Erectile Dysfunction and Premature Ejaculation: The Similarities and Differences

Erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation are two of the most common sexual problems encountered by men. Below, we summarise how ED and PE are similar, different and how they can be most effectively treated.

Published: Thursday 21 January 2021


difference between ed and pe

Erectile dysfunction (ED) and premature ejaculation (PE) are two of the most commonly experienced sexual problems by men. It is estimated that more than 50% of men over the age of 40 experience ED and more than 30% of men experience PE at some time during their lives [1,2]. Given the commonality of these conditions, it’s essential to know how they compare.

It’s a common belief that erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation are the same conditions. However, this is a common misconception as they are both very different. While there are stark differences between these two sexual health conditions, we explain the similarities and why they are often confused and referred to interchangeably.

So, first, let’s clear up exactly what these conditions are and why there is confusion.

What’s the difference between Erectile Dysfunction and Premature Ejaculation?

Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (also known as impotence) is a sexual health condition experienced by men. Men that have erectile dysfunction find it difficult to get and maintain an erection long enough for sex.

ED is overwhelming a result of an underlying physical dysfunction compared to strictly psychological or emotional problems. The underlying causes of ED range from a series of factors, such as: as a result of side effects from certain medications, high blood pressure, stress, tiredness and anxiety.

ED occurs due to restricted blood flow to the penis, making getting an erection difficult. For men without ED, the enzyme phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE-5) is responsible for causing an erection to subside following intercourse. For men with ED, the activity of this enzyme occurs too soon, constricting blood flow to the penis which results in the loss of an erection.

ED can be effectively treated with medications called PDE-5 inhibitors, which work to prevent the activity of PDE-5 to help with maintaining an erection. Erectile dysfunction treatment options include Viagra, Viagra Connect, Sildenafil, Cialis, and Tadalafil.

Visit our ‘Erectile Dysfunction: Everything You Need To Know Guide’ for further information and advice.

Premature Ejaculation

Premature ejaculation is where a man experiences ejaculation too soon, often less than 2 minutes following sexual contact. Average male ejaculation latency time typically ranges between 5 mins 30s and 7 mins. Furthermore, if premature ejaculation is experienced more than half of the time, then treatment may be considered a viable solution. Premature ejaculation is most common for men between the ages of 18-35 years old.

Common physical causes of PE include issues with the prostate, thyroid or use of recreational drugs. Common psychological causes of PE include stress, relationship problems and anxiety about sexual performance.

Premature ejaculation can be effectively treated with clinically proven medication such as Priligy. Priligy contains the active ingredient, dapoxetine, which is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) which works to help delay ejaculation by more than 3 times the duration.

For more information about PE, visit our ‘Priligy and Premature Ejaculation’ guide.

The key differences between ED and PE

Nature of the condition

ED does not directly cause issues with ejaculation, rather that an erection cannot be sustained long enough for ejaculation. Whereas with PE, the issue is directly due to ejaculating too quickly but those with PE don’t have issues getting an erection.

Underlying causes

ED is mainly caused as a result of possible side effects of medications, high blood pressure and possibly psychological problems. However, PE is mainly caused by problems with the thyroid, prostate, hormone issues and possibly anxiety about encountering problems when it comes to having sex.

Treatments

The treatment options for ED consist of Viagra, Viagra Connect, Sildenafil, Cialis, Tadalafil. They are all PDE-5 inhibitors. Our ‘The Essential Guide to Choosing the Right ED Medication’ can help when it comes to identifying a treatment that works best for you. The ‘first-line therapy’ PE medication, Priligy, contains the active ingredient dapoxetine which is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). STUD 100 numbing spray can also work as a supplementary treatment to Priligy, it contains the numbing agent and active ingredient lidocaine.

Why Erectile Dysfunction and Premature Ejaculation often confused with each other?

Similarities between ED and PE

While erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation are both very different conditions, they are similar in that they both impair sexual performance and can be frustrating to deal with. They are also similar in that they are both time-orientated conditions, where ED is characterised by a quick loss of an erection and PE is characterised by ejaculating too fast following initial sexual contact.

Furthermore, for some people, ED and PE can be linked due to anxiety about sexual performance. It is possible for someone that experiences ED, to then experience PE as a result of trying to maintain an erection by over-stimulation and excitement. If this happens, it is then possible for someone to experience ED as a result of trying not to ejaculate too soon due to PE.

What else can I do to help improve my sexual health?

When it comes to treating ED and PE, clinically proven medication is regarded as the first-line therapy option. However, below are some other recommendations to help with treating both ED and PE.

  1. Talking - Opening up to your partner and being honest is an effective way to help reduce stress and relieve any pressure when it comes to intercourse. Furthermore, speaking with a doctor or pharmacist is important so that advice and treatment can be easily identified.
  2. Trying to relax - Relaxing during sex can help to reduce anxiety, especially when it comes to overthinking and worrying.
  3. The stop-start method - Practising stopping and starting your arousal may help to build confidence and help reduce anxiety.
  4. Reflecting on lifestyle factors - Reflecting on lifestyle factors that contribute to the different causes of ED and PE is also recommended. To help ED; quitting smoking, eating healthily and exercising can each have a positive impact. To help PE, reducing alcohol intake, use of recreational drugs and stress levels can each have a positive effect.
Greg Smith

Authored by Greg Smith

Digital Marketing Manager


As Pharmica’s Digital Marketing Manager, Greg manages, optimises and oversees a range of digital marketing channels essential for business growth.

Day-to-day, Greg implements brand awareness campaigns, analyses data and works closely with the team to enhance user experience.

The Physical Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
The Physical Causes of Erectile Dysfunction