Erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation are two of the most common sexual dysfunctions that affect men. Although it is an awkward subject to talk about for many, it is more common than you might think. They are both types of sexual dysfunctions but can affect a man’s sexual performance in different ways.

In this article, we will explain what they both are, what causes them, what the differences and similarities are between them, and what solutions are available to treat both.

What is erectile dysfunction (ED)?

ED is a male sexual dysfunction that affects a man’s ability to gain and maintain an erection long enough for sexual intercourse. Erectile dysfunction can be a one-off short-term problem or a long-lasting one. Here are the signs to look out for to see if you have been suffering from ED:

  • You’re able to get an erection sometimes, but not every time you want to have sex
  • You can get an erection, but it doesn’t stay hard enough for fulfilling satisfactory sexual intercourse
  • You can’t get an erection at all.

What causes erectile dysfunction?

ED is a common problem among men, affecting around 30 million men in the United States. There are many factors to take into account as to what causes each case of erectile dysfunction. These can be both physical and psychological. Here is a list of factors that might contribute to you having ED:

  • You have certain diseases such as diabetes, or cardiovascular disease
  • Old age
  • High blood pressure/ high cholesterol
  • Overweight/ unhealthy lifestyle
  • You take certain medication
  • Drug/alcohol abuse
  • Psychological factors such as stress or performance anxiety.

What is premature ejaculation (PE)?

PE is when a man ejaculates too quickly during sexual intimacy. around 20-30% of sexually active men will experience premature ejaculation at some point. Premature ejaculation can have adverse effects on sexual relationships as well as causing stress and anxiety. Here are a few signs that you might have PE:

  • You ejaculate within one 1-3 minutes of penetration nearly all of the time
  • You cannot delay ejaculation nearly every time you have sex
  • Experience anxiety and frustration, and as a result, tend to avoid sexual intimacy

What causes premature ejaculation?

Just like erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation can be brought on by physical and psychological factors. These include:


  • Urological conditions that affect the urethra or prostate
  • Hormonal imbalances caused by hypertension or thyroid disease
  • Chemical imbalances in the area of the brain that releases ejaculation signals
  • Hereditary issues


  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • low self-esteem
  • relationship issues or a bad experience with a previous sexual encounter

stressed man

PE can be split into two different categories:

Lifelong premature ejaculation – This is when PE happens all of the time and can start from the first sexual encounter.

Acquired premature ejaculation – Acquired PE can be developed after having previous sexual encounters without a problem.

Differences and similarities between erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation

By nature erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation are different sexual dysfunctions. One is a problem with the inability to maintain an erection. The other problem is early ejaculation.

Here is a breakdown of the differences:

Erectile dysfunction

Problem with gaining an erection long enough to have sexual intercourse, but no problem with ejaculating too quickly.

Premature ejaculation

Premature ejaculation doesn’t have a problem getting an erection, but it will make you ejaculate sooner than wanted.

However, there are similarities in that both of them can be brought on by physical and psychological factors. Both also have a big impact on sexual performance and can cause relationship problems with sexual partners.

Solutions for ED and PE

If you have experienced either of these sexual dysfunctions, don’t worry there are different types of treatments available.

Erectile dysfunction

There could be a simple solution to treating erectile dysfunction like making lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or cutting out alcohol or drugs. If that doesn’t work there are also ED medicines that can help. This type of drug is in the PDE5 inhibitors category. These are taken orally and work by stabilizing erection.

Examples of PDE5 inhibitors prescribed to treat ED are Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, and Spedra.

Premature ejaculation

There are multiple ways to treat premature ejaculation. These can be physical exercises such as the pause-squeeze technique or pelvic floor exercises to help delay premature ejaculation. Finding the right condom can also help ejaculating too quickly as it desensitizes the penis. Examples of these include Durex prolong and Trojan extended pleasure.  Some behavioral techniques can also be used such as masturbating an hour or two before sex.

Recommended reading: The Squeeze Technique: What It Is, How It Works, and If It’s Effective for Treating Premature Ejaculation

If none of these techniques work for you there are medications to help with premature ejaculation. These can be in the form of topical numbing creams and gels. Antidepressant medications like SSRIs or pain relievers are also available which have both been proven to delay ejaculation. Both can be taken orally.

If you don’t like the thought of medication there are also natural remedies available to treat PE


To conclude, erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation are fairly common in men. Although they are different types of sexual dysfunctions that affect your sexual performance in different ways they both have their similarities. They can both be brought on by physical and psychological ways and can both have a detrimental effect on your sexual and mental health. If you have experienced either try the solutions mentioned above.

Dr. Frehiwot Tekie

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