What is Benzocaine & What is It Used For?

Angela Sheddan

Medically reviewed by Angela Sheddan, DNP, FNP-BC

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 1/15/2022

The condom in the wallet is a fairly commonly accepted cultural norm these days, but for many men, the everyday carry toolkit for better sex doesn’t stop at protection. 

For men with erectile dysfunction, for instance, it may be a good idea to carry a pill — sildenafil or any of the others in the myriad of ED-busting options presently available. 

For men with premature ejaculation, there are carry-friendly products, as well — like benzocaine wipes. 

If you’re struggling with premature ejaculation, benzocaine may or may not be familiar to you — it’s used in a variety of other treatment scenarios, for many other reasons. But for sex life improvement, its benefits are many if used correctly.

What Is Benzocaine?

In its simplest form, benzocaine is an anesthetic. It’s typically used locally for the management of pain. 

The FDA does not currently approve of spray delivery systems, and it’s not prescribed or approved for children under two years of age.

Benzocaine works by inhibiting sodium channels in your nerve system — essentially, it prevents your pain receptors from being activated.

In some rare cases, benzocaine can have side effects, though it is largely considered safe and low risk. In some cases, it can cause drowsiness or dizziness, as well as cardiac arrest, edema and even convulsions. 

As a result, the elderly and young children are generally warned as they can be more prone to negative or adverse effects — seek medical attention for signs of serious side effects.

What Is Benzocaine Used for?

Benzocaine products are available in commercial, over-the-counter products, and are often used to treat pain in infants, in sore throat sprays, on insect bites as benzocaine topical and to relieve pain in minor traumas. 

It’s also often used as a dental anesthetic in the relief of oral pain and toothache pain.

Benzocaine is helpful in temporary relief and pain management, and can be applied or delivered in the form of a gel, a liquid or even a lozenge as benzocaine oral relief. 

Generally, it’s most effective on surface pain — sore throats and dental issues, as well as some medical procedures like intubation.

Of course, there’s another place you may see it employed besides in the context of relief of pain: the sensitivity of your penis.

Products like premature ejaculation wipes frequently use benzocaine. Here, the most common side effect is excessive numbing of the penis or vagina in heterosexual couples, which can make sex difficult if it becomes a problem. 

But numbing with benzocaine is effective — in fact, it’s one of the oldest medical treatment options for premature ejaculation.

The wipes are used to numb the glans of the penis, which in turn reduces sensitivity and, in some cases, makes it more difficult to orgasm — and therefore, more difficult to orgasm too soon.

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Can Benzocaine Prevent Premature Ejaculation?

So, does it work? Can benzocaine solve your premature ejaculation issues? 

Well, according to some studies, yes. 

Benzocaine increased ejaculatory control in one study, in which the use of topical benzocaine wipes reduced the sexual distress felt by PE sufferers. 

Another randomized placebo-controlled study showed a drastic time to ejaculation increase for users.

After two months of use, men who used the PE wipes before sex had an increased intravaginal ejaculation latency time (IELT) of over 320 seconds, as opposed to the placebo-controlled group, whose latency stayed consistent at around 110 seconds.

That’s a nearly three-fold increase over baseline in two months of use. 

Men in the test group also noted statistically significant higher levels of sexual satisfaction over the placebo group, too.

One point we need to make: if you plan to use benzocaine for PE control, make sure to buy products designed for just that — pain benzocaine is concentrated typically around 20%, which is too much for sexual use. Premature ejaculation wipes are concentrated around 4%, respectively.

Other Treatment Options for Premature Ejaculation

While benzocaine might offer you some, err, bedroom benefits, there are other ways to address and treat premature ejaculation and its symptoms. 

The honest truth is that there’s not an abundance of solutions to early ejaculation, and some of the things that are recommended today have questionable efficacy. 

Still, some things that haven’t been thoroughly proven might be a great help to your intimate interactions. 

So consider these:

Take a Break and Run Out the Clock

If you’re on your last lap and your partner is just getting out of the gate, you may want to remember that this isn’t a race — pump your brakes. 

Employing something often referred to as the “Start-Stop Technique,” you can essentially take a mid-session break to, well, focus on your partner for a bit. 

The science backing this as effective isn’t great, partly because you’re essentially relying on your own self-control to make it work. 

But, if used properly, the start-stop technique can definitely throttle your motor back, let your partner catch up and, with other treatments, make you both very happy when you cross the finish line. 

Kegel Your Way to Victory

Kegels are a remarkable exercise when you consider the number of benefits they have for both women and men. 

Also known as pelvic floor exercises, these are basically just high rep muscle contractions of the muscle group you use to pee. 

Studies have shown kegels can indeed give you control back and reduce your premature ejaculation symptoms. 

We’ve talked more about kegels — including how to do them and how often you should do them — in our guide to Pelvic Floor Exercises for Men.

Squeeze Out a Few Extra Minutes 

The aptly named “Squeeze Technique” is another somewhat dubious way to deal with premature ejaculation symptoms. 

You’re basically stopping and pulling out, except in this case, you’re also gently but firmly squeezing the head of your penis to reduce your sensitivity and cut back the momentum. 

The challenge here is having the wits about you to employ this technique, while at the same time explaining that you don’t, in fact, have a masochistic kink to your partner (unless you do, in which case, this might be your best option).

This was one of the few medically recommended solutions for premature ejaculation 30 years ago — thankfully, we have a few more options to choose from these days. 

Take a Pill

There’s no “little blue pill” for this particular penis problem, but another type of medication altogether may actually have hidden PE benefits for you to explore. 

Research has shown that Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) might affect the link between penis and brain. 

Often called a sexual side effect, this “benefit” of antidepressants might be just what you need, particularly if your healthcare provider thinks you might be a good candidate for it. 

Some studies have even shown that 100 percent (yes, literally everyone) saw an improvement in symptoms using antidepressants for premature ejaculation. That’s a tough number to beat.

Use a Different Condom 

Safety is an important part of intimacy, but another reason you may want to keep a few condoms on hand is that they may reduce your premature ejaculation issues. 

You may be using one that still leaves you too sensitive, in which case it may be time to go thicker. Better yet, consider one with numbing properties — though if you plan to do this, consider talking to a healthcare provider first.

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What to Do If You Have Premature Ejaculation

Benzocaine is just one of the effective ways to address premature ejaculation issues. As we mentioned above, a litany of options are available to you — the question is: which one will work best for your needs? 

What we can say with certainty is that you’re most likely to find the right treatment for premature ejaculation with the help of a healthcare professional.

The benefits of consulting a professional go beyond access to prescription medications — a healthcare professional can also help you identify other common medical conditions that might be contributing to (or increasing your risk of) premature ejaculation. 

If you’ve had issues before staying in the game until the end, you know how damaging PE can be to your confidence, your communication abilities and to your relationships as a whole. 

While some of that can be resolved with honesty and starting a dialogue, the most effective way to solve the problem and get back to enjoying intimacy is with the help of a professional.

Avoiding the problem is not a solution, so start today by reaching out. Your partner and your penis will both thank you.

9 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

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  2. Myers, C., & Smith, M. (2019). Pelvic floor muscle training improves erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation: a systematic review. Physiotherapy, 105(2), 235–243. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30979506/.
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  6. Hyun J. S. (2017). AB012. Update on treatments for premature ejaculation. Translational Andrology and Urology, 6(Suppl 3), AB012. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5565572/.
  7. Ridwan Shabsigh, Michael A. Perelman, Robert H. Getzenberg, Allison Grant, Jed Kaminetsky. RANDOMIZED, PLACEBO-CONTROLLED STUDY TO EVALUATE THE EFFICACY, SAFETY, AND TOLERABILITY OF BENZOCAINE WIPES IN SUBJECTS WITH PREMATURE EJACULATION. Journal of Men's Health. 2019. 15(3);80-88. https://www.jomh.org/articles/10.22374/jomh.v15i3.156.
  8. Shabsigh, R., Ridwan Shabsigh More articles by this author, Kaminetsky, J., Jed Kaminetsky More articles by this author, Yang, M., Michael Yang More articles by this author, Perelman, M., Michael Perelman (n.d.). PD69-02 double-blind, randomized controlled trial of TOPICAL 4% BENZOCAINE wipes for management of PREMATURE Ejaculation: Interim analysis. The Journal of Urology. https://www.auajournals.org/doi/10.1016/j.juro.2017.02.3143.
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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.