In the 1999 classic American Pie, Jim Levenstein blew it on the behalf of sex-starved teenage boys across the world. Stressed out by the prospect of getting it on with Nadia, the hot exchange student, he ejaculated before anything happened between them — twice — inducing even more anxiety. Jim’s premature ejaculation may seem like a simple case of cause and effect, but Finnish scientists aren’t so sure his situation applies to all men: According to their research, anxiety might not actually be ejaculation’s trigger.

In a study they published in the Journal of Sex and Relationships, the researchers report that their large, longitudinal study failed to find any evidence for long-term casual associations between premature ejaculation and anxiety. The study’s corresponding author, Åbo Akademi University psychologist Daniel Ventus, Ph.D., revealed to PsyPost the dilemma at the heart of the matter: “We do know that premature ejaculation is associated with, for example, anxiety, but we don’t know the direction of causality: are people anxious because they have a sexual difficulty, or do they have a sexual difficulty because they are anxious?”

In 2006 and 2012, the 985 male Finnish twins and brothers of twins that participated in a Genetics of Sexuality and Aggression study filled out questionnaires asking about their experiences with premature ejaculation and symptoms of anxiety, depression, and “sexual distress.” Studying twins allowed the researchers to evaluate factors involved with sexual behavior that were not genetic. Taking the data from the survey, Ventus and his colleagues applied mathematical modeling to try to uncover links between the alleged causes and effects of premature ejaculation. In particular, they were trying to find a link between general anxiety symptoms reported in 2006 and premature ejaculation that happened in 2012, hypothesizing that one might cause the other. But no matter how hard they tried, their attempts came up short.

The fact that they didn’t find evidence of a link between anxiety and “abbreviated stamina” isn’t proof that it doesn’t exist, but it does complicate our understanding of what actually causes it. In the study, the researchers point out that perhaps six years — the time between questionnaires — was too long to find any meaningful associations, and they suggest that future research should consider shorter time frames and different types of anxiety. This study only looked at generalized anxiety — the type a guy would have if he were nervous about sex (or other things) more broadly — but not, say, performance anxiety, which would happen on a much more immediate time scale. Despite these caveats, the researchers said their results were nevertheless “unexpected,” considering that many previous studies have suggested that anxiety is a very plausible predictor of future prejaculation.

Regardless of what the science shows, if you’re a guy with anxiety-inducing problems with premature ejaculation, take solace in the fact that you’re not alone: According to the Mayo Clinic, one in three men have experienced this problem, making it the most common sexual complaint among men. Besides, other research has suggested that focusing on delaying ejaculation could do more harm than good, sexually and psychologically, so perhaps it’s easiest to relax if you let events flow naturally. As Jim pointed out when he said “I’ve got reserves!” in bed with Nadia, blowing it once doesn’t mean you’ve blown it for good.