Advertisement

What causes premature ejaculation (PE)?

Jennifer Landa, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
Premature ejaculation (PE) is a common sexual dysfunction affecting 20-30% of men worldwide.  There is a lot that is still unknown regarding PE.  The cause involves multiple factors that may include certain genetic factors, especially in the case of lifelong PE.  In PE that develops at some point in life and wasn’t always present, it may be due to hormone changes, changes in urological functioning and changes in the function of the nerves that supply the penis or can even be caused by psychological issues. 
Madeleine M. Castellanos, MD
Psychiatry
Premature ejaculation (PE) has a variety of causes, physical, psychological, and otherwise, which aren't always easy to untangle. Over the years, a number of different causes of PE have been suggested, including psychological problems like anxiety and guilt, bad masturbation habits, greater penile sensitivity, and lack of sexual experience. While there may be some truth to some of these theories, none of them appear to be the only reason a man develops PE.

Instead, research suggests that PE may be genetic -- it's a problem men are born with. Researchers have also uncovered links between PE and changes in the way our nervous system works. Specifically, changes in levels of dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters (the chemical messengers the nervous system relies on to regulate various bodily functions), may be at least partly responsible for PE. That's why medications that affect these neurotransmitters can be helpful in treating PE.

Of course, additional factors may contribute to or worsen PE. For example, many men develop PE as a result of hurrying to finish during masturbation, perhaps because of guilt or shame (or maybe just because they have a lack of privacy, with siblings, parents, or roommates who barge in unannounced), which creates a pattern that is difficult to break in adulthood. Other men have disappointing early partner sex experiences, which may cause performance anxiety about their body's response and their ability to please a partner, in turn making it difficult to relax during sex.
Ian Kerner, PhD
Sexual Health
Although there may be truth to some causes such as anxiety, penile sensitivity, and lack of sexual experience, research suggests that premature ejaculation stems from a problem in the nervous system and levels of two neurotransmitters, which regulate bodily functions. Certain medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), increase the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which can help a man last longer.

Continue Learning about Premature Ejaculation

Is erectile dysfunction an indicator of cardiovascular disease?
Justin P. Levisay, MDJustin P. Levisay, MD
Erectile dysfunction can be caused by atherosclerotic disease (blockages of arteries). The underlyin...
More Answers
Why is it important for me to manage my premature ejaculation?
Ian Kerner, PhDIan Kerner, PhD
It is important to manage premature ejaculation (PE), as when a guy suffers from PE he’s rarely able...
More Answers
What Causes Premature Ejaculation (PE)?
What Causes Premature Ejaculation (PE)?
Does Premature Ejaculation Get Better Over Time?
Does Premature Ejaculation Get Better Over Time?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.