Premature ejaculation. It's a condition affecting up to 33 percent of men and the subject of countless memorable pop culture moments, from American Pie's "double premature ejaculation" scene to Lonely Island's instant classic,
Researchers say there is still a lot to learn about how we define and diagnose premature ejaculation (PE). For starters, what amount of time constitutes "premature"? And when do PE symptoms warrant medical attention?
new study titled "Understanding Men's Attributions of Why They Ejaculate Before Desired" offers some insight.
"There's been a lot of discussion of premature ejaculation in the sexual medicine area in the past 10 years," said David Rowland, author of Sexual Dysfunction in Men and Professor of Psychology at Valparaiso University. "Professional societies are all trying to define it."
Until now, researchers focused on cutoff times. If a man ejaculates within one minute of penetration, for instance, it would be defined as premature. The problem, Rowland said, is that PE symptoms are more complex than a simple cutoff time.
"The reality is that many men feel that this a problem whether they ejaculate after one minute or after five minutes," Rowland told Fusion. "They're reaching climax before they want to, and want more control over their ejaculatory response time."
Instead of focusing on timing, Rowland and his colleagues looked at two other criteria: how much sense of control does a man have over his ejaculatory response and how much is he bothered by it?
It's difficult to gauge how much control a man has over his timing.
"A man might want to have sex for a long time, but he knows the kids are coming home and needs to wrap it up," Rowland said. "Or he could be worried that his partner isn't enjoying it."
Sex is seen as a time of intimacy and closeness, so when it's over too quickly, most men feel frustrated and disappointed.
"This can lead to a perpetuating cycle of, 'Oh it didn't go well this time, so I guess it won't go well the next time,'" Rowland said. "They start feeling more distressed, they may look for excuses not to have sex - this is how relationship problems develop."
So what's a guy to do?
The first step in solving the problem is to get educated. It's best to read up on premature ejaculation symptoms and get partners involved in the discussion.
"Men who experience sexual problems get into a negative rut and place too much focus on the penis," Rowland said. "It's important to step back and ask, 'How's the relationship overall?' 'What are the sexual expectations?'"
Going forward, Rowland hopes physicians will look at more than just the one-minute cutoff time.
"Even if a guy can go for five or ten minutes but still feels like he can't control himself, maybe he should be eligible for treatment," he said.
So men: instead of worrying about becoming the next Jim from American Pie, do a little research and talk with your partner. It could make all the difference.
Alexandra DiPalma is a producer for Fusion Lightworks, Fusion’s In-house Branded Content Agency.