Of all the questions I am asked by men, this is the one that always tops the list.
Here’s a definitive answer: these are the techniques and solutions that are proven to help men last longer in bed.
Let’s start with a reality check
Most men wildly overestimate what qualifies as premature ejaculation. Asked how long other men last during sex, most say between ten minutes to an hour.
The truth is the average man lasts around two to three minutes during intercourse before ejaculating. Another reputable and much-cited study found an average of 5.4 minutes.
Premature Ejaculation (PE) means you ejaculate before you or your partner are ready. There is no absolute answer to that question because it entirely depends on the people involved. But if you ejaculate within 60 seconds of penetration, it’s likely you’ll be given a diagnosis of PE.
PE affects up to 40 per cent of men of all ages – but the majority who think they suffer from it, don’t.
Stop comparing yourself to porn. This is what happens in the real world.
Don’t fall for other myths either
Lasting longer won’t necessarily make you a better lover either – particularly if you’re sleeping with a woman.
All women climax through clitoral stimulation (direct or indirect), and fingers, your tongue or a vibrator are far more efficient at doing that than your penis thrusting back and forth.
Finish fast but give her an orgasm by one of those methods and everyone is happy. Same goes if you’re sleeping with another man: a practised hand-job or great oral sex is equally as satisfying as penetrative sex.
A healthy lifestyle equals a healthy penis
Some of the best things you can do for your penis don’t involve sex. Exercise, stop smoking, cut down on drinking, eat healthily, manage stress and not only will your penis perform better, you’ll be better placed psychologically to deal with any negative emotions PE throws up.
Especially if you haven’t had sex for a while. Most men take longer the second (third, fourth) time around. Timing is crucial here though: do it too often and too soon before partner sex and your penis might not want to come out to play at all.
Wear a condom
Skip the barely-there brands and op for extra-thick condoms that reduce sensation. It might not be a popular solution but it’s guaranteed to make penetration feel less intense.
Try a delay spray or cream
They used to be rubbish but today’s formulations are now quite effective.
I have one in my range (the Tracey Cox Edge Delay Cream); Promescent (available in the US) is another that gets good results.
Experiment by using a delay spray or cream during masturbation (start with one spray and progress to two), then use during partner sex. Be warned though: some have a numbing effect which can leave your partner unable or slow to orgasm, as well!
Anti-depressants have a positive side-effect
If you take a SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) for depression or anxiety, you may have noticed your ejaculation is delayed.
Research suggests taking an SSRI before sex may help men with PE last four to five times longer. One study, which tested the drug on 100 premature ejaculating men, saw all the men record improvements in staying power. (You can take the medication daily or as needed before sex.)
There are obvious reasons why this method might not be for you. SSRI’s have other side-effects that aren’t great, some people can’t take them and others don’t want to take a drug purely to improve sexual performance.
But it’s an option worth exploring with your doctor if the problem is severe, and you’ve tried everything else.
Viagra and other drugs designed to maintain a strong erection can also have a side effect of delaying ejaculation in some men. (Again, though, check with your doctor before taking any medication.)
PE can affect men at any age but it’s more common among young men. This is for both psychological and physiological reasons. Sex is even more exciting when you’re younger because you haven’t had it as much – which also makes it stressful. Lots of young men experience performance anxiety because they base performance on what they’ve seen in porn. At the same time, your body is in peak condition and nerve-endings tingling, highly sensitive to any stimulation.
Early masturbation experiences also have an effect which is why it’s a good idea to…
Change your masturbation technique
Because we’re taught from an early age that masturbation is ‘naughty’, your first masturbatory experiences as a boy were probably furtive and riddled with guilt.
‘Playing with yourself’ was something you got over with as quickly as possible – fabulous when you’ve only got three minutes before your Mum comes knocking, not so fabulous when you’re with a partner later.
If it still only takes you a few seconds or minutes to masturbate yourself to orgasm, you’ve programmed your penis to ejaculate quickly by ensuring orgasm follows mere minutes (or seconds) after direct stimulation.
Changing your masturbation technique can help ‘retrain’ your penis. Focus less on the most sensitive area (the head or glans) and spend more time on the shaft. Try reversing your hand movement as you feel orgasm approach. Bend your wrist towards you so your fist is twisted, and your palm now faces the opposite side of your penis. This shifts the stimulation to different areas.
Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles
Yep, the same one’s women get told to do after they’ve had a baby. Doing your ‘kegels’ regularly improves erectile function for 75 per cent of men and helps with ejaculatory control.
Identify the right muscles to exercise by cutting off the flow of urine the next time you have a pee. Another way to isolate them: stand in front of a mirror and try to lift your testicles without using your hands.
Now you know which muscle you are working on, tighten and hold for a count of 10, then release. Aim for sets of 10 and work up to between three and five sets a day.
Have sex more often
If you haven’t had sex for a year and about to bed someone you’ve been lusting after for months, it’s normal to lose control quickly.
The more regularly you have sex, the more control you’ll tend to have over ejaculation.
Don’t have a partner? Having regular solo sex also helps.
DON’T choose your favourite position
Certain positions turn us on more or stimulate us more effectively. If you want intercourse to last longer, choose one that isn’t as visually erotic or where you feel less simulated.
Avoid doggie style and missionary: the positions where men are most likely to lose control. Instead, opt for adventurous poses that require you to concentrate or positions that only allow shallow thrusting (side-by-side). Woman on top also works because she can be in control of the thrusting and keep an eye on your arousal level.
Try a different thrusting technique
Ditch the traditional method of thrusting. Instead, penetrate, then grab your partner’s buttocks and grind against them, moving your hips in a circular motion.
Intermittent thrusting also helps reduce intensity. Do one deep, slow thrust, count to five, then repeat with five shallow, slow thrusts, counting to five between each thrust.
Triple the amount of foreplay
Take the focus off yourself and put it on your partner. Give them a massage, deliver oral sex, use your fingers or a sex toy on them. The more often you make them orgasm, the less pressure you’ll feel to hold off on your own.
Switch stimulation regularly
Not only will it keep you hovering rather than climbing steadily toward a climax, switching gives you a stimulation break (and even a tiny one helps).
Change positions. Change rooms. Change the music. Do anything to change the mood, keeping it sexy but maintaining a measure of control.
Try a perpendicular sex position
This allows her to use your penis to masturbate with. (Yes really.)
Lie on top of her but rather than penetrating, position your penis so the shaft is running lengthwise against her vulva/clitoral area and get her to grind against you.
The underside is the most sensitive part (it’s where the frenulum is – the piece of stringy skin where the glans meets the shaft). Using the top side to stimulate her makes you less likely to lose control.
Try the stop-start technique
An old school technique that still works for some.
Step one: involves bringing yourself to the brink during masturbation, then stopping, four times before finally allowing yourself to orgasm. Continue this training for several weeks until you feel you know the point you can bring yourself to without letting go.
Step two: your partner joins you and uses their hand, with you instructing when to start and stop.
Step three: You repeat the initial exercise but this time penetrated.
The secret to getting the ‘stop-start’ right is to focus on pleasure and sensation, rather than trying to distract yourself.
Or the squeeze technique
Another oldie but still a goodie is the squeeze technique.
You (or your partner) place a thumb on the frenulum and wrap two or three fingers tightly around the head of the penis. Then you (or they) squeeze tightly and hold for a few seconds or until the urge to orgasm subsides.
It can also work if you squeeze the base firmly.
The trouble with the stop-start and squeeze techniques is that they interrupt sex. The newer, more partner-friendly approach is ‘peaking’ or ‘edging’.
Master ‘peaking’ or ‘edging’
This technique is based on the premise that the better you know your orgasm, the more you’ll know exactly what’s going to send you over the edge.
It teaches you to ‘score’ your arousal level.
Think about your last great orgasm moment and give that a 10. Zero is when you’re at your in-laws making small talk in between passing the potatoes. As you move from no arousal to lift-off, you’ll move through the spectrum from 1-10. The aim is to establish your ‘number’: a level of stimulation that’s enjoyable but where you can still exercise control. If your number is a ‘4’, it means you can safely play around that level of arousal without ejaculating.
Practise while masturbating first. When you’re ready to try it with a partner, explain how the technique works. Agree on how you’ll let them know you’re edging dangerously close to your number (verbally or a squeeze on the arm). If you’re approaching your ‘4’ arousal level, stop or slow things down until your arousal level drops.
Is there an app to help you last longer?
Of course there is!
My inbox is inundated with new products like Myhixel (a device and app), pea (getpea.com) which guides you through a program which teaches peaking. You can also buy penis rings fitted with technology which track your performance and monitor erectile health (FirmTech performance ring).
You can achieve the same results yourself but if you like a big of tech and think it will keep you motivated, why not?
Blame your parents
Genetics plays a substantial role in determining penis size. And there is a relationship between the size of a man’s penis and how quickly he ejaculates.
All penises have roughly the same number of nerve endings in the head. If his penis is small, they’re concentrated over a smaller area that makes him more sensitive and prone to premature ejaculation. The opposite is true for men with big penises because the nerves are spread over a larger area.
This article originally ran as one of my weekly Mail Online columns