Friday Weird Science: Creative Uses of the Stopwatch

Dec 11 2009 Published by under Friday Weird Science

For Sci, the weird science tends to come in spurts (heh heh...heh). There will be times when I am literally digging through Pubmed trying to find ANYTHING ODD AT ALL, and then there are times, like now, when people are tweeting and emailing and g-chatting and all but screaming in my ear with the weird. Got enough crazy sexual crap around here to last for WEEKS.
And a good thing, too, cause it's all about premature ejaculation, and don't we all wish we could last for weeks...
So we get to this week. I was going to cover an amazing dog caper, but this one is so very relevant to LAST week's weird science that I felt they had to follow in sequence. Dog capers next week. Stay tuned. Waldinger et al. "A multinational population survey of intravaginal ejaculation latency time." J. Sex. Med. 2005.
And I hereby dedicate this post (for better or worse...) to Miriam of the Oyster's Garter (and Seaplex!), who sent Sci the paper within TWO MINUTES of me sending out a desperate tweet for journal access. She was not a bit premature. 🙂 Also, yay Twitter.

So for many, many years, doctors have been treating people coming to them with "premature ejaculation" (Dang, I used the video LAST WEEK! WHY!). But here's the question. How premature IS premature?
Premature ejaculation is the most common sexual complaint from guys, and can lead to some pretty serious self-esteem issues. But the question is, when is ejaculation REALLY premature? And how often are men misled by things like porn into thinking they are premature when they are really not?
To determine this, the authors of this study gathered 500 dudes from five different countries (The UK, Spain, the US, Turkey, and the Netherlands. Possible preponderance of white guys). They also recruited their partners. Subjects had to be at least 18 and had to have been with their partner for at least 6 months. Subjects were NOT screened for basically anything, they wanted them to be as random as possible (or at least, as possible you can be with an internet recruitment). When the subjects signed up, an experimenter would show up at their home with a stopwatch.
...and I bet your mind went somewhere very hilarious just then.
But worry not! The experiment merely GAVE the couple the stopwatch, along with a sex diary. The couple had to record via stopwatch all their sexual encounters, and also keep track via the diary. Each couple did this for a month. What they were measuring was the IELT, the Intravaginal Ejaculation Latency Time, which is the time from which the penis first enters the vagina to the time the guy is done. Each time, the couple recorded the date, time of day, and whether they had remembered to use the stopwatch. They also asked whether or not the men were circumcised.
They ended up totaling over FOUR THOUSAND sexual events. And they came up with this:

You can see along the x axis the time in seconds, and alone the y the % of men that had ejaculations at that time point (it's not going to total 100% because they were taking a lot of repeated measures from the same dudes).
And the result? Looks like most had an IELT of around 300 s. That's around 5 minutes (5.4 minutes, to be exact). Feel premature now?
They also broke the data down by whether or not men were circumcised (they had to exclude Turkey for this portion, as apparently every participant there was circumcised, and they wanted both conditions for each country). Results were not significant. It was in a table, and Sci would TOTALLY graph it, but they can't give me a freakin' S.E.M.?! Sci refuses to graph without error bars, and can't be bothered to work the numbers at midnight. But circumcision appeared to make no difference in how long it took men to ejaculate.
Interestingly, though, there was a correlation with ejaculation latency and AGE! And not in the direction you'd think. It turns out that younger men appear to take about 6.5 min, while older men appear to take around 4.3 min (no data on whether this was due to frequency or not).
Another interesting finding emerged when results were broken down by COUNTRY. You know what they say about those Americans and Brits...well, if they don't, they SHOULD be saying things! Broken down by country, people from the US and UK lasted around 7.3 min (7 in the US, 7.6 in the UK). The Netherlands and Spain came in second at around 5.5. Unfortunately, Turkey came in dead last with an IELT of...3.7 min. Ouch.
Personally, Sci doesn't really think this breaking it down by country is a physiological phenomenon. I mean, it COULD be, I'm not ruling it out. But I would venture to say that some cultures might have stronger sociological pressure for things like "lasting longer" which might influence the results, and so I wouldn't want to break it down by country until we could parse that out.
And of course, future studies are going to have to address some important things. How often were these guys getting laid? What was the effect of frequency of intercourse on IELT? What about possible effects of masturbation? Effects of condom usage? Condom type? Yeah, a lot of questions still to be answered.
But this study answers one VERY important question. What is premature ejaculation? Given a sample population, the tail ends, the furthest 0.5 or 2.5% out from the average, would be the definitions of both premature and delayed ejaculation. This would place premature ejaculation around 1-2 min (though of course there is a skew). Bet you don't think you're so premature NOW.
Waldinger, M., Quinn, P., Dilleen, M., Mundayat, R., Schweitzer, D., & Boolell, M. (2005). A Multinational Population Survey of Intravaginal Ejaculation Latency Time The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2 (4), 492-497 DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2005.00070.x

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