How Long Should Sex Last?
In research studies most people report that sex lasts between seven and 13 minutes. But the question “how long should sex last?” can only be answered with another question “how long do you want sex to last?” because only you and your partner can decide what is best for you.
That answer probably changes based on your mood, your energy level, and what else you have going on. If you have an early morning meeting or you’re worried that the kids might wake up and interrupt you, a quickie might be the best way to go. A rainy Saturday afternoon with nothing to do, on the other hand, might call for something far more involved.
How Long Does Sex Usually Last?
Research suggests that intercourse usually lasts a little bit more than five minutes, but there’s a lot of variety in what people do which means there’s a lot of variety in how long it takes to do it.
One study asked 500 heterosexual couples to time their intercourse—literally to press a button on a stopwatch when the penis penetrated the vagina and hit stop when the man ejaculated. The range was huge—from 33 seconds to 44 minutes—but the average was about 5 minutes and 24 seconds.
Part of the issue with timing sex is that we all define it a little differently. That study only looked at intercourse and ended when the man ejaculated. If his partner hadn’t climaxed yet, they hopefully kept going off the clock for her satisfaction. And it’s not usually best to dive right in; foreplay is important.
Most of the time, the sexual experience as a whole lasts longer than just the time between penetration and ejaculation, and that varies from couple to couple and event to event.
How Long Do Women Want Sex to Last?
Each woman is different and needs to decide this for herself. We do know it takes women an average of 13 minutes to orgasm, so the experience should probably last longer than that, but it does not have to be penis-in-vagina the whole time.
Movies and porn would have us believe that a full night of thrusting is what all women want, but that’s really not true. In fact, for some women, penetration can become irritating if it goes on for too long.
It’s also important to remember that most women do not orgasm from vaginal penetration alone. You have to pay some attention to her clitoris whether that’s before, after, or during intercourse.
Tips for Making Sex Last Longer
If you and your partner agree that sex is going by too quickly, try these steps:
- Block out time. You’re not going to have an enjoyable marathon sex session if one and/or both of you feels like you should be at work or doing the laundry. It might not seem romantic, but scheduling sex can make sure you have enough time to do it right. Plus, it will give you something to look forward to every time you check your calendar.
- Set a slow pace. Get yourselves in the mood to take things slow with some candles, soft music, and a good glass of wine. Maybe start with a bubble bath or give each other massages to stretch things out before you even take off your underwear.
- Focus on foreplay. Sometimes we’re too goal oriented in sex. It’s not just about the orgasms, it’s how you get there. Take your time to explore each other’s bodies. Ask each other what feels good and do that for a little while before moving on to intercourse.
Keep it going. Orgasms don’t have to be the end of the show. Yes, both men and women have a refractory period—the time between orgasming and getting excited again—but it can be as short as a few minutes.
If you’re climaxing too soon and are most worried about making intercourse itself last longer, there are many things you can try, including the in2 patch which has been clinically proven to help extend intercourse. See this article for more detailed information about premature ejaculation and ideas for gaining control over ejaculation.
Tips for Making Sex Go Faster
It sounds mean to say that sometimes you just want to “get it over with,” but sometimes a quickie really is all that you have the time or energy for and that’s okay. Assuming that sex ends once both partners have orgasmed, here are a few things you can do to move things along:
- Set the pace. If you want quick, move fast. Go into sex with the attitude of someone who is hungry for your partner and can’t wait another second to do this (or them). The frenzy can increase the intensity of the moment which can lead to orgasms.
- Don't skip the foreplay. While it might seem like diving into the main event would cut down on overtime, skipping foreplay may have the opposite effect. If one or both of you is not turned on enough, a quick orgasm is far less likely.
- Add some buzz. Vibrators are often the key to faster orgasms, especially for people with vaginas. Use a sex toy with your partner before or during intercourse to get them even more turned on. If you’re worried about your female partner orgasming, try using a curved toy specially designed to hit her G-spot. Prostate stimulating toys might have the same effect on men.
- Rule out medical issues. If one partner is frequently taking a long time to orgasm, there might be an underlying problem. Erectile Dysfunction can add time to the start of sex because you’re waiting for the penis to be hard enough for penetration, and it can make it more difficult to climax. Other conditions and certain medications - like those for depression and anxiety - can also make orgasming more difficult for both men and women. Check with a health care provider if taking too long is a recurrent issue.
- Be honest. If you’re not up for a marathon sex session, let your partner know up front. If you’re worried that it might take you a long time to orgasm, tell them that. Mismatched expectations and anxiety can totally ruin the mood, so it’s important to get ahead of it.
Quality Over Quantity
Time is relative, and not in an Einstein General Theory kind of way. We’ve all been in meetings or on conference calls that are so boring we look at the clock every three minutes and wonder how it is possible that so little time has gone by. Hopefully, we’ve all also had a perfect night out with friends where hours went by in the blink of an eye and everyone stays out way past bedtime.
The goal is good sex that satisfies both of you. Think of it like food, there are a lot of ways to hit the spot; some days it’s take out eaten straight out of the carton, and others it’s a four-course meal at your favorite fancy restaurant. Both are delicious.
So put away the stopwatch and instead of focusing on the minutes, focus on each other.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical or professional advice, nor shall be considered, used, or relied upon as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult with your physician about any health-related condition, as well as risks and benefits of any treatment.