Everyone will climax a little quicker than they’d like to at some point in their life. But if this is happening to you regularly and it’s a problem for you or your partner, you may have premature ejaculation. It’s incredibly common. We know it affects at least one in three to one in five men aged 18 to 59, but it actually might be even more common than these statistics suggest, given blokes are so reluctant to talk about the issue.
Fortunately, there are a bunch of things you can do about premature ejaculation, so you don’t need to sweep it under the rug or let your worries consume you. Starting with Kegel exercises. Here’s what you need to know about your pelvic floor, premature ejaculation and the moves you can do to last longer in bed.
What is premature ejaculation?
Premature ejaculation is when you regularly ejaculate sooner than you wish, or with minimal stimulation, and it’s a problem for you and your partner. It’s usually considered somewhere between one to three minutes, but it’s not the time that really matters; it’s how it affects you and your sex life. That being said, it’s also important to understand you don’t have to last hours in bed.
“I've had patients think they have premature ejaculation, and they had sex for 15 to 20 minutes, and they're concerned that they're not lasting long enough,” says men’s health physiotherapist, Dr Jo Milios. “That's a lot of younger guys because they're watching a lot of pornography, so it's really important to put it in context of what's normal and normal is three to eight minutes; that's what humans are expected to be able to achieve naturally.”
Premature ejaculation can be lifelong (you’ve experienced it from your first sexual experience) or acquired (it develops after previously having a longer, satisfactory time to ejaculate).
What are Kegel exercises?
Your pelvic floor is the group of muscles that stretch from the pubic bone at the front of your pelvis to the tailbone at the back. It also stretches side-to-side from one sitting bone to the other. It has a crucial role in supporting your bladder, bowel and sexual function. Pelvic floor problems can occur when the pelvic floor muscles are stretched, weakened or too tight. Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor exercises, involve repeatedly contracting and relaxing the muscles that make up your pelvic floor. Kegel exercises can resolve premature ejaculation in 55% to 83% of cases.
“Pelvic floor exercises should be the first step to help anyone with premature ejaculation,” Dr Milios says.
Working with a pelvic floor physiotherapist will get you the most effective guidance and help you track your progress.
How to do Kegel exercises
Get in a standing position. “Standing makes muscles work harder; there's more loading on the pelvic floor, and that makes them get stronger quicker,” Dr Milios says
- Squeeze the front passage, squeeze the back passage and then draw the nuts to guts. Some important things to remember while doing this: Do not clench your buttocks when you are doing these exercises, keep your legs relaxed, keep breathing and squeeze and lift rather than tightly clenching
- Do 10 as quickly as you can, at about one second per contraction and then do 10 in a row holding the squeeze. “Most guys who have a weak pelvic floor would probably aim to lift for two or three seconds initially,” Dr Milios says
- Do this three times a day.
“Usually, within two or three weeks of doing the exercises, there's already an improvement,” Milios says. “But I tell guys to do the exercises for life because it's something that can help their ongoing incontinence as well as their sexual function.”
Hypertonic or overactive pelvic floor
Most men with a dysfunctional pelvic floor will have weak muscles, but a small proportion of blokes have a tight or overactive pelvic floor. This is called a hypertonic pelvic floor. You might experience symptoms such as constipation, incomplete emptying of your bowels, straining when emptying your bowels, frequent or urgent urination, urinary incontinence, hesitancy or slow flow of urine, and pelvic pain. It’s important to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist if you think you might have an overactive pelvic floor, as they can get to the bottom of what’s causing it and guide you on relaxation exercises.
Here are some pelvic floor relaxation exercises you can try at home:
- Body scanning: This technique can help you improve your awareness of muscle tension in the body. Get comfortable lying down or seated and take a few deep breaths. Bring awareness to your feet and pay attention to how they feel. Focus on relaxing the area and visualise any tension leaving it before moving on to the next body part and continue through each part of your body.
- Stretching: There is a range of stretches to help relax your pelvic floor (which you can find here). Start with the frog leg stretch by lying flat on your back with the soles of your feet together and knees falling apart. Bring your feet comfortably close to your bottom. Breathe into your belly while holding the stretch for 30-90 seconds. Taking five seconds to breathe in and then five seconds to breathe out is a soothing cycle to practise.
- Breathing exercise: In a seated position, place your feet apart on the floor and let your lower jaw hang loose. Let your shoulders drop, and your belly relax. Take a breath, expanding your waist, and focus on letting the pelvic floor muscles soften. Repeat this breathing technique five times.