Dear Dr. G,

I am emailing you with concern about my sexual performance.

I am in my early twenties and started having sexual relationship about a year ago.

In the previous relationships, I think I encountered the issues of premature ejaculation.

To be fair, there are many occasions that I could last longer, and on other occasions I felt like the “fastest gun in the West”!

I am now embarking on another relationship. I have been quite open with my girlfriend and told her about my “shortcomings”.

She seems to understand my predicament and suggested I should seek help.

Truthfully, I am really not sure I suffer from PE and hope to put Dr. G on the spot for better clarifications.

First of all, can you tell me how long do men last in bed?

And if I do suffer from PE, how fast do I ejaculate?

Incidentally, what tests do you do to make the diagnosis?

What sort of timing is ideal for sex? What is considered too long and too short?

Do men suffer from PE bad lovers?

Please help.

Yours truly,
Timing Tim

Premature ejaculation (PE) is a well-recognised sexual dysfunction when a man experiences orgasm and ejaculate “shortly” after penetration. Historically, this is referred to as ejacultio praecox, which is in Latin translated as “early booming of ejaculation”. The keyword here is “shortly”, and that has opened up the important topic of the optimal timing of sex.

There is no uniform consensus of the cut-off definition of timing to define “premature” in PE. A consensus of experts at the International Society of Sexual Medicine (ISSM) has agreed that men in the 95 percentile complaining of early ejaculation or rapid climax tend to reach orgasm around one minute from penetration. On the other hand, The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) has a different view and applies the cut-off of 15 seconds for the diagnosis. With such big variation in the timings, that begs the question of what constituent a normal interval of intercourse?

The measurement of the timing of sex is done with a scientific method of Intravaginal Ejaculation Latency Time (IELT). The time taken for men to ejaculate from the point of penetration is technical a research tool, whereby the partner is instructed to start the stopwatch upon penetration and record the reading when climax is achieved. Although this may seem primitive, it’s the only tool we have.

Multinational researches have been conducted using IELT to measure what is considered “normal” duration of performance in a typical man. One study done on 491 heterosexual men in various European countries revealed the median IELT for all participants was 5.4 minutes. The study demonstrated IELT tends to decrease with age. Men aged 18 to 30 tend to last 6.5 minutes, while men above 50 can only sustain 4.3 minutes. The timing of IELT was also noted not influenced by condoms. Another study done in North America investigating the ideal timing of sex revealed the average coitus timing is seven minutes. The couples tend to perceive one to two minutes being too short, three to seven minutes being adequate, seven to 13 minutes being desirable, and 13 to 30 minutes was too long. Contrary to what is portrayed in pornography; “typical” men would last between five to eight minutes in a “typical” sexual encounter.

The experts in the Kinsey Institute highlighted the timing of sex is not just variable from different individuals, but also different between different partners and degree of arousal during the sexual encounters. In fact, Kinsey himself observed up to 75% of men ejaculated within two minutes of penetration at least half of the time, and many couples can still experience satisfaction in with such interval.

According to ISSM, premature ejaculation is a sexual dysfunction that is not just dependent on the timing of intercourse. Men with PE often describe the feeling of having no control over the ejaculatory trigger. In addition, they also report emotional and relationship distress, even to the extent of sexual relationship avoidance due to embarrassment.

The very much-loved actor and filmmaker, Richard Attenborough, who is well recognized in Jurassic Park and Miracle on 34th Street once said: “I believe we need heroes. I believe we need people who we can measure our own shortcomings by.” In reality, the timing of ejaculation should not be a yardstick for the measurement of the quality of a lover. Instead, rapid ejaculation should be considered a variation of a norm, as the timing of sex is a spectrum that can be influenced by many factors.

In the evolutionary viewpoint, most male mammals ejaculate quickly during intercourse, prompting some biologist to consider the real “heroes” are rapid ejaculators who evolved into men’s genetic makeup to increase the chances of passing their genes. When Dr. G is put on the spot by men who are still bothered the “short-cumming” of the timing of sex and aspired to be the “heroes” of pornography, his response is to seek help from the doctors for many treatments that might just help with the prolongation the early firing of the “fastest gun in the west!”

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