Study: Exercise May Be Helpful as Treatment for Premature Ejaculation

  • Physical activity may be as effective as pharmacological treatments for treating premature ejaculation in men, new research shows.
  • Because drugs often have unwanted side effects, some types of exercise—including running, yoga, and pelvic floor exercises—may help people avoid premature ejaculation.
  • More research in this field is necessary, but experts say treating premature ejaculation may be a multi-pronged approach of physical activity, behavioral or psychological treatments, and medication.
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Certain types of physical activity—including running, yoga, and even pelvic floor exercises—may be as effective as pharmacological treatments for treating premature ejaculation in men, new research shows.

The study, published last month in the journal Trends in Urology and Men’s Health, reviewed 54 studies to evaluate non-pharmacological treatments for premature ejaculation (PE), involving more than 3,400 men, and looked at data published over the course of nearly 50 years.

In examining lifestyle-based treatment options and their effectiveness on latency time—or how long it takes to ejaculate—researchers found that physical activity was not only a promising treatment but also free from side effects that can accompany medical interventions.

“Our paper is a comprehensive review of studies into non-pharmacological interventions for this common complaint, and there are clear indications that physical exercise, including running and engaging the pelvic floor muscles, show promise in several studies,” senior study author Lee Smith, PhD, professor of public health at the U.K.’s Anglia Ruskin University, said in a news release.

“Given that drugs often have side effects," Smith continued, "it appears that after all, the best medicine for avoiding premature ejaculation may well lie in exercise, and this possibility requires larger studies and further investigation."

How Common is Premature Ejaculation?

According to study authors, premature ejaculation is common, but because there isn’t a widely-accepted definition, it’s difficult to determine how many people it affects. Estimates of affected men worldwide range from 30% to 85%.

According to the American Urological Association, the condition can be defined as “poor ejaculatory control, associated bother, and ejaculation within about two minutes of initiation of penetrative sex.” But practitioners tend to view premature ejaculation a little more loosely.

A lot of the definitions of premature ejaculation focus on the ability to maintain an erection during penetrative sex “but that’s defining a condition through a specific behavior,” Ian Kerner, PhD, LMFT, sex and relationship therapist, and author of She Comes First, told Health.

“Men with early ejaculation often experience lack of control during foreplay, receiving oral sex,” he added. “There isn’t necessarily agreement on which behaviors we should be using to measure it.”

Most definitions also say that it’s important for a person to be bothered by their time to ejaculation, said Justin Dubin, MD, a urologist and men’s health specialist with the Memorial Healthcare System. “If they last less than about two minutes and it’s bothersome to the person or their partner, that’s considered premature ejaculation,” Dr. Dubin told Health. “But it can be complicated.”

Physical Activity, Pelvic Floor Exercises May Help

For the study, researchers sought to determine how non-pharmacological treatments could measure up to medications used to treat premature ejaculation. Because PE doesn’t have a widely-accepted definition, there are few treatment options available and the ones that exist—which are often off-label—may be associated with unwelcome side effects.

Though the small sample sizes used in the analysis—some with fewer than 50 patients—make it difficult to make generalizations about non-pharmacological treatments for PE, researchers concluded that there is “potential” for physical activity to help with premature ejaculation, and those options “should be investigated further.”

One small study in particular, for example, involved 105 patients diagnosed with premature ejaculation and sought to compare the effect of running versus dapoxetine (a medication approved outside of the U.S. to treat PE) on the condition. Both groups saw significant improvement in their PE symptoms, compared to a control group that was just advised to walk. Another study also found yoga to be effective in managing PE symptoms.

Another study looked at pelvic floor exercises, which were found to increase latency time from about one minute to three minutes. Psychotherapy or behavioral therapy were found to be effective as well.

Different Options May Work for Different People

Currently, premature ejaculation is often treated with a multi-pronged approach through a combination of behavioral, psychological, and pharmacological treatment options.

Common behavioral treatment options include what’s known as the “start-and-stop technique” and the “squeeze method”—both of which can teach a person how to delay ejaculation. “The technique assists patients’ understanding of what it feels like moments prior to ejaculation,” urologist David Kaufman, MD, director of Central Park Urology, a division of Maiden Lane Medical, told Health.

Other behavioral techniques stress reduction, Kegel exercises, and physical therapy. According to Kerner, these techniques help strengthen the muscles involved in ejaculation so people can have better control over interrupting or postponing it.

“It’s about gaining insight into your process and learning exercises to help heighten awareness of when you’re reaching the point of inevitability,” Kerner said. “Doing exercises such as Kegels will help build pelvic flood muscles and control.”

As far as pharmacological interventions go, physicians will often try to treat an underlying issue, like erectile dysfunction (ED) first, if present. Medications like Viagra (sildenafil) may help a patient reach an erection faster to sustain sexual activity, Dr. Kaufman said. Topical anesthetics, which may be applied to the head of the penis, can also help desensitize the penis making it less sensitive during intercourse, he added.

In the U.S., selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are considered a first-line treatment for PE, and are used off-label. Medications like fluoxetine, paroxetine, and escitalopram have shown to delay ejaculation as a side-effect of the drugs, Dr. Kaufman said. The pain medication tramadol may also affect penile sensation, ultimately improving ejaculatory control.

Psychotherapy, used in conjunction with both medication and behavioral therapy, is also helpful to assure people that premature ejaculation is nobody’s “fault” and to remove any mental or emotional obstacles associated with sexual performance.

Ultimately, experts stress the importance of seeking help if you have premature ejaculation and it bothers you, noting that there is variety with treatments. “There are a lot of options,” Dr. Dubin said, “and they work for a fair amount of people.”

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  1. Pizzol D, López Sánchez GF, Ilie PC, et al. Non‐pharmacological approaches for treatment of premature ejaculation: a systematic reviewTrends Urol Mens Health. 2023;14(2):15-20. doi:10.1002/tre.903

  2. Anglia Ruskin University. Exercise could help with common sexual complaint.

  3. Shindel AW, Althof SE, Carrier S, et al. Disorders of ejaculation: an AUA/SMSNA guideline. J Urol. 2022;207(3):504-512. doi:10.1097/JU.0000000000002392

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