How Long Does Sex Really Last? The Answer Might Surprise You
How Long Does Sex Really Last? The Answer Might Surprise You
It’s not surprising that people want to know how long sex lasts.
When you get down to it, people want to know pretty much everything about sex: What different positions look like, how it feels, both physically and emotionally, what’s impressive, what’s disappointing, and on and on.
Sex has the power to make people feel incredibly intense emotions, so, of course, it’s an important part of many people’s lives. And because humans are social creatures, they’re forever comparing themselves to others — “Is my penis big enough?” “Does my labia look normal?” “Is it OK that this kinky fetish turns me on?” Being curious about how long sex is “supposed to” last is no different. It’s another way of knowing whether our experiences compare to other people’s.
But while much of this curiosity is perfectly healthy, it can also have a trickier aspect to it — namely, people worrying excessively about whether they “fit in” sexually, when the truth is that everyone is unique and there’s nothing especially desirable or important about being the same as the next person — or “better” than them.
The truth is, for every trait that’s supposedly “good” or “impressive” when it comes to sex, there are many, many people who prefer the opposite. The one universal constant seems to be that every person is looking for something slightly different — and even that doesn’t take into account the fact that people’s desires and preferences often change throughout their lives.
In short, worrying that you’re not “normal” in bed is a surefire path to wasting time and energy beating yourself up for nothing, and it’s no different when it comes to timing your sexual encounters. But in order to answer the question of how long sex lasts, AskMen spoke to an expert doctor and reviewed the stats that are out there. Here’s what we learned:
How Long Does Sex Last?
This may or may not surprise you, but the main reason it’s hard to know how long sex lasts is that it’s impossible to time almost all sex, and any sex you could measure the duration of (say, in a lab experiment) would probably be impacted by the fact that it was being measured.
And if you simply ask people, they might either lie or guess wrong. After all, in the heat of the moment, you’re not really thinking about how many seconds are elapsing — at least, not if you’re enjoying yourself.
That doesn’t mean people haven’t tried to come up with a number, however.
“Studies on the duration of intercourse have had varied results,” says Jed Kaminetsky, MD, board-certified urologist and medical advisor at Promescent. “It’s generally considered ‘average’ if penetrative sex lasts 5 to 7 minutes, but the overall range is wide.”
Various studies and polls indeed show average ranges around that figure, with this one showing durations as short as 33 seconds and as long as 44 minutes.
However, these inquiries typically assume that sex is something that begins at the moment of penetration and ends at the moment of ejaculation. In other words, they overlook forms of non-penetrative sex or foreplay like oral and manual stimulation, anything taking place between two or more people without penises, and people who go for multiple “rounds.”
Another issue with the 5-to-7-minute figure is that other studies have shown that women typically take much longer than 7 minutes on average to achieve orgasm during partnered sex, meaning they’re unlikely to get all the way there if their partner assumes the proceedings have concluded well before the 10-minute mark. This is a large — though not the only — contributor to the existence of the “orgasm gap.”
In any case, besides all the couples clustering around the 5-to-7-minute mark, the data shows that it’s also normal to fall well outside of it — in both directions.
“Both premature and delayed ejaculation can influence times outside of the normal distribution,” says Kaminetsky. ““The primary causes of premature ejaculation include; penile hypersensitivity, various psychological factors like anxiety, and some biological factors like abnormal hormone levels.”
“Delayed ejaculation (prolonged times to climax), on the other hand,” he says, “is not nearly as well understood, but thought to be caused primarily from lack of penile sensitivity and psychological factors.”
Why You Shouldn’t Worry About How Long You Last
While it can be frustrating to feel like you’re cumming too soon — or not soon enough — it’s important to remember that the wide range that these studies is proof that there is no single “normal.”
“Relying solely on such data can be misleading for individuals looking to understand their own sexual experiences,” says Kaminetsky. “People are unique, and factors like age, health, relationship dynamics, and personal expectations can greatly influence the duration of intercourse. Comparing oneself to an average might set unrealistic expectations or lead to undue pressure.”
Plus, he notes, it’s like not how long it takes you to ejaculate is an unchanging (or unchangeable) number. Like so many other aspects of the human experience, sex is fluid, not static.
“Some partners prefer longer penetrative sex, and to others it’s less important,” Kaminetsky points out. “Sometimes a ‘quickie’ is perfect. Plus, there are lots of ways to have sex, and sex doesn’t need to end after a man ejaculates.”
Finally, he notes, “It’s important to appreciate that the quality of the sexual experience isn’t solely determined by its duration. Intimacy, communication, mutual respect, and emotional connection often play a significant role in sexual satisfaction.”
Meaning, a passionate 2-minute romp followed by extended cuddling may feel a lot better to many people than 30 minutes of porn-style pumping without any emotional connection.
So if you’re genuinely worried that you’re not lasting long enough and are sick of feeling like you’re climaxing too fast, there are methods, techniques and products to help you last longer out there.
But you may also find it helpful to simply spend less time caring about how long you can last during penetrative sex and more time caring about having a meaningful sexual experience, whatever form that takes.
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