period -- a short period in which you may find it more difficult to reach orgasm and ejaculate again. During this time, you might notice that you can have sex for longer without feeling tempted to cum.
Masturbating an hour or two before you plan to have sex may work quite well, but it’s important to get the timing right, as trying this technique too close to the time you’re planning to have sex could result in erectile dysfunction.
Several psychological health issues can play a role in premature ejaculation, including stress, anxiety and depression.
If you’re experiencing sexual stamina issues and think they could be linked to a mental health issue, you may want to consider taking part in therapy.
Consulting with a therapist is a great way to learn new strategies for successfully dealing with feelings of anxiety, stress and worry. A variety of different therapeutic approaches are used as part of this process, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Interested in talking to a therapist? We offer online therapy through our mental health platform, allowing you to connect with a licensed therapist from home and access help without any need to worry about in-person appointments.
If behavioral techniques, psychotherapy and other options don’t produce any improvements in your ejaculatory latency, you may want to talk to your healthcare provider about using an SSRI to slow down the process of reaching orgasm and ejaculating.
SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are prescription medications that are typically used to treat depression. They work by increasing levels of serotonin throughout your brain and body, which often helps to treat the symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders.
Difficulty ejaculating during sex is a common side effect of certain SSRIs. For this reason, many healthcare providers use SSRIs such as sertraline (Zoloft®) and paroxetine (Paxil®) as off-label treatments for premature ejaculation.
Whether you suffer from premature ejaculation or just feel like you often reach orgasm too early when you have sex, it’s normal to occasionally have worries about your sexual stamina.
The good news is that there are lots of solutions available for early ejaculation, including things that you can do without the help of a healthcare provider.
To increase your stamina and delay ejaculation, try using the squeeze or stop-start techniques, switching to a thicker type of condom, or using a topical anesthetic wipe or spray on your penis to reduce sensitivity during sex.
If these techniques don’t seem to work for you, you may want to try reaching out to a healthcare provider to discuss other options.
We offer a range of evidence-based premature ejaculation treatments online, including products that are available without a prescription.