It’s not uncommon to be worried about how long you last during sex. Firstly, it’s (of course) perfectly normal for sex to last for different lengths of time. From day to day, and person to person.

The NHS quotes a study that found the average time to ejaculation after penetration was around five and a half minutes. But it will be different for every man, and every time you have sex. There is no ‘normal’ – just whatever makes you and your partner happy.

How early is too early?

A simple definition of premature ejaculation (PE) is where vaginal intercourse lasts for one minute or less on most occasions. The experts talk about the ‘intravaginal ejaculatory latency time’ or IELT. But there are other factors too, such as how much control you have over ejaculation, whether it’s causing you anxiety and whether it’s affecting your relationships. Our blog ‘How early is too early?’ has some useful advice to help you decide if PE is an issue you should be consider checking or treating.

If you’re in a relationship the best thing you can do is talk about it with your partner. We know how hard that can be, but communicating your feelings can benefit you both in the bedroom. So, have the conversation and if you’re both happy with your sex life, stop worrying. But if it is having an impact on the way either of you feel about sex or about each other, then it probably is time to do something about it.

How to last longer in bed

There are a number of practical steps that can be taken to improve the duration of sex. Take a read of our article ‘How to last longer in bed‘ for tips including the squeeze or ‘stop/ start’ technique. Sex should be fun, so focus on foreplay and practice the recommended techniques with your partner. There are also some medical treatments you can try, one of which is a desensitising spray.

What are desensitising sprays?

Desensitising sprays usually contain local anaesthetics, such as lidocaine. Local anaesthetics work by blocking nerve impulses in the skin, thereby reducing the sensitivity of your penis. This delays the time it takes before you ejaculate and can improve your control over ejaculation.

Is lidocaine spray effective?

In a word, yes. There are several small clinical trials that have shown that local anaesthetic sprays are effective at delaying the time to ejaculation. One study from 2003 asked 14 men to use an anaesthetic spray before sex, with 11 men completing the trial. The average time before orgasm increased from one minute and 24 seconds to eleven minutes and 21 seconds. That’s nearly eight times longer! A 2004 study included 42 men and the average time before orgasm increased to eight minutes and 45 seconds. A larger study in 2009 included 300 men and found the average duration increased by more than six times.

These studies also showed an improvement in control over ejaculation and improved sexual satisfaction for both partners, with very few negative effects. All-in-all a positive experience, and not a bad study to be involved in!

Are lidocaine sprays safe?

Like all medicines, lidocaine sprays have been tested, in both men and women, at doses much higher than those needed for it to work.vi The levels absorbed by the body are a fraction of anything that might cause toxic effects. The only serious side-effect could be an allergic reaction.

If you know that you or your partner are allergic to lidocaine or any of the other ingredients in the spray, then don’t use it. Lidocaine is the same local anaesthetic used by dentists or during laser hair removal. If you’re not sure or you’re worried about allergies, do a ‘patch test’; use a couple of sprays on your wrist to see if any redness or irritation develops.

Because only tiny amounts of lidocaine are absorbed by the body when applied to the skin, there are relatively few side-effects. The most common side effect is a stinging or burning sensation when applied. If this becomes a problem, use less product or stop using it. Temporary numbness might also occur and lidocaine spray has caused the loss of erection, although this is usually due to waiting for it to work. Less common side-effects could include redness, irritation or itching. The more spray you use the more likely you are to experience side-effects. If you are worried about any side-effects, speak with a pharmacist or your doctor.

How do I use lidocaine spray?

You can vary the amount of spray you use until you find the dose that works best for you. The usual dose is between three and eight sprays. Start off using the smaller dose and see how well it works for you. If you need to, increase the number of sprays you use until you achieve the desired effect. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and never exceed the recommended dose.

It doesn’t matter whether or not your penis is erect when you apply the spray, but pull back your foreskin first (if you have one). Apply the spray directly to the head and shaft of your penis and leave it to work for around five to fifteen minutes. Before having sex it’s a good idea to wipe off any excess spray as the lidocaine could be transferred to your partner. A wet-wipe will do the job. The anaesthetic will still work provided it’s been left on for long enough.

To see if lidocaine spray is right for you, click here for a free consultation

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