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How to stop premature ejaculation?

Pallavi Barnwal
Updated on July 9, 2024
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One of the most common issues that men often struggle with is anxiety around sex. It often manifests in different ways and often it can be uninviting as an act and emotion. To understand what causes anxiety, we have to deduce how we got here. 

Sexual anxiety, also known as sexual performance anxiety (SPA), can leave you worried about your ability to perform during intimacy. It is the feeling that you won’t perform ‘up to the mark’ when engaging in sex. 25% of men i.e. 1 in every 4 men have experienced performance anxiety in bed. While it is frustrating, effective treatments are available to help regain control.

Unfortunately, discussion around the same is taboo and associated with a sense of shame. However, it is important to remember that sex is a natural part of the connection, not a performance.

Sex life: the script that everyone writes

The initial sparks fly… A glance, a touch, a kiss. Clothes shed, exploration begins, and a playful dance with pleasure takes the fore. But somewhere along the line, the focus shifts. 

What starts as a tapestry of connection narrows to a single thread: intercourse, the perceived “goal” of sex. Orgasm becomes the finish line as if it is a box that needs to be checked. 

This goal-oriented approach mirrors societal pressures, where achieving an orgasm brings validation to men. Yet, applied to sex, it breeds anxiety. Failure to reach the “peak” feels like a misstep, forcing a climb back up the mountain of expectation and often too leads to performance anxiety. Think of it this way, because the man has been conditioned to mirror societal pressure he now has the pressure to last for hours with an unattainable penis size. 

What is premature ejaculation?

Premature ejaculation is a medical term describing difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection for a desired length of time during sex. It’s a common problem for men of all ages. 

If a sexual session lasts typically for two minutes and both of you feel satisfied, then there shouldn’t be a problem because the duration of an ideal sex session is subjective. If you find that you are consistently orgasming much sooner than you or your partner would like or if the time it takes you to reach orgasm is usually less than one minute, then you may have premature ejaculation. Also known as “rapid ejaculation” and affects more than one in five men. 

Understanding premature ejaculation
It is important to understand that it is completely normal for your penis to get harder or slightly softer during sexual intercourse. This is a phenomenon that’s common across all men, and most partners don’t even notice!
However, when someone is suffering from performance anxiety, you might focus or pay more attention than usual to this during sex. This act is called spectatoring. This takes them away from the actual enjoyment of sex to a fight or flight response 

How can I stop early ejaculation?

Treatment for premature ejaculation

The good news is that premature ejaculation can be treated relatively easily and the success rates are very high. However, it is important to consider that the mind, body and spirit —all of it are required for intimacy. It is not about genitals.

Society bombards men with a narrow belief that sex is a performance. Magazines, movies, and even porn often showcase unrealistic standards about sex– exaggerated masculinity and erections that defy biology. It is important to have a holistic approach towards intimacy. 

But before we dive deep into how can we cure premature ejaculation, we need to understand how our nervous system responds to anxiety around sex. Our mind, too, has a significant role to play before we move to physical treatments in curing this issue. 

The role of the mind in controlling premature ejaculation

When you are feeling anxious or are overthinking about your performance in bed, you can feel panicky and hence you lose ejaculatory control. This can lead to rapid or premature ejaculation. This also happens when you rush things such as hurrying through foreplay to make the most of boner. 

What is the inner critic in your mind telling you?
Your inner critic is the little voice in your head that tells you unhelpful (often untrue) things about yourself. Their sole purpose is to point out all your flaws. When you have SPA, your inner critic can become very loud, making your anxiety in bed even worse. Men in our community who have SPA shared what their inner critic sounds like—so if all of this sounds familiar, you should know you’re not alone. 

“Just before sex, my inner critic used to act up: ‘This isn’t going to work. They’re just going to spend ages playing with your soft penis trying to get you up, all for nothing. No one wants to play with a soft penis… Why would you put them through this? But I’ve learned to be more optimistic and to tell my inner critic to be quiet.” 

How does the nervous system respond to premature ejaculation?

One of the best ways to control premature ejaculation is to simply focus on mindfulness. Mindfulness here means focusing your attention on your body and mind. When you are mindful about yourself, you consciously choose to focus on breathing. 

Think of it as meditation. It is important to understand how breathing can be used to influence our nervous system and in turn, affect the response towards premature ejaculation.

The nervous system has two main branches

  • The central nervous system (brain and brainstem) 
  • The peripheral nervous system (nerves throughout the body). The peripheral nervous system further divides into three parts: somatic (controls movement), enteric (controls digestion), and autonomic (controls involuntary functions).

The autonomic nervous system has two key parts: the sympathetic system and the parasympathetic system. These systems work in opposition, but together, they maintain a balanced state in our bodies. 

The sympathetic system is responsible for the fight-or-flight response, increasing alertness and arousal. When this system becomes overactive, we can experience anxiety or panic. The parasympathetic system, on the other hand, promotes relaxation and digestion. If this system becomes overly dominant, we might experience sluggishness or even dissociation. Ideally, we want to find a healthy balance between these two systems.

Maintaining balance while breathing is important for many functions, including arousal and achieving an orgasm. It is no secret that arousal is necessary for orgasm, but relaxation is also needed for the penis to get hard. It’s a delicate dance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.

Our nervous system can react anywhere hence we can face performance anxiety with anyone including those we are hooking up with or even long-standing partners. Do you have a new partner and are facing performance anxiety? 

When you are having sex with a new partner or even hooking up—you might face performance anxiety. You might think your new love interest is more experienced than you, or you don’t know what they like sexually, or you could be worried that their last partner was a sex god. These worries can get out of hand, and they can contribute to SPA. It’s important to understand that alongside first date butterflies, sexual anxiety can come alongside too. For men with anxiety, it is important to understand that nerves are a part of the package. 

Improve sex life: Prevent premature ejaculation

Sex therapy offers a different approach to traditional couples therapy. While traditional therapy might explore emotional issues with the assumption they’ll improve sex life, sex therapy directly addresses sexual problems. 

For men with erection difficulties, this allows them to process and talk about performance anxiety in the safe space of therapy. Additionally, therapists can provide exercises to practice at home too.

Remember, partners are attracted to the whole person, not just physical attributes. Imagine showing only your genitals on a date! Sex therapy encourages us to move away from societal myths of “perfect performance” and embrace sex as a holistic experience. It’s about intimate connection and, most importantly, shared pleasure.

Last reviewed on July 15, 2024

Learn more about our editorial process.

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