Premature ejaculation (PE) reportedly affects an estimated 20 to 30 percent of men, though this reality often gets lost in the many punch lines made about the condition. (Our minds immediately go to that one SNL sketch from The Lonely Island; you know the one.) 

The problem with making fun of men who might experience PE is that it moves them to suffer in silence. They're discouraged from speaking up and addressing potential treatment with their doctor, not to mention their partner. While untreated PE is not associated with any long-term health problems, it is associated with an increase in stress, anxiety, and relationship problems.

So all jokes aside, here's what you need to know about PE.

1. You're not alone

PE occurs when a man ejaculates sooner than expected, about one to three minutes. And it's a common sexual complaint, according to the Mayo Clinic; as many as one out of three men have experienced this problem at some point in their life.

2. Diagnosis criteria

It's not a cause for concern if it happens infrequently. If, however, it always or nearly always occurs within one minute of penetration, you may meet the diagnostic criteria for PE, the Mayo Clinic reported. Other criteria include being unable to ejaculate during intercourse all or nearly all of the time, plus allowing feelings of distress and frustration to deter you from future sexual intimacy.

3. Masturbation counts

PE isn't limited to sexual intercourse. It can also happen when men masturbate.

4. Risk factors

The Mayo Clinic cites the exact cause of PE remains unknown. Experts once believed there were only physiological causes, but recent research shows the condition is more complicated than that, hinting at the possibility of biological causes.

5. Physiological

Physiological causes include "situations in which you may have hurried to reach climax in order to avoid being discovered; guilty feelings that increase your tendency to rush through sexual encounters; erectile dysfunction; anxiety; and relationship problems," the Mayo Clinic reported.

6. Biological

Biological causes include abnormal levels of testosterone or certain neurotransmitters, as well as an abnormal reflex activity of the ejactulatory system, certain thyroid problems, inflammation and infection of the prostate or urethra, otherwise inherited traits, and nerve damage from surgery or trauma. The latter two causes are thought to be incredibly rare.

7. Two types

There's "lifelong PE" and "acquired," or secondary, PE. Lifelong means "men have experienced the condition nearly all of the time since their first sexual encounters." Though symptoms are similar for the acquired variety, "it develops after men have had previous sexual experiences without ejaculatory problems."

8. Side effects

PE won't necessarily lead to health problems, but it may lead to personal problems, such as increased stress and anxiety. There's also the possibility of fertility problems, the Mayo Clinic says. PE can occasionally make fertilization difficult or impossible for couples trying to have a baby.

9. Testing

Doctors test for PE by asking men about their sexual history, performing a general physical exam and a possible urine test to rule out infection. If men struggle with PE and erectile dysfunction, doctors may then order blood tests to measure testosterone levels.

10. Treatment

The most common treatment options are behavioral techniques (masturbating a couple hours before intercourse), topical anesthetics (numbing agents to reduce sensation), oral medications to delay orgasm, such as antidepressants, and counseling. Treatments take time to work, and for some men, relief may be a result of combined treatment.

11. Alternative treatment

There are also alternative treatments men can consider. Dr. Laura Berman explains several for Everyday Health, including deep breathing techniques; kegel exercises; and tantric techniques "to establish an intimate connection."

12. "Stop-Start" and "Squeeze"

Perhaps the most popular alternative treatments are the "stop-start" and "squeeze" methods. When men "stop-start," they aim to master the technique of masturbating alone and getting close to orgasm, but stopping until they can't anymore. The "squeeze" method requires a man "squeeze the base of the penis at the same point that the stop-and-start technique would be used, when he is at the brink of orgasm," Bermain explained. "The idea is to reduce your partner's erection through squeezing."

13. Expert-approved approaches

To sex and relationships counselor Dr. Ian Kerner, author of She Comes First and the e-book Overcoming Premature Ejaculation, these alternative treatments aren't as helpful as men have been led to believe. He believes the best approaches, thanks to recent research, are rooted in behavioral, medical, and interpersonal modalities.

14. "Suffer in silence"

Because there's "this tendency to ridicule" the condition, Kerner told Vice UK, it's harder for men to have relevant conversations with both their partner and doctor, meaning they likely suffer in silence. Here, The Mayo Clinic helps men prepare for their appointment.

15. No cure

The general consensus is PE can't be cured, only managed, Kerner said. Take comfort in the fact many men have been in your same situation and finally make that appointment to talk to your doctor.