Sex Tips

Women Can Orgasm Prematurely, Too

January 23, 2012 by Justin Lehmiller

Premature ejaculation is the most commonly reported sexual difficulty among men. In fact, studies have found that more than one in five men reach orgasm before they (or their partners) would like [1]. Although the popular media tends to depict premature ejaculation in a humorous, lighthearted way (ever seen American Pie?), it’s something that can actually be quite distressing to those who live with it.

Until recently, sexuality researchers were under the impression that reaching orgasm too quickly was a sexual dysfunction unique to men and that, if anything, women only suffered from the opposite problem of taking too long to climax. However, there is now scientific evidence that at least some women can’t last as long as they would like to in bed [2].

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 having at least one sexual episode in the past in which they reached orgasm more quickly than desired, another 14% reported experiencing this problem with some frequency, and another 3% experienced it so often that it could be considered a sexual dysfunction. Most women who experienced this problem found it to be quite upsetting.

Given that this is only the first scientific study to address this issue, it is difficult to draw too many conclusions from it. Much more research is needed to help us understand the causes, prevalence, and possible treatments for this problem. But until we know more, is there anything that women who experience this problem can do about it? One possibility would be to try adapting some of the techniques used to treat premature ejaculation in men, 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 should ultimately produce better orgasmic control. Another possibility would be to talk to a doctor about potentially taking a small dose of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). SSRIs are a common treatment for clinical depression, but one of the primary side effects in both men and women is delayed orgasm. Some men have found success in resolving premature orgasm with the aid of these drugs [3], so it is theoretically possible that they might help women as well.

Although we still have much to learn about it, female premature orgasm is real; however, it is likely treatable.

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[1] Steggall, M., Fowler, C., & Pryce, A. (2008). Combination therapy for premature ejaculation: Results of a small-scale study. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 23, 365-376.

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

[3] 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.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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