Speedy Gonzalez

A SATISFACTORY sexual experience is a vital factor in maintaining a close and fulfilling relationship. Most of us, however, are often reluctant and uncomfortable to discuss sexual issues with our partners or doctors, fearing embarrassment.

These issues will not "disappear over time" and the more one procrastinates in seeking professional advice, the more it affects our sexual wellbeing, and that of our partner.

The good news is that many sexual problems can be treated. According to the University of Chicago sociologist Edward Laumann, lead author of a comprehensive US sex study, 31% of men and 43% of women suffer from some form of sexual dysfunction.

One particular condition that affects as many as 20-30% of Asian men at some point in their lives is premature ejaculation (PE). It is defined by several major medical organisations as:

  • Persistent or recurrent ejaculation that occurs with minimal stimulation before, on, or shortly after vaginal penetration.
  • Inability to control or delay ejaculation.
  • Has a negative impact on a man, such as distress or frustration.

Premature ejaculation is a common medical condition that affects all men at some point in their lives. In fact, it is an under-reported sexual dysfunction, with most of the attention on erectile dysfunction (ED) , which explains why men are often confused about both.

Premature ejaculation is NOT the same thing as erectile dysfunction (ED)

According to a recent study, the Asia Pacific Premature Ejaculation Prevalence and Attitude survey (AP PEPA) that involved over 5,000 heterosexual men, as many as 35% of respondents mistakenly believed PE and ED are very similar.

The majority of Malaysian respondents also believed that both conditions can be treated with the same medication. But in fact, they are not the same and should be treated differently!

In Malaysia alone, 29% of men may be suffering from PE. PE means ejaculating too soon. ED on the other hand, means a man is unable to hold an erection. Both are different conditions and should never be confused with each other!

PE is actually a relatively common condition that is seen in all age groups of adult men, compared to ED, which usually affects men who are older. Some men are unaware that loss of erection after ejaculation is normal and may complain of ED when PE is the actual problem.

While everyone knows that one of the ways to treat ED is to take that little blue pill, you definitely can't treat PE by taking the same pill that treats ED and expect it to extend time to ejaculation. It's also a mistake to think that PE will disappear over time, as the condition can last a lifetime.

While PE can be associated with health problems such as hyperthyroidism or prostatic infection, it is also caused by mental and physical factors such as a chemical imbalance in the body (such as lowered serotonin levels), anxiety, or depression.

In addition, men who have PE are more likely to report other forms of sexual dysfunction such as ED, the inability to reach orgasm, and low libido.

Differentiating PE and ED

Premature ejaculation

  • It's over very quickly
  • A common issue and affects men at some point in their lives - not dependent on age
  • Under-diagnosed, under-reported
  • Treatable with PE medication, psycho-sexual education, counselling, and behavioural methods

Erectile dysfunction

  • Can't maintain erection
  • Affects mostly older men above the age of 45
  • High profile, better press coverage
  • Many established therapies, e.g. implants, suppositories, oral medication and injection therapy

How does PE affect men?

To put in simple terms, PE is basically when you don't feel in control during sex. This leads to dissatisfaction and negatively affects the overall sense of intimacy.

Although most people think that premature ejaculation is measured in time only, the issue is not really how long it takes to ejaculate, but there are also the feelings of no control and distress.

According to consultant urologist Assoc Prof Dr Zulkifli Md Zainuddin, lack of control is the key issue for men who suffer from PE. Men become frustrated because they ejaculate before they want to and this causes emotional and mental stress.

Prof Dr Zulkifli added that PE also reduces sexual fulfilment and increases the incidence of avoidance of intimacy, and this may lead to the gradual deterioration of a relationship.

The AP PEPA survey also showed that PE may be a cause of deep strains in thousands of marriages and interpersonal relationships between couples across the Asia Pacific region.

In fact, the survey results charted Malaysia having the highest percentage of respondents who think that an increase in length of time will improve their overall or sexual relationship with their partner as compared to our Indonesian and Filipino counterparts - which is encouraging!

Good news! PE is treatable

Sex is important - let's face it, without sex, an intimate relationship between a husband and wife will be greatly affected. The issue, when prolonged, will also negatively affect a man's personal self-esteem and his confidence, both in and outside the bedroom.

The first step to managing PE is to acknowledge the condition, and that it is common, and there is help available.

Secondly, take the time to talk to your partner. You shouldn't have to go through this alone because this condition not only affects you, but also your partner. Getting honest feedback from your partner about your sexual performance will really provide a lot of insights to the situation.

Next and the most important step is to consult your doctor. Work with a trusted doctor to diagnose the condition and identify the best treatment option that will work for you. Preferably, it is better to visit a physician together as a couple to get to the root of the matter.

If you find it hard to talk to your partner, discussing it with a trusted friend or family member will also help, but it is always advisable to discuss this intimate problem with your partner. Remember, it's not just about you, but it's also maintaining (and in slightly more extreme cases, saving) a sexually fulfilling relationship.

So if you see the signs and you notice the symptoms highlighted, don't let this ruin your love life. Take the time to discuss it with your partner and consult your physician.

Don't let it be over too quickly!