Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 11/28/2022
About one in three men will experience premature ejaculation (PE) at some point in life, making it one of the most common sexual dysfunctions.
However common, dealing with premature ejaculation can be a frustrating, stressful experience that affects both your sexual function and your self-confidence.
Premature ejaculation is a lack of control over ejaculation. If you have PE, you may ejaculate a few minutes, or occasionally even seconds, after penetration. In severe cases, you might even reach orgasm and ejaculate during foreplay.
While it’s far from uncommon for PE to occur occasionally, when it occurs frequently, it can take a major toll on your sex life.
There are several ways to deal with premature ejaculation, from behavioral techniques to forms of therapy. However, one treatment option that many men find helpful is the use of lidocaine — a topical anesthetic — in the form of a pre-sex spray.
Lidocaine topical spray, like our Delay Spray for Men, works by reducing sensitivity in your penis and allowing to have sex for longer. This makes it easier to control ejaculation, all with little to no loss of feeling during sex.
Below, we’ve explained how and why premature ejaculation can occur, as well as how lidocaine spray for premature ejaculation can make it easier to control orgasm and ejaculation in bed.
We’ve also addressed common questions and concerns about using lidocaine spray to treat PE, from the safety of lidocaine formulations to how over-the-counter lidocaine spray can affect your partner.
Before we get into the specifics of how and why premature ejaculation happens, it’s important to cover what premature ejaculation actually is.
Clinically, premature ejaculation is defined as ejaculation that occurs during partnered sex within one minute of penetration and before you’d like it to.
Premature ejaculation can occur from time to time, but it’s generally viewed as a sexual disorder when it occurs during all or nearly all sexual activity — for example, 75 to 100 percent of the time you have sex — and persists for six months or longer.
Like many other forms of male sexual dysfunction, premature ejaculation is common. Research suggests that up to 39 percent of men are affected by PE at some time, although the severity of premature ejaculation symptoms can vary significantly between men.
Put simply, if you’re affected by premature ejaculation, either every now and then or every time you have sex, you’re most certainly not alone.
Now, let’s get into why premature ejaculation happens. Unlike other medical conditions, there’s no single cause for PE that can be diagnosed by a healthcare professional.
Instead, a variety of different psychological and physical factors can all contribute to premature ejaculation.
Physical factors that may cause or contribute to PE include:
Sensitivity. Some men experience premature ejaculation because of a sensitive penis, which causes them to ejaculate earlier than expected.
Changes in hormone levels. Abnormal levels of some hormones, such as prolactin, luteinizing hormone (LH) and/or thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) may cause you to develop premature ejaculation.
Prostate and/or urethra inflammation. Inflammation and/or infection that affects your urethra or prostate gland may cause premature ejaculation.
Abnormal brain chemical levels. Some research indicates that low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin may shorten ejaculation latency.
Psychological factors that cause or contribute to PE include sexual performance anxiety, stress, depression, unrealistic expectations about your sexual performance, or a lack of self-confidence and poor body image.
Our full guide to premature ejaculation goes into more detail about these factors and the impact they can have on your sexual function.
Lidocaine is a local anesthetic that’s used to numb specific areas of tissue. It’s one of the most commonly used anesthetics in the world, applied either as an injection or locally as a cream or spray.
As an anesthetic spray, lidocaine can be both a highly effective pain reliever and a treatment for premature ejaculation due to its numbing effects.
If you’ve ever had dental surgery, you’ve likely had lidocaine or a similar anesthetic or analgesic applied to your gums.
Yes, the topical anesthetic your local dentist uses for pain relief before a root canal is the same stuff you can spray on your penis to rejuvenate your bedroom game. We know — what a time to be alive.
Anyway, lidocaine works by reducing sensitivity in your skin. When it’s applied to the tip of your penis, lidocaine makes you feel less sensation during foreplay and penetrative sex.
This reduces your risk of ejaculating earlier than you or your partner would like you to when you have sex.
Studies of lidocaine sprays for premature ejaculation show that they work well. For example, in a small study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research in 2003, a group of 11 men were treated with a lidocaine spray and asked to measure their time until ejaculation.
The men were also asked to measure their intravaginal ejaculation latency time (IVELT) before using the lidocaine numbing spray for comparison.
After applying the sprayable dose of lidocaine before sex, the men’s average time to ejaculation increased from 1 minute and 24 seconds to 11 minutes and 21 seconds.
The men who used the lidocaine spray didn’t report any negative effects on their orgasm quality or sexual experience. They also reported higher levels of sexual satisfaction, as did their sexual partners.
This is a significant increase, and it suggests that lidocaine can have a seriously positive effect on sexual stamina. However, it’s worth noting that the spray used in this study also contained small amounts of prilocaine, a similar topical anesthetic medication.
Using lidocaine spray for premature ejaculation is quick and simple. Apply lidocaine delay spray to the head and shaft of your penis 10 to 15 minutes before sex. Then, rub it in a circle-shaped pattern until the spray is absorbed by your penis.
Lidocaine sprays for premature ejaculation are typically sold over the counter in a metered-dose bottle or aerosol canister, allowing you to apply one or several sprays to your penis.
It’s best to start with a single metered-dose spray prior to sexual activity. If you don’t notice any improvement in stamina and ejaculation time, you can increase the dose within the instructions provided with your lidocaine spray.
Everyone is different, meaning you might need multiple sprays before you achieve your desired level of sensitivity.
Lidocaine spray usually lasts for two to three hours after it’s applied. After spraying lidocaine on your penis, it’s best to wash your penis with a wet towel or take a shower to remove any excess spray before you engage in sexual activity.
It’s also important to wash your hands, as any leftover spray may cause your hands and fingers to feel numb for several hours.
It’s common and normal to have questions about any type of medication, including lidocaine for premature ejaculation. We’ve answered a range of frequently asked questions about lidocaine’s effects and common delay spray side effects below.
Lidocaine is one of the world’s most common, thoroughly tested anesthetics. Overall, it’s a safe and well-tolerated medication for the vast majority of people. If you are allergic to lidocaine, you should not use lidocaine sprays to treat premature ejaculation.
Before using lidocaine on your penis, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider. Let them know about your medical history, any underlying conditions you have or medications you use or have recently used.
Used at the recommended dose, side effects from lidocaine spray are mild and uncommon. The majority of men who use lidocaine spray, condoms with lidocaine or other products for managing penile sensitivity report no serious issues.
However, it’s possible to experience lidocaine spray side effects if you use an excessive amount of spray. Some of the most common lidocaine spray side effects are:
Temporary loss of sensitivity (which could cause erectile dysfunction)
Excessive numbness if lidocaine spray is overused
Skin irritation and/or a burning sensation
Most of the side effects of lidocaine spray can be avoided by using a small amount of spray the first time you use this medication, then gradually increasing the dose based on your experience and results.
Lidocaine is an FDA category B medication, meaning it’s typically safe for use during pregnancy in healthy people.
However, if your partner is pregnant, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider together before using lidocaine or similar numbing products, such as condoms for premature ejaculation, during sex.
Topical lidocaine and Viagra (sildenafil) do not interact with each other and are considered safe to use at the same time. Some studies have looked at the use of Viagra and topical lidocaine in combination as a treatment for PE, with no reported negative effects.
However, it’s worth noting that present research doesn’t indicate that these two medications are more effective when used together — only that they’re both effective (sildenafil for ED, as well as topical lidocaine for premature ejaculation) when used on their own.
The effects of lidocaine can last for one to three hours. Most of the time, you’ll feel the numbing effects of lidocaine spray and reduced sensitivity during sex for about one hour after applying it to your penis.
You can apply lidocaine spray while your penis is erect or flaccid. Make sure to apply the spray to the head and shaft of your penis, as these areas are the most sensitive during foreplay and penetrative sex.
As long as your partner doesn’t have a lidocaine allergy, lidocaine spray is safe for oral sex. As well as waiting for 10 to 15 minutes after applying the spray, you should clean your penis with a wet towel or take a shower to wash away any excess spray before oral sex.
If your partner accidentally ingests lidocaine orally during sexual activity, you should contact the poison control center in your area immediately.
Lidocaine spray is completely safe to use with a sexual lubricant. Make sure to wait for 10 to 15 minutes before sex to ensure the lidocaine dry spray is effective, and to wash off any remaining spray before sexual activity.
Provided you wait for 10 to 15 minutes before having sex, it’s uncommon for lidocaine sprays to have any effect on your partner’s level of sensitivity during sex.
To reduce your risk of transferring topical lidocaine to your partner, make sure to wash away any excess spray before you have sex.
Lidocaine spray is not a form of contraception and cannot be used to prevent pregnancy. It also doesn’t provide any protection from STDs, meaning you’ll want to use a condom or other form of protection to stay safe.
Lidocaine spray is an effective way to treat premature ejaculation. However, it’s far from the only treatment option that’s available.
Other options for increasing your ejaculation time, avoiding premature ejaculation and improving your sexual performance include:
Other topical treatments. In addition to sprays, other topical anesthetic products can help to reduce sensitivity in your penis and make it easier for you to delay ejaculation during sex.
For example, our Clockstopper Climax Delay Wipes use benzocaine — a similar topical anesthetic — to help you stay in the moment for longer. You can also purchase condoms with lidocaine to reduce sensitivity and delaying ejaculation.
Behavioral techniques. Certain behavioral techniques, such as the start-stop strategy and squeeze technique, can be performed during sex to control stimulation and prevent early ejaculation.
Masturbating before sex. Masturbating a few hours before sex may increase stamina by taking advantage of your refractory period — a short period in which you’re less able to reach orgasm and ejaculate.
Therapy. When premature ejaculation is caused by a mental health issue, taking part in therapy may help. We offer therapy online as part of our range of mental health services, allowing you to connect with a provider from your home.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications, which are widely used to treat depression and anxiety, can slow ejaculation and help you last for longer in bed.
Common SSRIs for premature ejaculation include sertraline (the active ingredient in the antidepressant Zoloft®) and paroxetine (Paxil®).
Our guide to preventing premature ejaculation covers all of these treatments in more detail, with detailed scientific study data for each treatment option.
Used 10 to 15 minutes before sex, lidocaine sprays like our Delay Spray for Men can help you last for longer in bed, avoid reaching orgasm and ejaculating too early and enjoy a more satisfying sexual experience with your partner.
Using lidocaine numbing spray is generally a simple process. If you’re not sure exactly how to use delay spray, or if you’re concerned about numbing your penis too much for enjoyable sex, it’s best to ask your healthcare provider for help.
Dealing with premature ejaculation can be a stressful experience. However, it doesn’t need to be permanent.