Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 4/12/2021
About one in three men will experience premature ejaculation at some point in life, making premature ejaculation one of the most common sexual dysfunctions. However common, dealing with premature ejaculation can be a frustrating, stressful experience.
Premature ejaculation, or PE, is a lack of control over ejaculation. If you have PE, you might ejaculate just a few minutes or seconds after penetration. You may also ejaculate unintentionally during foreplay.
While it’s common for PE to happen occasionally, when it occurs regularly, it can take a major toll on your sex life. People use all types of strategies to help with the issue, but lidocaine spray for premature ejaculation, such as hims' delay spray, is a helpful option to help you last longer during sex and deal with PE for good.
Below, we’ve explained how and why premature ejaculation happens, how lidocaine spray can help, and how you can use lidocaine to treat PE and enjoy better sex with your partner. We’ve also answered some of the most common questions about using lidocaine spray to treat PE.
Before we get into why premature ejaculation happens, it’s important to cover what premature ejaculation actually is. Clinically, premature ejaculation is defined as “when ejaculation happens sooner than a man or his partner would like during sex.”
On average, it takes about five minutes to seven minutes for a man to ejaculate during sex. However, there’s no specific time used to diagnose premature ejaculation.
Ejaculating within one minute of vaginal penetration and without the individual wanting it
Ejaculating quickly during all or almost all sexual activity 75 percent to 100 percent of the time
Consistent persistence of symptoms for at least six months or more
The dysfunction causes clinically significant distress to the patient
The dysfunction can’t be explained by things like medication side effects, non-sexual mental disorders, relationship stress or other stressors
There’s also a frequency component to PE. It’s totally normal to ejaculate earlier than you’d like to sometimes. PE becomes problematic when you frequently ejaculate during foreplay or soon after penetration, to the point that it affects your sexual enjoyment and self-confidence.
It’s worth noting that premature ejaculation is very common. Studies show that as many as 39 percent of men experience PE at some point, meaning you’re definitely not alone if you experience PE.
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 psychological and physical factors can all contribute to premature ejaculation.
Physical factors include:
Sensitivity. Some men experience premature ejaculation because of a sensitive penis, which causes them to ejaculate earlier than expected.
Prostate and/or thyroid problems, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), can contribute to PE.
Men who have back pain caused by lower lumbosacral lesions to the spine may have PE following an injury, according to a study published in Spinal Cord.
Psychological factors include:
Anxiety about sexual performance can increase your risk of experiencing premature ejaculation, especially early in a relationship.
Depression, stress, and other psychological issues can affect sexual performance, causing you to ejaculate early during foreplay or penetrative sex.
Other relationship problems can also affect your sexual performance and contribute to premature ejaculation.
Our Premature Ejaculation 101 guide goes into more detail on the main causes of PE, as well as common theories about PE that aren’t completely accurate.
Lidocaine, the active ingredient in hims’ delay spray, 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 locally as a spray or creme, or by injection into specific parts of the body.
As an anesthetic spray, lidocaine can be both a very effective pain reliever and a premature ejaculation treatment, due to its numbing effect.
If you’ve ever had dental surgery, you’ve probably had lidocaine or a similar anesthetic or analgesic applied to your gums. Yes, the same topical anesthetic the 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 tissue. When it’s applied to your penis, lidocaine makes you have less sensation during foreplay and penetrative sex. This means you’re less likely to ejaculate earlier than you or your partner would like you to.
Studies of lidocaine sprays show that they work very well as a treatment for PE. In a small 2003 study, men with PE went from an average intravaginal ejaculation latency time (IVELT) of just 84 seconds without the spray to 11 minutes and 21 seconds with it.
The men who used the lidocaine spray didn’t report any negative effects on their orgasm quality or sexual experience. While lidocaine spray affects your sensitivity during sex, it doesn’t overly numb your penis or reduce sexual enjoyment.
As well as increasing the average time to ejaculate, the lidocaine topical spray also improved sexual enjoyment for the men and their partners. The men involved in the study and their partners both reported a significant, consistent improvement in sexual satisfaction from the spray.
Using lidocaine spray for premature ejaculation is simple. Apply lidocaine delay spray to the underside of the head and shaft of your penis 10 minutes to 15 minutes before sex. Then, rub it in a circle-shaped pattern until the spray is absorbed by your penis.
Lidocaine delay spray is often sold OTC 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 one metered-dose spray before sex. If you don’t notice a major improvement in ejaculation time, you can increase the dose within the instructions provided.
Everyone is different, meaning you might need multiple sprays before you achieve your desired level of sensitivity. Once you’ve worked out your dosage, it’s easy to use lidocaine spray before sex to reduce sensitivity to your desired level.
It’s best to wipe your penis with a wet towel or take a shower prior to sex to make sure there’s no spray left on your skin. Don’t forget to wipe your hands, as lidocaine can numb your skin if it’s left there for too long.
It may take five to 15 minutes for lidocaine spray to start working (it is important to note that everyone is different in terms of when lidocaine starts to take effect), meaning you’ll want to wait before you start foreplay or sexual activity.
Check out premature ejaculation spray here.
Lidocaine is one of the world’s most common, thoroughly tested anesthetics. Overall, it’s safe and well-tolerated by the vast majority of people. If you are allergic to lidocaine, you should not use lidocaine sprays to treat ED.
You should discuss your medical history with your healthcare provider before you start using lidocaine spray. In the case of an allergic reaction, contact a healthcare professional immediately for medical advice.
Used at the recommended dose, lidocaine spray side effects are minimal, if non-existent. However, it’s possible to experience lidocaine spray side effects if an excessive amount of spray is used. Some of the most common lidocaine spray side effects are:
Temporary loss of sensitivity, which could lead to difficulty maintaining an erection during foreplay or penetrative sex
Skin irritation and/or a burning sensation
Excessive numbness due to overuse of the spray
Most side effects of lidocaine spray can be avoided by using a small dose of the medication at first, before gradually increasing the dose based on your experience and results.
Lidocaine is an FDA category B medication, meaning it is generally safe for use during pregnancy. However, you shouldn’t consider using lidocaine spray or other numbing products containing lidocaine like numbing condoms without first consulting your healthcare provider if your partner is pregnant or breastfeeding.
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 are both effective (sildenafil with erectile dysfunction, and topical lidocaine with premature ejaculation) when used adjunctly.
The effects of lidocaine can last for up to a few hours. Most of the time, you’ll notice the numbing effects of lidocaine spray 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 wipe your penis with a wet towel or take a shower to wash away any excess spray before oral sex.
In the case of accidental ingestion, contact the poison control center 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 sex, it’s uncommon for lidocaine sprays to have any effect on your partner’s level of sensitivity during sex. Make sure to wash away any excess spray before sex to reduce the risk of transferring topical lidocaine to your partner.
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. Other ways to increase ejaculation time and treat premature ejaculation include:
Lidocaine creams numb the skin of your penis and are meant to be applied to the tip (which is the most sensitive part).
SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) medication, such as sertraline, which can delay ejaculation and improve sexual performance in men prone to PE. Talk to a hims’ healthcare provider today to discuss sertraline for PE.
Sexual techniques, such as the “stop-start” strategy and the “squeeze” technique, can reduce sensation during sexual activity and help you avoid ejaculating earlier than you’d like to.
Masturbating before sex. As simple as it sounds, masturbating before sex can help to increase your ejaculation time. During the refractory period (the recovery time between orgasms), it’s significantly more difficult for you to orgasm again during sex.
Behavioral therapy. Studies show that behavioral therapy can be an effective treatment for PE. In one study, men with PE who were treated using a six-time therapy course had higher CIPE-5 scores (a score used to assess sexual function) than before treatment.
Our guide to preventing premature ejaculation covers all of these treatments in more detail, with real, science-backed data for each treatment option.
Dealing with premature ejaculation can be a stressful experience. However, it doesn’t need to be permanent. From lidocaine spray to behavioral exercises, there are countless ways to treat PE and improve your sexual performance.