Climaxing too soon or failing to get an erection can each have a big impact on a couple's sex life, causing one or both partners to feel physically or emotionally inadequate in the bedroom.
One in 10 men are thought to suffer with erectile dysfunction worldwide, while 30% of British men are estimated to ejaculate too soon. But the terms 'premature ejaculation' (PE) and 'erectile dysfunction' (ED) are sometimes misunderstood or used interchangeably to refer to general sexual dysfunction. Read on for clarification of these two terms and to discover what the main differences are.
Premature ejaculation occurs when there is a lack of control over the ejaculation, causing a man to climax sooner than he or his partner would prefer during sexual activity. This can cause a great deal of frustration, diminishing both partners' enjoyment of sex and potentially causing distress and concern for both.
According to a study of 500 couples, five and a half minutes is the average time from when a man puts his penis into a woman's vagina until he reaches ejaculation. A shorter period may mean reduced satisfaction and sexual intimacy, which can be accompanied by feelings of shame or sexual frustration.
There are various factors that can trigger ejaculation problems and these include stress, anxiety, relationship troubles, depression, previous traumatic sexual experiences and certain medical conditions such as diabetes.
Premature ejaculation can be treated with medication, and counseling or couples therapy is recommended so that partners can learn various techniques to delay ejaculation.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) refers to the inability to get and maintain an erection. This can make sexual intercourse difficult or impossible to achieve. There are numerous psychological factors that can cause erectile dysfunction and these include feelings of stress or anxiety. Drinking too much alcohol can also cause erection problems and while the condition may be temporary for many, the likelihood of it occurring increases with age.
An erection happens when a man is physically or mentally stimulated, triggering the brain to send chemical messages down to the nerves in the penis. This causes the blood vessels in the penis to dilate, allowing extra blood flow which expands the penis, resulting in an erection.
There are possible physical causes of ED as well. The main ones are reduced blood flow to the penile region but other factors could be involved. These include diseases that affect the nerves to the penis including Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson's Disease. Hormonal causes, injuries to the nerves in the penis, certain medications, alcohol and drug use can also result in erection problems.
There are various options available for treating ED, including prescription oral treatments, injections, vacuum pumps and psychosexual therapy.