According to the American Urological Association (AUA), premature ejaculation is the most common form of male sexual dysfunction, affecting about one in three men aged 18 to 59.
Men who ejaculate sooner than expected might have an easy way to avoid this knock to their self-confidence – and special "wipes" embedded with a mild anaesthetic (benzocaine) appear to help reduce premature ejaculation, a small new study found.
Premature ejaculation may be a symptom of some neurological condition such as multiple sclerosis, but in the vast majority of cases it’s simply a matter of conditioning.
Creams of sprays
While most men with lifelong premature ejaculation do not suffer from accompanying erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation coexists in about one-third of patients complaining of erectile dysfunction. According to the South African Medical Journal (SAMJ) the prevalence of premature ejaculation is estimated at 24.9%.
Currently, drug treatments for premature ejaculation in the United States are limited to creams or sprays, the AUA said.
"Premature ejaculation means ejaculation in less than two minutes after penetration," explained one urologist, Dr David Samadi. He's chief of urology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
While benzocaine and other anaesthetics have been used before to treat the condition, their use in a bedside wipe is new, he said.
The new study – funded by the wipes' maker, Veru Healthcare, included 21 men with premature ejaculation who were in monogamous heterosexual relationships.
Fifteen used the wipes, which contain 4% benzocaine, while six others received a placebo wipe with no anaesthetic.
After two months, the men in the treatment group showed significant improvement in premature ejaculation compared to those in the placebo group, said a team led by Dr Ridwan Shabsigh, who specialises in men's sexual health in New York City.
The study was presented at a meeting of the American Urological Association. Findings presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
"This study is encouraging in demonstrating a new and innovative way to reduce the symptoms of premature ejaculation," AUA spokesman Dr Tobias Kohler said in a meeting news release.
"Premature ejaculation can cause a variety of issues related to negative feelings and emotions that can lead to problems with sexual relationships. This data shows topical 4% benzocaine wipes is a promising therapy to treat the most common form of sexual dysfunction among men," he said.
Kohler is associate professor and residency programme director at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.
But Samadi brought up one potential downside: benzocaine's effect on the man's sex partner.
Wipes might affect partner
"The study has not mentioned a common problem of using topical anaesthetics, which is absence of an orgasm in the female partner," Samadi said. "Topical anaesthetics can be absorbed through the vaginal wall and reduce the partner's sensation if a condom is not used."
Dr Harris Nagler is a urologist at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York. He reviewed the study and agreed that the wipes are a "novel technique for application of topical anaesthetic to decrease penile sensitivity and premature ejaculation."
But he added that the study was small and was also too vague about a number of factors, such as a "lack of consistency of measurement of time to ejaculation".
And Nagler said topical anaesthetics won't help every man battling premature ejaculation.
That's because the treatment has "also resulted in erectile dysfunction in some men due to penile numbness, and vaginal insensitivity – affecting partner satisfaction," Nagler said.
"However, it is reasonable to assume that there would be men who would benefit by this novel approach," he said.