Sex Question Friday: Can Women Experience Premature Orgasm Too?

A reader submitted the following question:

"Is premature ejaculation something that only happens to men? Can a woman climax too quickly too?"

Thanks for this very interesting question. Male premature orgasm, which is usually defined as consistently reaching orgasm before it is desired, is very common. For example, in a recent national British sex survey, nearly 15% of men reported experiencing it in the last year. Given its high prevalence and the fact that it's often accompanied by feelings of significant distress, male premature orgasm has attracted significant research and clinical attention.

Is it possible for women to experience premature orgasm too? It turns out that the answer is yes--but it's not nearly as common among women as it is among men. For instance, in that same national British sex survey mentioned above, just 2.3% of women reported experiencing premature orgasm in the past year.

However, next to no research attention has been devoted to studying women who experience this, save for a 2011 study published in the journal Sexologies [1]. In this study, researchers surveyed 510 Portuguese women aged 18 to 45 about the frequency with which they have experienced orgasm prematurely and the amount of distress they felt as a result of it.

To the researchers’ surprise, 40% of women reported at least one sexual episode in the past in which they reached orgasm faster than desired, another 14% reported experiencing this with some frequency, and another 3% experienced it so often that it could be considered a sexual dysfunction. Most women who experienced premature orgasm found it to be upsetting.

Given the limited research in this area, it is difficult to draw many conclusions right now. Much more research is needed to help us understand why some women orgasm sooner than desired and, for those who are distressed by this, what can be done to treat it.

Until we know more, is there anything that these women can do? It's possible that adapting some of the techniques used to treat premature ejaculation in men might work, such as the “stop-start” technique (a therapy originally developed by a urologist named Dr. Semans—I kid you not about his name). This technique involves continuing sexual activity to the point where orgasm feels as though it is about to happen, then stopping everything until the feeling subsides. Once it does, stimulation resumes, but stops again the next time the feeling arises. Going through this cycle of starting and stopping stimulation has been found to produce better orgasmic control in many men.

Another possibility might be using small doses of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). SSRIs, a common treatment for clinical depression, have the side effect of delaying orgasm in both men and women. For most people, this side effect is usually undesirable--but not so if you're intentionally looking to delay orgasm. Interestingly, some men have found success in resolving premature orgasm with the use of these drugs [2], so it is theoretically possible that they might offer similar benefits to women.

Alternatively, Kegel exercises, which have also been shown to offer benefit to some men experiencing premature orgasm, may hold promise as well.

In short, the answer to your question is yes--female premature orgasm is indeed real; however, little is currently known about it and more research is needed.

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[1] Carvalho, S., Moreira, A., Rosado, M., Correia, D., Maia, D., & Pimentel, P. (2011). Female premature orgasm: Does this exist? Sexologies, 20, 215-220.

[2] Kaufman, J., Rosen, R., Mudumbi, R., & Tesfaye, F. (2009). Treatment benefit of dapoxetine for premature ejaculation: Results from a placebo-controlled phase III trial. British Journal of Urology International, 103, 651-658.

Image Source: 123RF.com/Leszek Galsner

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