Medically reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 10/21/2022
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 just stop at protection.
For men with erectile dysfunction (ED), for instance, it may also be a good idea to carry a pill to prevent erection issues, such as sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra®) or one of the many other ED-busting options presently available.
For men with premature ejaculation, there are carry-friendly products as well, including sprays, wipes and other topical products that contain benzocaine.
What is benzocaine? Benzocaine is an anesthetic that reduces sensitivity. When it’s applied to certain areas of your penis, it can help you to last longer in bed and avoid common issues like premature ejaculation.
If you’re struggling with premature ejaculation, adding benzocaine to your sexual health toolkit could be a good option, both for yourself and for your partner.
Below, we’ve explained what benzocaine is, as well as how it works as a topical anesthetic for premature ejaculation and other conditions.
We’ve also shared some other treatment options that you may want to consider if you’re one of the many men affected by premature ejaculation, from behavioral therapy techniques to pelvis muscle exercises, oral medications and more.
Benzocaine is a local anesthetic -- a type of medication that reduces sensitivity by blocking the effects of local nerves. It’s a popular medication that’s used for everything from reducing pain that’s caused by injuries to controlling sensitivity during dental procedures.
Your healthcare provider might use benzocaine to numb your skin before injecting a medication, to numb your gums before operating on your teeth, or to make cleaning and treating minor cuts less of a painful experience.
Used effectively, benzocaine can reduce the anxiety you might feel when you’re in your doctor’s office and need to have something treated physically.
From a technical perspective, benzocaine works by inhibiting the effects of sodium, which plays a vital role in activating the local nerve endings throughout your body that communicate directly with your central nervous system.
You can think of benzocaine as blocking the nerve messages that cause you to feel sensations such as pain or, in the case of sex, pleasure. Applying benzocaine to your body “turns down the volume” in the target area, so to speak.
Unlike general anesthetics, benzocaine doesn’t affect your consciousness. You don’t “go under'' when you use it, and there isn’t any risk of you behaving in a strange way or accidentally saying something embarrassing.
Instead, you’ll still be totally alert and awake, just with reduced sensitivity in the specific areas of your body that receives benzocaine treatment.
As a treatment for premature ejaculation, benzocaine works by reducing sensitivity just enough to delay ejaculation, without overly numbing your penis. It turns down the volume just enough to help you last longer, without making sex less pleasurable.
Since the ejaculation process is controlled by inputs from your penile nerves, a small reduction in the sensitivity level of your penis can have a surprisingly large effect on your sexual stamina and overall performance in bed.
Benzocaine is considered a safe and effective medication, especially when it’s applied topically (meaning to the skin). However, in rare cases, benzocaine exposure can cause adverse effects, including drowsiness, dizziness, skin irritations, swelling and allergic reactions.
In very rare cases, benzocaine can cause more serious issues such as hypotension (low blood pressure), bradycardia (slow heart rate), convulsions and cardiac arrest.
Many side effects of benzocaine occur more frequently in young children and the elderly. If you have concerns about common side effects from benzocaine, it’s important to let your healthcare provider know before using this medication for premature ejaculation or any other condition.
It’s also important to talk to your healthcare provider if you have a history of health issues, such as heart disease, shortness of breath or if you use any other medications that could cause drug interactions.
As you’d expect, benzocaine is used to reduce sensation in certain areas of your body and stop certain things, such as injections or minor medical procedures, from causing pain.
Benzocaine is used in over-the-counter anesthetic medications and in clinical settings, such as a doctor or dentist’s office.
Over-the-counter benzocaine creams, gels, liquids and lozenges are often used to relieve local pain, such as pain that can occur after an insect bite, sunburn, other minor burns or sore throat that may develop as the result of a viral or bacterial infection.
In a clinical setting, benzocaine is generally used to reduce sensation during dental procedures, injections, or other minor procedures that cause pain and discomfort.
It’s also commonly used in oral drug products such as oral gel to treat toothache, canker sores, cold sores and other forms of mouth pain.
Benzocaine doesn’t actually treat these conditions -- that is, it won’t heal them. However, it can provide temporary relief from pain that makes dealing with these issues easier while you focus on getting better.
As a form of pain relief, benzocaine is fast-acting and convenient. It usually takes a few minutes to start working and can continue acting as a topical pain reliever for up to 15 minutes.
For medical procedures that involve intubation (the insertion of a breathing tube into your throat and windpipe), benzocaine products are often used to reduce discomfort.
Of course, there’s another common issue you may see benzocaine employed for besides relief of pain: as a treatment for premature ejaculation.
The same characteristics that make benzocaine an excellent option for controlling sensation on your skin and inside your mouth also apply to your penis. This means that benzocaine can help to lower the excessive level of sensation that can contribute to early ejaculation.
Our Clockstopper Climax Delay Wipes, for example, contain benzocaine to reduce sensitivity in your penis and improve your sexual stamina, all without negatively affecting sexual sensation.
Numbing with benzocaine is typically effective -- in fact, it’s one of the oldest medical treatment options for premature ejaculation.
Wipes such as these are used to numb the glans of your penis -- the bulbous, rounded head of your penis that’s most highly sensitive. This means that you may be able to have sex for longer, with a reduced risk of the sensation of sex causing you to ejaculate before you’d like to.
Benzocaine comes in several different forms. As an over-the-counter medication, you can find benzocaine spray, benzocaine gels, benzocaine lozenges and topical wipes for reducing pain, all of which contain benzocaine as an active ingredient.
The amount of benzocaine in these products can vary. Most benzocaine solutions and sprays contain 5, 10 or 20 percent benzocaine, with milder products designed for sexual performance use occasionally containing lower concentrations of benzocaine.
So, do benzocaine topical products actually treat premature ejaculation? Can using benzocaine increase your sexual stamina and help you avoid reaching orgasm too early when you have sex with your partner? Well, according to some studies, yes.
Several studies have looked into the effects of benzocaine topical anesthesia creams, gels and other products as premature ejaculation treatments, with generally promising results.
For example, in one study published in the Journal of Urology, researchers looked at the effects of topical wipes that contained 4% benzocaine in men with premature ejaculation. A total of 21 men participated in the study, with 15 given benzocaine wipes and six given placebo wipes.
After two months of treatment, the men who used the benzocaine wipes displayed an increase in their average intravaginal ejaculatory latency time (IELT, or the amount of time that’s required after penetration before ejaculation).
On average, the men’s IELT increased by 231.5 ± 166.9 seconds, compared to an increase of 94.2 ± 67.1 seconds in IELT among the men who used the placebo treatment.
In other words, the men who used the benzocaine wipes were able to last almost four minutes longer in bed after two months of regular use.
While these findings are impressive, there’s one point we need to make. If you plan to use any type of benzocaine wipe, spray or cream for premature ejaculation control, it’s important to pay close attention to its concentration.
Most premature ejaculation wipes for benzocaine contain 4% benzocaine, which is enough to reduce sensitivity without overly numbing your penis.
On the other hand, many benzocaine products designed for pain management are significantly stronger, with up to 20% benzocaine. This is far too much for sexual use, and it’s likely to numb your penis so much that penetrative sex is both uncomfortable and practically impossible.
This type of strong benzocaine product could also significantly increase your risk of dealing with side effects.
To keep yourself safe (and to keep sex pleasurable), check that you’re using a benzocaine wipe, gel or spray that’s designed specifically for use as a premature ejaculation treatment.
Using benzocaine for PE is fairly straightforward. Most products that contain benzocaine come with instructions explaining how to apply them before sex to reduce sensitivity without causing your penis to become overly numb.
For example, our Clockstopper Climax Delay Wipes should be applied directly to the tip of your penis before sex. You’ll then need to let the benzocaine solution dry for five minutes before you penetrate your partner, as this will prevent the solution from being transferred to them.
Make sure to wash your hands after using benzocaine wipes, sprays or other products, as any leftover benzocaine cream or solution could cause your fingers to feel slightly numb.
While benzocaine might offer you some, err, bedroom benefits, there are other ways to address and treat premature ejaculation and its symptoms.
These include behavioral techniques that you can perform while you have sex, such as stopping or gently squeezing your penis as you feel orgasm approaching, as well as medications that you can use before you have sex to delay orgasm and ejaculation.
We’ve discussed these options below and explained how you can use each one to improve your sexual stamina and enjoy longer-lasting, more pleasurable sex with your partner.
If you’re on your last lap and your partner is just getting out of the gate, you may want to keep in mind that sex isn’t a race, and that it’s often best to metaphorically pump your brakes.
By 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.
This technique is simple. As you feel orgasm approaching, simply slow down your movement, or stop any sexual movement completely. As you feel the sensation pass, keep having sex like you normally would, repeating as necessarily whenever you feel like you’re about to ejaculate.
The science backing this up as effective isn’t great, largely 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, give your partner an opportunity to catch up and, with other treatments, make you both very happy when you cross the finish line.
Kegel exercises, or pelvic floor exercises, are exercises that strengthen the muscles under your bladder and large intestine. These muscles all play key parts in controlling your ability to hold in urine and, to some extent, your ejaculatory reflex.
Performing kegel exercises can help to strengthen these muscles, improving your total level of control over your bladder and potentially improving your sexual function.
For example, one systematic review published in the journal Physiotherapy noted that training the pelvic floor muscles seems to improve the symptoms of erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation in otherwise healthy men.
We’ve talked more about kegels, including how to do them and how often you should try them for optimal sexual function, in our guide to pelvic floor exercises for men.
The aptly named “squeeze technique” is another older behavioral technique for slowing down the process of reaching orgasm and dealing with premature ejaculation symptoms.
This technique is similar to the start-stop technique, but instead of simply stopping, you gently squeeze the area between the glans and shaft of your penis when you feel like you’re about to ejaculate.
This cuts back sensation and momentum, giving you a moment to recover before you continue having sex.
The challenge here is having the wits about you to employ this technique at the ideal moment, as it’s not always easy to pull out and gently squeeze your penis in time.
It may also be slightly awkward to explain to your sexual partner that this technique isn’t a type of masochistic kink (seriously, you don’t need to squeeze that hard).
This was one of the few medically recommended solutions for premature ejaculation about 30 years ago, and it’s still a helpful option today. However, thankfully, we also have lots of other options to choose from when it comes to delaying ejaculation.
While Viagra has established a reputation as the “little blue pill” for erectile dysfunction, there’s no such pill specifically for premature ejaculation quite yet.
Luckily, certain other prescription medications can be used off-label to slow down orgasm and ejaculation, improving your stamina in bed.
Research shows that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are typically used for depression and anxiety disorders, can also delay orgasm and ejaculation.
Often called a sexual side effect, this “benefit” of antidepressants might be just what you need, particularly if you have premature ejaculation that doesn’t seem to improve with other forms of treatment.
Some studies have even shown that 100 percent of men (yes, literally every man that took part in the study) showed improvements in premature ejaculation symptoms after using SSRIs such as fluoxetine (Prozac®), paroxetine (Paxil®) and escitalopram (Lexapro®).
Not all SSRIs are suitable for premature ejaculation, and some can cause adverse effects and safety risks if misused. As such, it’s important to talk with your healthcare provider to see if this type of treatment is right for you.
Safety is an important part of intimacy, but another reason you may want to keep condoms on hand is that they might reduce sensitivity during sex and make it easier to gain control of your premature ejaculation issues.
If you currently use thin condoms designed for sensitivity, try replacing them with thicker ones that improve stamina. Many condom brands sell “extended pleasure” condoms for premature ejaculation prevention, which may help to enhance your sexual performance.
Some of these condoms even contain small amounts of topical anesthetics, further reducing sensitivity and helping you to last for longer in bed.
Premature ejaculation can be an immensely frustrating issue to deal with. Not only can it make sex less enjoyable for you and you partner, but it can also become a vicious cycle that reduces your confidence and potentially leads to sexual performance anxiety.
Benzocaine is one of several effective ways to deal with premature ejaculation. Others include behavioral techniques, pelvic floor exercises and even prescription medications to help you get more control over the process of orgasm and ejaculation.
All in all, a litany of options are available to you. The question is: which one works 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.
We offer a wide range of premature ejaculation treatments online, including benzocaine-based Clockstopper Climax Delay Wipes, a lidocaine-based Delay Spray for Men and SSRIs for more stubborn PE that doesn’t respond to over-the-counter treatments.
Premature ejaculation can be a serious annoyance, and avoiding the problem -- while it may be easy in the short term -- isn’t a solution. As such, it’s always best to reach out and get help, be it in the form of wipes, sprays or a pill you can take prior to sex.
Not only will you feel much more confident, you’ll also be more able to enjoy having sex, giving both your partner and your penis plenty of reasons to thank you.