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In a controlled medical test, 90 percent of the 300 men who participated reported that the spray — which contains  a topical anesthetic — helped them to last about six times longer during intercourse.
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TODAY contributor
updated 4/8/2009 11:03:10 AM ET 2009-04-08T15:03:10

Since it’s about sex, it is fodder for comedians and a great provoker of giggles. But to those affected — men and the women who love them — premature ejaculation is no laughing matter.

“It affects at least 40 percent of the men, and a lot of people think the numbers are even higher, because there’s still this tee-hee factor about sex and performance, and guys are embarrassed to report it,” Dr. Nancy Snyderman, chief medical editor for NBC News, told TODAY’s Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira Wednesday in New York. “Doctors and sex therapists who really study this think, ‘Yeah, it’s a real problem.’ ”

The good news, according to medical researchers in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is that help is on the way in the form of spray that contains a topical anesthetic that numbs the penis.

In a controlled medical test, 90 percent of the 300 men who participated reported that the spray helped them to last about six times longer during intercourse.

“These are men who, when they start making love, ejaculate within seconds,” Snyderman said. “And so they found this spray that has a numbing component in it allowed men to have lovemaking up to four minutes.”

Snyderman noted that other products are on the market that claim to have the same effect. But the spray concocted in Ireland is the first to be proven effective in a controlled medical experiment.

The researchers reported that men in the study group who were given a placebo spray reported that they were able to last 1.7 times longer before climaxing, lending credence to the theory that there is also a psychological component to premature ejaculation.

The spray has the decidedly unsexy name of PSD502. It has been approved for use in Great Britain, and Snyderman said the next step in the United States is for it to be approved by the FDA for use here.

“Within the next couple of years, I think you’re going to see this on the market,” she said.

Helps women, too
Snyderman said that premature ejaculation affects women as well as men, which wouldn’t be breaking news to women.

“We know when couples love each other and have a robust sex life, it means they’re happier, they sleep better, performance in the workplace is better,” she told Vieira and Lauer. “When sex becomes a troublesome area, yeah, there’s a ripple effect.”

The spray was developed at Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. The lead researcher, Prof. Wallace Dinsmore, told British newspapers, “Our study shows that when the PSD502 spray was applied to the man’s penis five minutes before intercourse it improved both sexual performance and sexual satisfaction, which are key factors in treating premature ejaculation.”

“It’s so easy to giggle about sex,” Snyderman said. “You see these headlines and you go, ‘Wow, what a problem.’ The reality is it’s a real problem, and especially for young couples.”

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Video: Could new sex spray help couples?

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