The (Too) Fast Lane
Breaking the Pattern
The party was winding down, so Bill and Ann -- who had begun to date
recently -- decided to go back to her place. "He was shy and totally
self-conscious," says Ann about Bill (not their real names). "But he
was a great kisser."
One great kiss led to another, and soon they were in bed. In a matter of
minutes, it was over. Way too soon.
"He was so quick," Ann recalls. "And so embarrassed. He looked like
a little boy who had broken his mother's favorite dish. He kept saying, 'I'm
sorry, I'm sorry.'" And then he cried.
Millions of men likely can relate -- although they're not usually eager to say
so. Premature ejaculation is the most common male sexual problem, studies
suggest. In a survey published in 1999 in the Journal of the American
Medical Association, 21% of the 1,410 men (ages 18 to 59) who responded
said they had premature ejaculation. (In comparison, only 5% reported an
inability to get or maintain an erection, and another 5% reported low desire.)
Other studies have put the percent of men with premature ejaculation as high as
Every man will probably experience premature ejaculation at least once, says
Jon L. Pryor, MD, associate professor of urology at the University of Minnesota
Medical School and a veteran researcher in the field who recently published a
report on the problem in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy.
Despite the frequency with which it occurs, the problem is relatively
overlooked, Pryor says, especially in comparison to erectile dysfunction (ED),
which has been intensely researched (and widely discussed, thanks partly to
former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, who appeared in commercials touting drug treatment
for that problem.) "There's no drug specifically for premature
ejaculation," Pryor notes. "You'd think the pharmaceutical companies
would pursue this."
But recently, premature ejaculation has gotten more attention, with Pryor and
others zeroing in on what tends to cause the problem and testing various
treatments. While legitimate researchers like Pryor don't promise a guy he can
go on and on indefinitely, they are discovering that if tailored to the cause,
various options can at least improve his sex life. But premature ejaculation is
not always simple to treat, says Pryor's co-author, Michael E. Metz, a St.
Paul, Minn., psychologist.
The Definition Dilemma
The issue of premature ejaculation can be frustrating for researchers not
only because of the havoc it can wreak on relationships but also because the
medical community hasn't come to agree on the definition. "Some researchers
define it by the number of thrusts [after penetration]," Pryor says. Most
often mentioned is about 8 to 15.
Pryor prefers the definition he and Metz cite in their review, calling
premature ejaculation "the inadvertent and unsatisfying rapid speed of male