How to Delay Ejaculation

Dr. Babak Ashrafi

Medically reviewed by

Dr Babak Ashrafi

Last reviewed: 24 Jun 2022

Premature ejaculation is the most common ejaculation related problem. This is when you ejaculate or ‘come’ too quickly during sexual activity or sexual intercourse. There are a few things you can try to improve premature ejaculation. These include medical treatments, sexual health improvement, techniques, and lifestyle changes.

Man sat on bed looking concerned thinking about techniques to delay ejaculation

Key takeaways

  • Many men want to last longer during sex but not lasting long enough is only a medical condition for some people

  • Premature ejaculation is when regularly not lasting long enough in bed becomes a serious problem

  • To improve how long you last you can try the start-stop method, thicker condoms, or masturbating before sex

  • There is also medication to help premature ejaculation including Emla and Priligy

What is premature ejaculation?

Premature ejaculation is a condition where you ejaculate too quickly during sex. Premature ejaculation can affect up to 30% of men. It is split into 2 different kinds, primary (lifelong) or secondary (acquired):

  • Primary: where the condition has existed since the first time you had sex
  • Secondary: where premature ejaculation is intermittent or starts later in life

The average time to ejaculate is around 5 and a half minutes. If you ejaculate much faster than this, you could think about ways to improve it. Premature ejaculation is when you ejaculate within 1 to 2 minutes of having sex.

Looking for treatment for premature ejaculation is a personal choice. It’s between you and your partner to decide if you’re both happy with the time it takes you to ejaculate. If your ejaculation time is causing you or your partner worry, treatment or tips can help.

With ZAVA, you can request safe, effective medication for premature ejaculation without seeing a doctor in person. Get started by completing our short online medical questionnaire so our doctors can check if this is suitable for you. If you have any questions about premature ejaculation or treatment, you can privately message our doctors through your account, free of charge.

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What causes premature ejaculation?

There are several ‘risk factors’ which can cause premature ejaculation. For example, you’re more likely to develop premature ejaculation if you:

  • are under a lot of stress
  • have erectile dysfunction
  • have depression
  • are overweight
  • drink too much alcohol
  • smoke

There are treatments designed to help premature ejaculation. If you have an underlying medical condition, there are specific treatment options for you too.

Primary premature ejaculation

Primary premature ejaculation may happen the first time you have sex. This can then happen every time afterwards as well. Psychological factors are often common causes of primary premature ejaculation, compared to secondary premature ejaculation, which is sometimes caused by a physical condition.

Causes of primary premature ejaculation include:

  • psychological conditions - for example, some men who have experienced mental trauma related to sex might become overly anxious about sex.
  • culture - your culture can sometimes cause primary premature ejaculation, particularly if you have been taught that sex is taboo.
  • conditioning - you may have become conditioned when ejaculating. For example, some men condition themselves to ejaculate quickly during adolescence to avoid being caught. This will lead to ejaculating too quickly with a partner.

Secondary premature ejaculation

Secondary premature ejaculation is often caused by stress, anxiety or depression. These are linked with male sexual dysfunctions, including premature ejaculation. There is a strong link between premature ejaculation and depression. Other factors include relationship issues, personal conflicts, and performance related anxiety.

There are also physical causes of secondary premature ejaculation, including:

Relationship issues can also be a common cause of premature ejaculation. If your partner is not supportive, it can lead to a higher level of anxiety and fear of failure. If relationship problems are a cause of premature ejaculation, it may be due to:

  • different sexual needs
  • sexual performance anxiety
  • lack of communication
  • fear of sex
  • erectile dysfunction

How to delay ejaculation

Self help techniques for delaying ejaculation include:

  • masturbating up to two hours before having sex
  • using thick condoms to reduce the sensation in the penis
  • taking a deep breath to shut down the ejaculatory reflex

Pelvic floor exercises

Your pelvic floor muscles can help delay ejaculation. They help you control your ejaculatory reflex. This will help you last longer. You can find your pelvic floor muscle by stopping mid stream while you're peeing. When you're laying down, tighten your pelvic floor muscles for 3 seconds. Then relax them for 3 seconds. Try to do this 10 times in a row. You can repeat this at least 3 times a day. If you slowly increase the number of seconds, you’ll help your muscles become stronger.

The squeeze technique:

  1. you or your partner masturbates you and stops before you ejaculate
  2. then squeezes the head of your penis for 10 to 20 seconds
  3. then let go of your penis for 30 seconds and resume masturbation
  4. repeat this process several times before ejaculation is allowed to happen

The stop start technique:

  1. similar to the squeeze technique but your partner doesn’t squeeze your penis
  2. when you have built your confidence about delaying ejaculation, you can move on to having sex - you can stop and start as needed

These techniques can take practice to get right, but they should help you delay ejaculation in the long term.

Lifestyle changes: if your premature ejaculation is related to certain risk factors, you might be able to improve it by making some changes. This might include quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol, or losing weight.

Supplements: some men have found that taking zinc supplements can help. Zinc is an important mineral in our body that helps produce testosterone. By taking the recommended amount of 10mg of zinc each day, you may see an improvement in your ejaculation time.

Medication for premature ejaculation

Premature ejaculation treatments can help improve your symptoms, but they won’t cure premature ejaculation completely. They include the following.


Priligy (Dapoxetine) is a type of antidepressant and it's taken in tablet form. It contains dapoxetine. This is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Dapoxetine was designed with premature ejaculation in mind. It’ll raise your serotonin levels and many men find it helps them last longer. You can use it 'as and when'. You should take Priligy 1 to 3 hours before sex. You can discuss with your doctor if Priligy is right for you. You should not take it more than once a day. If you find that Priligy doesn't work for you, your doctor may prescribe you an alternative SSRI like fluoxetine, sertraline or paroxetine. Some common side effects of Priligy include feeling dizzy, feeling sick or sweaty, and headaches.


EMLA is a cream that you rub onto the head of the penis to make it less sensitive. This can help slow down ejaculation. It has two local anaesthetics (numbing agents) called lidocaine and prilocaine. Lidocaine and prilocaine will slowly numb your skin where you rub it in. You should apply EMLA around 15 minutes before having sex. You'll need to wash any extra off the head of the penis before you start having sex. It's important to know that EMLA cream is oil based. This can weaken latex condoms and increase the risk of them splitting. Some of the common side effects of EMLA cream include slight swelling or tingling, redness, or mild itching.


Viagra works by increasing blood flow to your penis. It'll help you get and keep an erection. Viagra tablets may help you last longer too. It comes in tablet form and contains sildenafil. Viagra won't fix the underlying cause of premature ejaculation, but it can help you in the short term. Your doctor will talk to you about how to use it best. Normally you take Viagra once a day, 1 hour before having sex. Some of the common side effects of Viagra include headaches, feeling sick, hot flushes, or dizziness.


Cialis is a tablet that works like Viagra. Cialis contains tadalafil. It increases blood flow to your penis making it easier to get and keep an erection. The difference between Cialis and Viagra is the time they are effective for. Cialis works for up to 36 hours. This means that if you’re sexually stimulated during this time, it’ll help you get an erection. Some common side effects of Cialis include headaches, dizziness, heartburn, or muscle pain.

You should always speak to a healthcare professional before taking any medication to make sure it’s the right treatment for you.

You can request Priligy, EMLA, Viagra, or Cialis online from ZAVA. Our service is quick and easy to use – just follow these simple steps:

  1. Fill out a short online assessment about your health and lifestyle
  2. Select your preferred treatment option
  3. Your assessment will be checked by a ZAVA doctor to see if it’s right for you
  4. If approved, your order can then be posted in discreet packaging to your preferred address, or you can collect it from a local Post Office instead

Sex therapy or counselling with or without a partner can also be helpful, particularly if you’re in a long term relationship. During a session, a counsellor or sex therapist will:

  • encourage you to discuss any relationship issues you or your partner may feel you have, and give their advice about how you can resolve them
  • give you techniques on how to handle performance anxiety and ways you can improve your sex life
  • talk through your sexual encounters or sexual experiences to see if there is anything that might be contributing to your premature ejaculation
  • refer you to a specialist for advice that is tailored to your specific needs

When is counselling recommended?

If the length of time you last during sex is a problem for either you or your partner(s), and it’s not being helped by either physical techniques or medical treatments, you might want to try counselling.

Counselling or couples therapy can be very helpful when there is a psychological root cause to your sexual problems. During your sessions, your therapist will be able to help you identify and work on any issues you might have around sex, or any underlying problems in your relationship.

Medically reviewed by:
Dr Babak Ashrafi Clinical Lead for Service Expansion
Accreditations: BSc, MBBS, MRCGP (2008)

Babak studied medicine at King’s College London and graduated in 2003, having also gained a bachelor’s degree in Physiology during his time there. He completed his general practice (GP) training in East London, where he worked for a number of years as a partner at a large inner-city GP practice. He completed the Royal College of GPs membership exam in 2007.

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Last reviewed: 24 Jun 2022

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