Does masturbating cause premature ejaculation?

Let’s talk premature ejaculation — where you come a little earlier than you or your partner want.

Written by
Gemma Kaczerepa
Medically reviewed by
Dr Vincent Mok
Last updated
June 20, 2022
8
min read
18
citations
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Let’s talk premature ejaculation — that pesky phenomenon where you come a little (or a lot) earlier than you or your partner want. It might happen during foreplay, or perhaps soon after penetration. It can also occur while masturbating.

Whatever the case, it’s not exactly an ideal outcome to doing the deed. But, it’s actually the most prevalent type of sexual dysfunction faced by men.

What’s maybe not as common, though, is awareness of the causes of premature ejaculation and, in particular, whether masturbation is one of those causes.

Can too much of it contribute to premature ejaculation? Or is this idea a myth? And, while we’re on the subject of masturbation, can the act of self-pleasure lead to any other issues?

How about we find out?

What is premature ejaculation?

Premature ejaculation happens when a man doesn’t have control over when he ejaculates and comes earlier than desired. This can be quite frustrating for the man himself, as well as his partner, and can lead to problems in a relationship.

For some men, premature ejaculation is just a one-off or occasional thing; they may only come early during their first sexual experience, or it might happen from time to time — especially if they haven’t ejaculated in a while.

For many men, it can become a chronic issue that starts either when they first have sexual intercourse (this is known as ‘primary’ or 'lifelong' premature ejaculation) or after multiple sexual encounters (referred to as ‘secondary’ or ‘acquired’ premature ejaculation).

Intermittent premature ejaculation isn’t usually a cause for concern, but when it becomes a regular occurrence, it can be considered a type of male sexual dysfunction.

If you’re experiencing premature ejaculation, know that it’s a very common issue. It’s the biggest sexual problem among males, affecting around one in three men between ages 18 and 59.

And, the good news is that PE is treatable with oral medication as well as non-medical tools and resources. Pilot's personalised treatment plans are designed by doctors with you in mind because we're not about one-size-fits-all remedies.

Common causes of premature ejaculation

So, what exactly causes premature ejaculation? Is it a physical problem or a psychological one?

Well, it turns out that it’s not just one or the other. For some men, premature ejaculation is triggered by biological factors, while for others, it comes down to psychological reasons.

And in many cases, it’s a mix of both. In other words, the physical causes of premature ejaculation can lead to psychological problems, thus aggravating the issue even further.

Some of the psychological causes of premature ejaculation include:

  • Depression or anxiety, especially in relation to sexual performance
  • Fear of ejaculating early
  • Previous negative sexual experiences
  • Low self-esteem or poor body image
  • Past sexual abuse, either as the victim or perpetrator
  • Relationship problems
  • Stress

A few of the physical, or biological, factors that can come into play include:

  • Irregularities in certain hormone levels, such as testosterone
  • Chemical imbalance in the part of the brain that controls ejaculation
  • Thyroid hormone imbalance
  • Inflammation or infection in the prostate or urethra
  • Prostate disease
  • Recreational drugs

Erectile dysfunction is also closely linked to premature ejaculation. This is when a man has difficulty getting or maintaining an erection, whether on an occasional or regular basis.

Erectile dysfunction can then cause him to rush through sex, leading to rapid ejaculation.

Can masturbating cause premature ejaculation?

Now that we’ve covered the main psychological and physical reasons behind premature ejaculation, you might be curious as to whether the issue can also be caused by masturbation.

That idea is, in fact, a myth. It’s also untrue that masturbation leads to erectile dysfunction, which, although a different concern to premature ejaculation, is often associated with it.

There’s actually a more positive link between masturbation and premature ejaculation. Regular masturbation is considered a great way to help overcome premature ejaculation issues, as it can work to prolong the amount of time it takes to come.

Plus, it builds sexual confidence and self-esteem — both of which are closely related to premature ejaculation.

If a man is experiencing premature ejaculation, his doctor may advise masturbating one to two hours before having sex. This is because self-stimulation may help dissolve some of the sexual tension that can lead to ejaculating early during penetrative sex.

Plus, research shows that masturbation may be a great way to encourage normal ejaculation. A 2019 study found that regular masturbation made a significant difference to the amount of time it took men to come.

As part of the study, nine men engaged in repeated penis-root masturbation — masturbation concentrated around the base of the penis — over a three month period.

At the end of the trial period, the median intravaginal ejaculation (ejaculating inside the vagina) time increased from 60 to 180 seconds.

Is it healthy to masturbate daily?

Enjoy a bit of one-on-one time? You’ll be glad to know that masturbating daily is completely safe and healthy.

It generally won’t cause any physical harm and can actually offer a number of health benefits, including stress relief and relaxation, promoting better sleep and boosting self-esteem. And as we know, it’s also an excellent way to help control early ejaculation.

Masturbating multiple times a day is also usually considered healthy, as is only masturbating once a week, month or year — or even not at all. It all comes down to personal preferences, and in most cases, there’s no right or wrong level of frequency.

However, if masturbation becomes excessive and starts interfering with daily life, it can be considered a problem. We’ll explore excessive masturbation a little further on.

What are the side effects of masturbation?

There are very few side effects of masturbation; it’s mostly a fun, natural and healthy thing to do for both men and women – either alone or together.

But, possible side effects include:

Addiction

When masturbation becomes excessive and impacts someone’s daily life, it may be edging into addiction territory.

An addiction to masturbation occurs when a person starts missing out on activities or events, avoiding responsibilities, skipping work or studies or using it as an escape from real life, or when it takes a toll on their relationships.

Guilt

Whether as a result of personal, cultural, spiritual or religious beliefs, some people feel guilty or shameful about masturbating.

Delayed ejaculation

Delayed ejaculation is effectively the opposite of premature ejaculation. It happens when a man takes a long time to reach orgasm and ejaculate or doesn’t ejaculate at all.

It’s believed that there’s a link between excessive masturbation and delayed ejaculation, especially if penetrative sex can’t quite match up to a man’s masturbation style.

For example, he could be much more aggressive or use more pressure when he’s pleasuring himself. This can result in difficulty reaching climax during penetrative sex.

Temporary physical effects

In some cases, aggressive or very frequent masturbation can lead to chafing, skin irritation or swelling. These are only temporary though and usually resolve in a few days.

Overcoming ejaculation problems with science-backed methods

Coming a little earlier than you’d like? Luckily, premature ejaculation is an entirely treatable condition that can be addressed using several different methods. Here’s how you can work to delay ejaculation.

Behavioural methods

There are a number of behavioural approaches that medical experts may recommend to beat premature ejaculation.

One is known as the Semans, or stop-start, technique, which is all about controlling ejaculation. The technique requires you to bring yourself close to ejaculation before pausing and letting the sensation pass.

You do this several times before letting yourself ejaculate. Eventually, you’ll come to recognise and control feelings of arousal before ejaculation.

Another behavioural method is the Masters and Johnson technique, also known as the squeeze technique. Similar to the Semans technique, it’s designed to help you control when you ejaculate — but it looks a little different in practice.

When performing the Masters and Johnson technique, your partner stimulates your penis until you come close to ejaculating. Your partner then squeezes your penis in an effort to reduce arousal.

Counselling

Because many of the root causes of premature ejaculation are psychological, chatting to a psychologist, counsellor or sex therapist can help to overcome any concerns with anxiety, depression or sexual performance.

Couples therapy can also be great if relationship problems are behind your ejaculation issues, or if premature ejaculation is causing tension between you and your partner.

Medication

There are numerous types of medication designed for treating premature ejaculation.

A doctor may prescribe SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), which are used to address depression and other mental health disorders. A side effect of these medications is that they can actually delay ejaculation, making them a viable treatment for premature ejaculation.

If erectile dysfunction is connected with your premature ejaculation issues, you may be given dedicated ED treatments which can, in turn, help combat early ejaculation.

The treatment plans offered on Pilot will take into account your particular circumstances and may include simple tools and resources designed to beat premature ejaculation, non-prescription methods and prescription medications. And, you can access help from a Pilot doctor online today, without the need to make an appointment — simply fill out the online assessment and the doctor will get in touch if they require any further information.

You'll also receive continued text-based support from your doctor and Pilot's medical team and once a personalised treatment plan has been created for you, it'll be sent to your home in discreet packaging.

Reducing sensitivity

Some men find that making their penis less sensitive helps delay ejaculation. Using a condom, especially thick condoms, can reduce friction during sex or masturbation, but there are also numbing sprays and creams that can decrease sensitivity even further.

These are generally applied around 15 to 30 minutes before sexual activity kicks off. Before using numbing agents, make sure to chat to a doctor about your options.

Masturbation

As we now know, masturbation is a popular method for overcoming premature ejaculation — and for very good reason. It’s fun, it’s safe, it’s effective in encouraging delayed ejaculation and it can offer a number of health benefits.

So if you’re experiencing premature ejaculation issues, we reckon there’s no better reason to indulge in a bit of solo hanky panky.

You don't have to tackle this issue by yourself, reach out to Pilot today to access help from medical professionals from the comfort of your own home.

Photo Credit: CBC

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