Premature Ejaculation Gets a Unified Definition

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Premature ejaculation has long been recognized as a health condition, but a clear definition of the condition has emerged only recently, and it is still evolving. Now one group of sexual medicine experts say they've arrived at a new definition that includes men who have had premature ejaculation all their lives, and those who've acquired the condition as they've aged.

Men with "acquired" premature ejaculation are those who have had normal sexual function in the past, but now nearly always ejaculate less than three minutes after penetration, under the new definition. "Lifelong" premature ejaculation is defined as having sex that lasts for about one minute of vaginal penetration, and has been like that since the first sexual experience.

The definition also says that men who have premature ejaculation may be suffering from the negative personal consequences of being unable to delay ejaculation, such as distress, frustration or an avoidance of sexual intimacy, the researchers said. [7 Surprising Reasons for Erectile Dysfunction]

To write the new definition, experts in the International Society for Sexual Medicine (ISSM) reviewed the scientific evidence on the forms of premature ejaculation, as well as recommended treatments. The experts authored two reports published today (May 22) in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

In 2008, the ISSM experts issued an earlier definition for lifelong premature ejaculation but this was limited to men with the lifelong form of the disorder.

"The unified definition of lifelong and acquired premature ejaculation will reduce errors of diagnosis and classification by providing the clinician with a discriminating diagnostic tool," said study researcher Dr. Ege Can Serefoglu, of the Bagcilar Training & Research Hospital, in Istanbul, Turkey.

Doctors can use the new definition to diagnosis men with the condition, and to design clinical trials for treatments, the researchers said.

However, the researchers limited their definition to men engaging in vaginal intercourse because there are few studies on early ejaculation in the context of other sexual acts or in homosexual men, the researchers said.

Acquired premature ejaculation is most commonly due to sexual performance anxiety, psychological or relationship problems, or erectile dysfunction, the researchers said. But it can also be due to inflammation of the prostate gland, an overactive thyroid or withdrawal from prescribed or recreational drugs.

As many as one-third of men may suffer from premature ejaculation at some point in their lives, previous studies have found. Reviewing past data, the researchers found that about 2 to 3 percent of men have lifelong premature ejaculation, and the rate of acquired premature ejaculation is about 4 percent among sexually active men.

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Bahar Gholipour
Staff Writer
Bahar Gholipour is a staff reporter for Live Science covering neuroscience, odd medical cases and all things health. She holds a Master of Science degree in neuroscience from the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris, and has done graduate-level work in science journalism at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She has worked as a research assistant at the Laboratoire de Neurosciences Cognitives at ENS.