The drug, dapoxetine, could benefit the approximately 30 percent of men ages 20 to 50 who experience premature ejaculation.
Dapoxetine is a type of drug called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). This class of drugs is used extensively to treat depression and related emotional disorders. Some men who take SSRIs for depression tell their doctors it also helps lessen premature ejaculation.
Such anecdotal reports have led some doctors to prescribe low doses of SSRIs to treat premature ejaculation. But no scientific studies have been done to assess the safety and effectiveness of these drugs in treating premature ejaculation.
Premature ejaculation seems to result from a "hyper-responsive sexual center," a midbrain area that controls orgasm and ejaculation, says Dr. Ronald W. Lewis, chief of the urology section at the Medical College of Georgia.
The college is one of the 60 study sites, and Lewis is the investigator for the trial there.
Lewis says SSRIs seem to treat depression by blocking the reuptake of neurotransmitters, which enable cells to communicate. By doing so, SSRIs make more serotonin active and available in the brain.
"Neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine are in the sexual brain center that controls when ejaculations occur. If you can interfere with those chemicals, like the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, you will delay ejaculation and orgasm," Lewis says.
To find out more about premature ejaculation and other male sexual dysfunction issues, visit this Columbia University Web site.