Sexual health: it’s an important, but sometimes sensitive topic. Here, we talk you through two of the most common sexual health issues men experience, & ways to help manage them

This article is sponsored by A. Menarini

Sexual health is an important part of our overall health, and how you feel about your sex life can have a big impact on your overall satisfaction with life.

Sometimes, we might think there’s a taboo around talking about sexual health problems, or seeking help, but in many instances, the problems we’re experiencing are in fact normal.

This is often the case with premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction, two conditions that effect many men. Here, we talk you through the two conditions, how common they are, what causes them, how to treat them and when to seek help. The important thing to remember is that lots of people experience sexual health issues, and if you or your partner are affected, you’re not alone.

What is premature ejaculation?

Premature ejaculation is when a man ejaculates sooner than he or his partner would like during sex. When it comes to sex, everyone is different, but international guidelines define premature ejaculation as when men regularly ejaculate within a minute of entering their partner.

However, it’s really important to remember that it’s down to you and your partner to decide what you’re both comfortable with in terms of how long it takes them to ejaculate, by discussing things openly together. 

How common is premature ejaculation?

Whilst we can’t determine with complete accuracy how many men are affected, it’s thought that between one in three and one in five of all men will experience premature ejaculation at some point in their lives – that’s between 20% and 30%. So, if you’re affected by premature ejaculation, it’s helpful to be aware of how normal it is. 

What causes premature ejaculation?

There are two different types of premature ejaculation. Primary, where you’ve experienced it ever since you’ve been sexually active, and secondary, where you’ve recently developed a problem over time.

The causes of primary premature ejaculation can include:

• A previous, traumatic sexual experience

• A strict upbringing and beliefs about sex

• Conditioning from early sexual experiences

With secondary premature ejaculation, the causes can be physical or psychological. Common physical causes include:

• Prostate problems

• An overactive or underactive thyroid

• The use of recreational drugs

• Drinking too much alcohol

Psychological causes can include:

• Depression

• Stress

• Relationship problems

• Anxiety about sexual performance

How can I treat premature ejaculation at home?

If you’re experiencing premature ejaculation, there are some self-help tactics you can try before you seek medical advice.

Things to try include:

• Masturbating one to two hours before having sex

• Using a thicker condom, which can help to reduce sensation

• Having sex with your partner on top to allow them to pull away when you’re near to ejaculating

• Taking breaks during sex

• Breathing techniques

• Counselling, to help you ‘unlearn’ the habit of premature ejaculation

When should I see a doctor about premature ejaculation?

If you’re concerned about premature ejaculation or you experience other symptoms alongside premature ejaculation, it’s important to speak to a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying cause. They will be able to help you to identify the cause of your premature ejaculation, whether that’s physical or psychological, and can help you to manage or treat any underlying causes, as well as the premature ejaculation itself.

You may also be able to access treatment for premature ejaculation through the Boots Online Doctor Premature Ejaculation Treatment service*, if suitable for you, without the need for an appointment.

What is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is a very common problem where men are either unable to get an erection or keep an erection for long enough to have sex.

Most men sometimes fail to get or keep an erection, however if it happens regularly, it’s a good idea to seek medical advice. Read on to understand more about the causes of erectile dysfunction and how to treat it.

How common is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is a common condition and becomes more common with increasing age. It’s estimated that half of all men between the ages of 40 and 70 will have it to some degree at some point in their lives.

However, it can also affect men under the age of 40. So, whatever your age bracket, if you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction, you’re not alone.

What causes erectile dysfunction?

Factors that can contribute to erectile dysfunction include:

• High blood pressure

• High cholesterol

• Diabetes

• Depression

• Anxiety

• Hormone problems, including thyroid conditions

• Stress

• Tiredness

• Drinking too much alcohol

How can I treat erectile dysfunction at home?

There are some lifestyle changes you can make which may help with erectile dysfunction. They include:

• Losing weight if you’re overweight

• Eating a healthy diet

• Exercising regularly

• Stopping smoking if you do smoke

• Reducing stress and anxiety

• Not drinking more than 14 units of alcohol per week

• Taking a break from cycling, if you usually cycle for more than three hours per week

If you’re regularly experiencing erectile dysfunction or you experience other symptoms alongside erectile dysfunction, speak to your GP or your local sexual health clinic. You should also speak to them if self-help hasn’t improved your condition. Because erectile dysfunction can be a sign of another, more serious health condition it’s important to do this so that any underlying causes can be identified and treated.

Your GP may also be able to help with treatments for erectile dysfunction, that can include medicine or counselling and therapy, if your erection problems are linked to emotional or mental health problems.

You may also be able to access treatment for erectile dysfunction through the Boots Online Doctor Erectile Dysfunction Treatment service*, if suitable for you, without the need for an appointment. 

How can I help if my partner is experiencing premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction?

If your partner is experiencing either premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction, they may be anxious about discussing it. If you raise the subject, it’s best to do it at a time when sex isn’t on the agenda, and if they bring the topic up, try to be as patient and understanding as possible.

Encourage your partner to speak to their GP about any concerns they may have, and then make sure you’re supportive when helping them to implement any treatments or management strategies their GP might suggest.

Remember, both premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction are common conditions, so if you or your partner are experiencing them, you’re not alone.

It’s important to seek medical advice if you’re experiencing either of these problems and self-help measures haven’t resolved the problem. It’s also important to have open conversations with your partner, if you’re in a relationship, so that you can get the support you need.

*Access to treatment is subject to an online consultation with a clinician to assess suitability. Subject to availability. Charges apply.

PP-SH-UK-0030 June 2023

1Subject to availability. Eligibility criteria may apply. Charges may apply.