Erectile dysfunction (ED) and premature ejaculation (PE) are different conditions. However, they have some similarities, and one may contribute to the other.

ED is a common condition affecting around 30 million people in the United States. It occurs when a person cannot get or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. This can be a short-term or long-term concern.

PE describes when ejaculation occurs sooner than a person would like during sexual activity. The condition is the most common sexual disorder among males, affecting 1 in 3 individuals.

ED and PE may occur together, and both conditions may overlap and influence each other.

Read on to learn about the link between ED and PE, their respective causes, potential treatment options, and more.

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ED and PE are two common types of sexual dysfunction that affect a person’s performance during sexual intercourse.

Although both conditions can affect people of all ages, ED is more common in people over age 40 years, and PE occurs more frequently in individuals aged 18–59 years.

Research indicates a strong link between ED and PE. Studies have found that 30–60% of people with ED also have PE. Despite this, research has not determined a causal link between the conditions.

ED and PE can occur simultaneously, and their relationship is bidirectional. This means if a person has one of them, they may have an increased risk of the other.

Some of this link can stem from a person’s mental state. For example, people with ED know they cannot sustain an erection. As a result, they may develop a habit of rushing to ejaculate before they lose their erection, causing them to ejaculate prematurely. They may have difficulty changing this habit.

Similarly, people with PE may worry about their sexual performance and develop performance anxiety, affecting their ability to achieve and maintain an erection.

Several factors may play a role in ED and PE. Some of their causes are different and relate to other health conditions, and other causes are similar.

Causes of ED may include:

Learn more about erectile dysfunction.

Causes of PE may include:

  • irregular levels of brain chemicals, such as serotonin
  • irregular hormone levels
  • a prostate or urethra infection
  • depression
  • stress
  • worry about sexual performance
  • lack of confidence
  • feeling of guilt
  • relationship issues
  • early sexual experiences
  • prostatitis

However, it is important to note that lifelong PE has no known cause.

Learn more about premature ejaculation.

According to the American Urology Association, individuals with ED and PE should initially receive treatment for ED. This may reduce performance anxiety and alleviate PE.

Treatment options for ED may include the following:

  • Treatment for underlying health conditions: If someone has a condition that contributes to ED, such as type 2 diabetes, treating it may reduce ED symptoms.
  • Psychological counseling: If an individual is experiencing anxiety, stress, or depression that is contributing to ED, a doctor may suggest visiting a psychologist or counselor.
  • Oral medications: Phosphodiesterase type-5 (PDE5) inhibitors, such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra), and avanafil (Stendra), relax the muscles in the penis, increasing blood flow.
  • Testosterone therapy: People with ED due to low testosterone levels may have testosterone replacement therapy.
  • Penile injections: Doctors may prescribe injectable medications, such as alprostadil (Caverject). A person injects these medications into the base or side of the penis to expand the blood vessels, increasing blood flow.
  • Intraurethral medication: Alprostadil is also available as a suppository to place inside the penile urethra.
  • Vacuum erection device: A vacuum erection device or penis pump is a tube a person places over the penis with a battery-powered or hand-powered pump. The pump sucks the air out of the tube, creating a vacuum that draws blood into the penis. A tension ring at the base of the penis helps keep it firm.
  • Penile implants: These are penile devices on either side of the penis that can be inflatable or semi-rigid. Inflatable implants allow a person to control the duration of an erection and semi-rigid implants keep the penis firm but bendable.

A doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes that may improve ED. These could include quitting smoking if applicable, maintaining a moderate weight, and exercising as part of a daily routine.

If treating ED does not improve PE, a doctor may suggest the following treatments:

  • seeking counseling to help reduce performance anxiety
  • practicing behavioral techniques to delay ejaculation
  • performing pelvic floor exercises
  • using condoms to make the penis less sensitive
  • applying desensitizing sprays, creams, or gels, such as benzocaine, lidocaine, or prilocaine, to reduce sensation and delay ejaculation
  • taking oral medications, such as antidepressants, pain relievers, and PDE5 inhibitors

Research has studied alternative treatments, such as yoga, acupuncture, and meditation, in helping PE. However, researchers need to conduct further studies to determine their effectiveness.

Learn more about treatment for erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.

A person should contact a healthcare professional if they have concerns about erections or are experiencing other sexual issues, such as PE. They should also ask a doctor for advice if they have a condition contributing to ED, such as diabetes or heart disease.

Both ED and PE are common and treatable, and people should not feel ashamed or embarrassed to discuss them with a healthcare professional.

ED and PE are common conditions that may co-occur, overlap, and influence each other. Around 30-60% of individuals with ED also tend to experience PE.

Additionally, ED may lead to PE when people rush to ejaculate because they know they cannot sustain an erection and develop a habit. If a doctor suspects a person has ED and PE, they will typically treat ED first, which often improves PE.