Men aren't the only ones who might find themselves peaking too early in the sack. According to a new study, a small percentage of women also experience premature orgasm.
The research, a survey of Portuguese women, found that 40 percent occasionally came to orgasm faster than they intended during sex. For about 3 percent of women, the problem was chronic.
"For this group, female premature orgasm is more than bothersome," said study researcher Serafim Carvalho, of the Hospital Magalhães Lemos in Porto, Portugal. "We think it's as serious a distress as it is in men."
Finishing too fast
Traditionally, female sexual dysfunction has not received the same attention as male sexual dysfunction, and early orgasm is no exception. Carvalho and his colleagues came across some ambiguous references in clinical textbooks and occasional anecdotal reports in their clinic of sexual medicine.
But while premature ejaculation in men is an official sexual dysfunction listed in the definitive psychiatrist's reference the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health (DSM), there is no such category for an uncontrollably early orgasm in women.
To find out if the experience of early orgasm is one that troubles women, Carvalho and his colleagues sent out a questionnaire to a general sample of Portuguese women ranging in age from 18 to 45. The questionnaire asked about the frequency of premature orgasm, whether the women ever felt a loss of control over the timing of the orgasm, and whether they felt distress over the issue. The women were also asked about their relationship satisfaction.
Just over 60 percent, or 510 women, responded to the mail-in survey. Of those, 40 percent had experienced an orgasm earlier than they'd desired at some point in their lives. Another 14 percent reported more frequent premature orgasms. This 14 percent have "probable" cases that could require clinical attention, Carvalho told LiveScience.
Another 3.3 percent met the criteria for having a dysfunction due to the premature orgasm, Carvalho said. They didn't find any link between premature orgasm and relationship satisfaction.
Distress and frustration
"At one extreme are women who have a complete control over their orgasm," he and his colleagues write in a report to be published in the journal Sexologies. "[At] the other extreme is a group of women who report having a lack of control over the moment of orgasm, which occurs very early during intercourse, leading to personal or couple discomfort."
One woman described her discomfort with her quick orgasms to the researchers as similar to what a man might feel in the case of premature ejaculation.
"I feel the same way men must feel about premature ejaculation and don’t completely see the difference — I finish very quickly, whereas my boyfriend doesn’t get a chance to, and it's really starting to bother me," she said. "Once I orgasm, I find it uncomfortable to continue, the mood changes and he ends up missing out, which I feel bad about."
While premature orgasms may be distressing, inability to orgasm is likely a more widespread problem. A 2010 study of American women found that trouble reaching orgasm is the most common sexual complaint in women, with 54 percent of 18- to 30-year-olds reporting this problem.
The study is preliminary, and more research on a wider group of women is needed to determine the extent of female premature orgasm, Carvalho said. But women who orgasm too quickly shouldn't be shy about talking with a doctor, he said: "In most cases, this is not a serious problem."