How Long Should Sex Really Last?
What’s the average duration?
Vaginal sex typically lasts three to seven minutes, according to a 2005 Society for Sex Therapy and Research member survey.
According to the survey, vaginal sex that lasts one to two minutes is “too short.” Vaginal sex that lasts 10 to 30 minutes is considered “too long.”
So how long should vaginal sex actually last? The sex therapists surveyed say that anywhere from 7 to 13 minutes is “desirable.”
It’s important to note that these figures only apply to penile-vaginal intercourse. They don’t account for things like foreplay, and they aren’t representative of other types of sex.
It primarily depends on how you define sex
Most studies of this nature are based on intravaginal ejaculatory latency time (IELT).
IELT refers to the time it takes a person with a penis to ejaculate during vaginal penetration.
But this isn’t how everyone defines sex. Many people consider the end of sex to be once all involved parties have climaxed.
This may be achieved through touching, oral sex, vaginal sex, anal sex — or a combination.
If intercourse is the only component in your definition of sex, then sex will likely only last a few minutes.
It’s also worth noting that using IELT as a baseline assumes that penile-vaginal intercourse is the standard.
Vaginal sex doesn’t always involve a partner who has a penis.
And although it’s possible to extrapolate these figures to penile-anal intercourse, vaginal and anal sex aren’t the same thing.
More research is needed to determine the average and desired duration for these encounters.
What you want out of an encounter is also important
Sex should be pleasurable over anything else, and this comes down to personal preference.
Some people want a long, sensual encounter, while others want something fast and aggressive.
The key is that you’re having satisfying sex as opposed to beating the clock.
All that said, you can’t fight biology
In some cases, underlying biological factors may affect how long your sexual activities last.
As you get older, you may find that:
- it takes longer to become aroused
- erections are more difficult to achieve and maintain
- hormonal changes contribute to things like vaginal dryness and decreased libido
The shape of your genitals may also be a factor.
Researchers in one 2003 study found that the shape of the penis — specifically the ridge around the head — may have evolved to be more competitive.
The ridge is able to displace any preexisting semen in the vagina. Deeper and more vigorous thrusting results in more semen displacement.
This allows the ejaculating partner to make room for their own semen, increasing their chance of reproduction.
Using competitive evolution as a backdrop, this could explain why some people find it painful to keep thrusting after ejaculation. Continuing to thrust may displace your own semen and decrease your chance to reproduce.
Premature ejaculation, for example, can cause you to climax faster than you may prefer.
People with delayed ejaculation may take longer to climax, if they’re able to at all.
If you want shorter encounters
If a quickie is all you want, these techniques may help you get there faster.
If you’re short on time, masturbation can be a great way to ensure that you achieve the Big O. After all, you know your body best!
If your partner is already touching you, explore a different area. You can:
- rub your clitoris
- gently pinch or pull your nipples
- gyrate your hips
- smack your behind
You can also enjoy mutual masturbation, in which you each pleasure yourselves.
This gives you both the opportunity to climax faster while still being intimate.
Tell your partner what you want
Communicating your desires to your partner — and vice versa — can help you both understand what it takes to make each other orgasm.
You can utilize what you learn to get to the finish line faster for mutually-gratifying quickies.
Try climax-inducing positions
If you know that certain positions feel better for you than others, shift as needed to get yourself there faster.
This can include positions that encourage deeper penetration or those that make it easier for you to manually pleasure yourself or your partner at the same time.
If you want longer encounters
If you want to prolong your sexploration, these techniques may help.
Semans’ stop-start technique
Also known as “edging,” this involves temporarily stopping all sexual stimulation when you feel like you’re close to ejaculation.
You and your partner can resume your activity once this feeling has passed.
Although this technique was originally founded to help a person who has a penis delay ejaculation, it can be used by anyone looking to prolong climax.
Johnsons’ and Masters’ squeeze technique
This technique entails gently squeezing the end of the penis for several seconds just before ejaculation until the urge subsides.
It can also be used to practice ejaculatory control.
The bottom line
The definition of what sex is, individual expectations, and mutual desires all influence how long sex may last.
If you’re concerned about how long you’re able to have sex, consider making an appointment with a doctor or other healthcare professional.
They can discuss how you’re feeling, answer any questions you have, and assess any underlying symptoms or other discomfort.