Ejaculation is the release of semen from the body. Premature ejaculation (PE) is when ejaculation happens sooner than a man or his partner would like during sex. PE is also known as rapid ejaculation, premature climax or early ejaculation. PE might not be a cause for worry. It can be frustrating if it makes sex less enjoyable and impacts relationships. If it happens often and causes problems, your health care provider can help.
In the U.S., about one in three men 18 to 59 years old have had problems with PE. The problem is often thought to be psychological, but biology may also play a role.
How Does Ejaculation Work?
Ejaculation is controlled by the central nervous system. When you are sexually stimulated, signals are sent to your spinal cord and brain. When you reach a certain level of excitement, signals are then sent from your brain to your reproductive organs. This causes semen to be released through the penis (ejaculation).
Ejaculation has two phases: emission and expulsion.
Phase 1: Emission
Emission is when sperm moves from the testicles to the prostate and mixes with seminal fluid to make semen. The vasa deferentia are tubes that help move the sperm from the testicles through the prostate to the base of the penis. (When you are talking about just one of these tubes, it is called a vas deferens.)
Phase 2: Expulsion
Expulsion is when the muscles at the base of the penis contract. This forces semen out of the penis. Usually, ejaculation and orgasm (climax) happen at the same time. Some men orgasm without ejaculating. In most cases, erections go away after this step.
Premature Ejaculation and Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Sometimes PE is a problem for men who have erection problems (Erectile Dysfunction or ED). This is when you are not able to get or keep an erection that's firm enough for sex. Since an erection goes away after ejaculation, it can be hard to know if the problem is PE or ED. ED should be treated first. PE may not be a problem once the ED is treated.