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Distress, disease, desire: perspectives on the medicalisation of premature ejaculation
  1. Ylva Söderfeldt1,
  2. Adam Droppe2,
  3. Tim Ohnhäuser1
  1. 1Institute for History, Theory and Ethics in Medicine, RWTH Aachen University Hospital, Aachen, Germany
  2. 2Malmö University, Malmö, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ylva Söderfeldt, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Boltzmannstraße 22, 141 95 Berlin, Germany; ylva.soderfeldt{at}


The discovery that certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors delay ejaculation and the later development and approval of dapoxetine as an on-demand treatment option has led to a dramatic increase in medical interest in premature ejaculation. This paper analyses the diagnostic criteria and the discussion within the medical community about suitable treatments against the backdrop of theories of science, sex and gender. Our conclusion is that the diagnosis itself and the suggested treatments contribute to normative models of sexual conduct and therefore reinforce the norms that cause patients' distress over ejaculating ‘too soon’.

  • Concept of Health
  • Sexuality/Gender
  • Drugs and Drug Industry

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  • Contributors All authors contributed equally.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.