Medically reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 8/30/2021
Could the secret to lasting longer in bed come in the form of a moist towelette?
There are countless products for premature ejaculation on the market — and the medicated wipe might certainly be one of the least expected.
And yet, it makes perfect sense: A topical agent applied to the surface of the penis (with all those nerve endings) seems like the obvious mode of delivery, right?
Sexual dysfunction is a complicated problem, and premature ejaculation, in particular, does not work as simply you might assume.
But there is substantial evidence to suggest that controlling ejaculation might be as simple as using little, prepackaged wipes.
For more on understanding how benzocaine wipes could work, it’s helpful to cover some basics about the penis. Let’s start with an important question: What is premature ejaculation?
Premature ejaculation (PE) is one of the most common conditions that affects the sex lives of men today.
Estimates suggest that as many as 39 percent of men in the United States suffer from some degree of PE in their lives.
One quick night doesn’t mean you’re got PE, though. The World Health Organization defines PE as persistent or recurring uncontrolled ejaculation “with minimal stimulation before, on or shortly after penetration and before the person wishes it,” which then causes the sufferer and or his partner distress or frustration.
Here’s a bulleted list of requirements to diagnose PE:
Ejaculation with minimal stimulation
Sufferer has little or no voluntary control
Causes the sufferer and/or their partner distress
Is persistent or recurring
You may have premature ejaculation if you meet some or all of these requirements (a healthcare professional can tell you more).
But the good news is that treatments are available, including the likes of premature ejaculation wipes.
Premature ejaculation wipes are wipes that deliver a numbing agent like benzocaine to the tip of your penis, which in turn numbs and therefore delays your ejaculatory response.
Side effects mostly include hyper anesthesia for the user and their partner — and excessive numbing of the penis (and/or vagina in heterosexual relationships) can make sex difficult.
In rare cases, some numbing agents have also had the side effect of irritating skin.
Control over ejaculation can be boosted by several numbing agents, including lidocaine, prilocaine and benzocaine.
Benzocaine is one of the go-to topical (local) anesthetics for numbing, and is commonly used for dental and other uses.
In fact, it’s one of the oldest known pharmacological solutions for premature ejaculation.
Benzocaine works by numbing the glans, which in turn desensitizes your penis, making it more difficult to achieve orgasm.
Premature ejaculation wipes work as a simple, topical anesthetic. The wipe is saturated with a benzocaine solution (typically four percent), and is individually packaged.
Benzocaine premature ejaculation wipes are simple to use: Open the package and use the wipe to spread the benzocaine solution onto the glans of the penis, and then dispose of it.
As a note, this is probably a great time to remind you that you should avoid touching it directly with your finger tips, unless you want those to feel numb as well.
Benzocaine is approved for use by the FDA in gel, liquid and lozenge formulations, but spray options are currently not approved by the FDA for use.
How long Benzocaine takes to work and how long its effects last can vary depending on the product you use, but generally, you should start to feel reduced sensation within a few minutes, and can expect that to last for about one to two hours.
Benzocaine is primarily used to reduce pain, but its numbing abilities can also be used in intimate situations to desensitize pleasurable sensations.
The results for Benzocaine, in particular, are impressive.
One randomized study using four percent benzocaine wipes showed that the treatment group found greater improvement, lower distress over control of ejaculation and higher sexual satisfaction.
Currently, benzocaine is available in concentrations up to 20 percent, though you likely wouldn’t want to use it at that strength.
Benzocaine has been shown in studies to be an effective treatment, causing a statistically significant change in time to ejaculation for users in a randomized, placebo-controlled story.
There are several ways to deploy benzocaine. Benzocaine liquid, for instance, can be squirted as an aerosol spray, or added as part of a cream.
Wipes provide a simple application solution that is more accurate that a spray, and does not have the lingering effects of a cream.
While benzocaine is a relatively safe and effective treatment, it does have some side effects you should be aware of, should you choose to use this treatment.
The most obvious side effect of benzocaine is excessive numbing, which could result in having to postpone sex.
Many of the most severe side effects manifest as a variety of issues related to your blood, leading to a condition known as methemoglobinemia.
Benzocaine in high doses can also cause cyanosis (a discoloration of the blood due to low oxygen levels that often results in pale skin), or hypoxia (a reduction in oxygen levels in the blood commonly seen as altitude sickness).
Benzocaine in rare cases can cause dyspnea, which is an issue that causes difficulty with breathing.
These conditions don’t improve with oxygen administration.
As such, this is a potentially dangerous medication for people with reduced lung function.
Benzocaine can also cause dizziness, drowsiness, edema, cardiac arrest and some allergic reactions for people who are allergic to ester-type local anesthetics.
Children and the elderly are more prone to hypersensitivity from benzocaine.
While there’s significant scientific research to show that benzocaine wipes are an effective tool for treating premature ejaculation, alternative treatments abound, and some of them are worth mentioning as secondary treatments that might supplement your problem-solving arsenal.
Here are a few of the more well-known PE treatment options:
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or SSRIs) prevent the brain from reducing the available supply of serotonin, and can be effective for treating depression, which is thought to be caused by serotonin imbalances.
One unintended consequence of taking SSRIs is delayed ejaculation, and so some SSRIs are prescribed off-label for men who suffer from premature ejaculation.
SSRIs have shown a lot of promise as a treatment of premature ejaculation. A 2007 study involving SSRIs and 100 sexually functional, “normally potent” men found that 100 percent of the men experienced significant increases in their Arab Index of Premature Ejaculation (AIPE) which is the standard used to gauge PE severity.
The start-stop technique is just what it sounds like: Just before you’re about to orgasm, stop having sex and then start again when the urge to ejaculate goes away.
According to experts, you’re meant to repeat the start-stop technique several times.
Limited studies have shown modest results, however. The problem is that the best results (like one small study that found the start-stop increased the time to ejaculate by several minutes) only looked at the start-stop alongside other therapies, which leaves questions of what was really behind the change in time to ejaculation.
Pelvic floor exercises (or kegels) are a type of exercise that can increase ejaculatory time. You do a kegel by contracting the pelvic floor muscles — the ones that control the flow of urine — and holding the squeeze for several seconds before releasing.
A 2019 systematic review in the journal Physiotherapy concluded that for otherwise healthy men, pelvic floor muscle training appears effective in treating premature ejaculation.”
The review, however, cautioned that there was a wide range of success rates, and that the optimal technique has not been defined by research.
There’s also reason to believe that pelvic floor exercises might not help everyone, so multiple treatments may be your best bet.
Speaking of multiple treatments, another option is the “squeeze” technique. Just before orgasm, you pull out and gently squeeze the tip of your penis for 30 seconds or so in order to decrease your level of arousal.
You may have to repeat the squeeze maneuver several times before returning to sex.
The most obvious limitation of this technique is that it requires you to have the self control to stop, pull out and squeeze your penis.
But having to stop in the middle of sex might also cause you to feel ashamed with an unsupportive or new partner — so this may be best considered a last resort.
Premature ejaculation wipes may seem like one of the simplest options for treating PE and increasing your sexual satisfaction.
After all, they’re small, portable and effective as a treatment the moment your sex life heats up, rather than over the long haul like SSRIs.
But as much as we’d like to give you a thumbs up and send you on your way, we have another responsibility: to remind you that your solution search should involve a healthcare professional.
Like many “common” conditions that millions suffer from, premature ejaculation could potentially be a sign of a bigger medical issue. If nothing else, ongoing premature ejaculation issues can be damaging to sexual relationships, and some men will avoid sexual activities to prevent embarrassment.
That’s not a solution, long or short term.
Your PE may be solved with a wipe, but a more deeply rooted issue may still need the attention of a healthcare provider.
Do this right: Start with professional help, and make sure you get a clean bill of health (for yourself and your penis).