It's highly embarrassing when it does, but it happens. In fact it happens to around 1 in 3 men within the UK*, and is one of the most common ejaculation problems a man will face within his lifetime. While physically harmless, premature ejaculation is nevertheless somewhat humiliating, and can also make a man's sexual relationships more difficult than they need to be.
*The figure may in fact be higher due to embarrassment on the part of respondents.
Essentially it's a condition in which a man reaches orgasm and expels semen within a few minutes of sexual activity. In mild cases it may happen after only minor penile stimulation, while in particularly severe cases it may happen before the gentleman has even gotten his trousers off.
Now it should be pointed out that there's not really an official length a time in which it's normal for men to ejaculate. One study conducted proposed an average time of around five minutes, from the moment the penis is in the vagina. Naturally other variables may influence this, such as the level of foreplay before intercourse, the time between the last orgasm, the arousal of the man in question, and whether he's imbibed anything that may delay ejaculation (like alcohol).
How long is long enough is also a matter of preference between the man and his partner. Some may find five minutes or so long enough, while others may be happier with three minutes, or others ten. No one can really truly say how longer intercourse should last for, other than by saying that it lasts for as long as it needs to.
To find out more about what PE is and how to delay it, visit our premature ejaculation page.
While common amongst men, there's not really a consensus as to what exactly causes PE. Instead a large number of causes have been suggested and diagnosed that are common amongst most cases.
There is no single hard and fast cause, of course, and often the case is that there are several factors all working together.
As mentioned earlier, not all men seek treatment for premature ejaculation, as just how short is too short is a matter of personal preference. As long as they still enjoy healthy and mutually fulfilling sex lives with their partners, many men just make do. Others, however, try to find ways to alleviate or cure their condition.
Just as the causes of PE are numerous and not completely understood, so too is it that there are a number of ways of treating the condition, some of which are effective and others less so.
Some men choose to try and self-condition themselves during intercourse by distracting themselves to prevent or delay orgasm, but this has poor results and just detracts from the experience for both partners. Others try to thrust more slowly, reduce contact to the penis as much as possible, or orgasm shortly beforehand. Some men also drink alcohol before intercourse or wear more than one condom, but neither can be recommended.
Therapy can also be a means of treating premature ejaculation, including couples counselling sessions. These can be used to work with your partner to find ways to help delay orgasms together, and talking with your partner about these things is always an effective solution. This is especially helpful if anxiety or stress is the underlying root of the problem.
Other men also seek pharmaceutical help when it comes to difficulties in orgasming. Prilligy for example is a prescription drug that stimulates the penis longer, allowing ejaculation to be postponed for longer during intercourse. It's widely considered to be an effective means of treating PE. Another pharmaceutical method is use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are a form of antidepressant that can also prolong orgasms. Before taking any sort of pharmaceutical remedy, however, always ensure that you receive the go-ahead from your doctor, and follow instructions exactly.