Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 4/27/2022
There’s a fair argument to be made that, for the most part, society sees the two most common complaints of sexual function as age-based issues.
On the one hand, you have erectile dysfunction: a condition known to affect men in sexual situations more severely as they age. In general, we associate ED with older men, having trouble amid waning sex drive after all those years of normal function.
Meanwhile, premature ejaculation occupies the other end of the age curve: a young man’s sexual performance problem, one managed or mitigated by time, experience and some patience with your refractory period.
In both sexual situations, common perception is wrong. ED is not an old man’s game, and while it may be more common as you age, men of all ages can struggle with ED for a variety of reasons.
The same goes for premature ejaculation. While society would point comically to the inexperienced high school and college boys, the fact is that men can see increased problems with premature ejaculation as they age — even if they never had issues when they were younger.
Premature ejaculation in older men isn’t radically different from PE in younger men. The same causes, symptoms and treatments all apply.
If you’re an older man experiencing PE issues, you may just need to look at the problem from a different perspective. Let’s start with some basics.
In as simple of terms as we can put it, premature ejaculation is simply the condition described when someone ejaculates too abruptly or early for their own (or their partner’s own) satisfaction during sexual activity.
PE is about timing during intimacy, and if your no-longer-normal ejaculation timing is causing reduced satisfaction for you or your partner, you likely have PE.
We know a lot about PE, including the fact that it’s quite common: an astounding 30 percent of adult men aged 18 to 59 have had problems, with some reports estimating that as much as 75 percent of the population has dealt with PE at least once in their sexual history.
Even more interesting: PE and ED seem to have an association — 30 percent of the guys with PE also reported ED.
Where age and the penis do connect is erection — for older men, erections may be softer, they may be incomplete, they may be smaller and they may not last as long.
The National Library of Medicine lists a comprehensive number of ailments to the male reproductive system that may come from age, and while fertility, urinary function, prostate gland issues (like enlarged prostate) and erectile function are all mentioned, there is no such mention of premature ejaculation.
The AUA also says that the sensation or feeling that you’re about to ejaculate — that little warning — may also be shorter as men age.
In fact, if age does have a direct impact on your ejaculatory timing, it tends to have the opposite effect.
Delayed ejaculation is a complicated problem, and it can be chronic or temporary, and psychological or physical in nature. What we do know is that your risk of delayed ejaculation increases with age, as it does with other medical conditions like prostate issues, mental health concerns and certain medications.
Should older men seek different treatment for premature ejaculation? There are essentially two answers to this question.
The first and most straightforward is that premature ejaculation treatment won’t change drastically based on your age. There's no significant difference in how it will be addressed if you’re 18 versus 88, though things like exercise or medication might need to take into account relative differences in health.
The second (and perhaps more important) answer is that older men should treat premature ejaculation differently because it may not be premature ejaculation at all, but a symptom of anything from ED to prostate enlargement.
According to experts, the common problem of premature ejaculation in older men is that while the reported complaint may be that you finish too early, the reality is that many aging men are finishing too early to mask a problem with erectile dysfunction.
Essentially, you have a guy who’s noticed his stamina is decreasing, and the resulting action to hide this decrease in stamina is to rush to the finish line.
There’s not a lot of data on this phenomenon, but since PE is less common in older men than ED or delayed ejaculation, statistically, it’s worth at least considering that one problem is a poorly-designed solution for another.
None of this means that if you’re an aging male or the partner of one, your/their PE problem isn’t real. All we’re saying is that a holistic view of reproductive health might help in problem-solving.
If PE is indeed the problem, there are several options on the table for you to consider. We’ve outlined them in more detail in our guide to Premature Ejaculation Causes and Treatments, but here are the tl;dr facts:
The simplest solution to PE might be the benzocaine wipes, a topical medicated moist towelette. A numbing or desensitizing agent like benzocaine can be extremely useful when used appropriately, and while you have to be careful to use as directed so that you don’t accidentally numb your partner, randomized studies show that wipes have a marked improvement in satisfaction and reductions in distress for users.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or SSRIs) are used for the treatment of mood disorders, but one unintended benefit is that men can sometimes experience delayed ejaculation. As such, SSRIs are sometimes used off-label as a treatment for PE.
Physical techniques like the start-stop technique offer some benefits as medication-free alternatives you can practice on your own. Unfortunately, the science isn’t great on these, and there’s no perfect form.
Likewise, kegels and pelvic floor exercises may help you build stamina (yes, men can do kegels too), although previous studies have shown a very wide range of success rates with pelvic floor muscle training.
Techniques that interfere with direct stimulation like the squeeze technique, in which you gently squeeze the tip of your penis to decrease your arousal level, have been studied in limited contexts. It’s also worth noting that they’re kind of awkward to do during intimacy unless your partner is supportive.
Getting older is great, but it’s a tough journey. Amid concerns of prostate cancer, declining sex hormone levels, heightened coronary risk factors and other chronic health conditions, a healthy sex life doesn’t seem like a top priority when the middle-aged men around you look young.
Premature ejaculation isn’t likely to come as we age, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. But whether it’s PE or ED or another combination of letters denoting something’s not working right downstairs, the solution to your problem is not going to be found in avoidance.
If you really want to address your intimate issues for the health of your sexual relationships, the next step is talking to a healthcare professional. The fact is that psychological factors, sexual repression, orgasmic disorders and prostatic cancer are all potential causes of sexual dysfunction, and you’re better safe than sorry when it comes to those problems.
We know that talking about these issues can be difficult for some men, but whether you’re old enough to remember cassettes or old enough to remember black and white television, there’s no shame in the health game.
Getting the treatment and support you need to live your best sex life is just one stigma-free connection away. Whether that support comes in the form of psychological therapy, medication or something else, you can benefit from it — talk to someone today.