How Long Should Sex Actually Last?
A lot of couples, and particularly a lot of the men, stress during sex about potentially ending the party early.
You may think the best sex involves endless hours of passion. But perspectives from real people indicate a majority of couples aren’t having sex for as long as you might think.
How do you define sex?
Some people consider sex as the entire act, from the initiation of closeness (kissing, caressing) to the, ideally, orgasmic end. Some hetero couples might define sex as just the penetration of the vagina. Other couples might include oral and anal. A 2016 study found that the definition of sex differed depending on the respondent’s sexual orientation.
Immediately, it’s clear there’s no agreed-upon definition. Keep that in mind if you find yourself comparing yourself to other couples or to anecdotes.
The average vs. the ideal
One study from the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that sex therapists believe the normal duration of sex (using the heteronormative penis-in-vagina definition) is three to 13 minutes. While that sounds like a short amount of time, that doesn’t consider what comes before and after penetration. Three years later, the same researchers reported that normal for most couples was seven to 15 minutes, so there is clearly a wide range.
In the same study, the majority of women considered vaginal penetration that lasts one to three minutes too short, and 10 to more than 30 minutes too long. But for sex beyond vaginal penetration? There’s no great data. It’s really about discovering what works for you and your partner.
How long should a sex session last?
As the above information makes clear, there is no right or wrong answer, as long as you (and any partners) are enjoying each other.
Ask yourself if you are happy with the duration of your sex. Do you feel you have enough time to be passionate, to get aroused, to enjoy the act and to orgasm? Does your partner feel the same? If you don’t know, ask. The best sex should include both verbal and nonverbal communication.
Many factors can make it tricky to control the duration of sex. Typically, older adults take longer to get aroused. Aging can also cause problems with a man’s ability to maintain an erection, and can cause vaginal dryness in women. Combat these obstacles with lubricant, sex toys and even prescription medicine.
For younger guys concerned about climaxing too quickly, try ejaculating earlier in the day, and change positions during sex to cool you down when you feel you’re getting close. Doggy-style and adjusted missionary may result in faster orgasm for men, while cowgirl and the side-winder give the woman more control and may slow things down.
Women are generally more concerned about taking too long to orgasm, or not being able to orgasm at all. Communicate this to your partner and come up with solutions together. Experiment with specific positions that make it easier to climax, such as being on top, doggy-style, sideways straddle, bridge and, particularly, the coital alignment technique. You can also include toys, such as a clitoral vibrator, to help speed things up.
Most folks would agree, sex of any length is better than no sex. Talk to your partner to set expectations and goals. In the end, sex is meant to be pleasurable. Don’t stress too much about how long it is, or isn’t, lasting. Remember, sometimes it’s the journey that’s most important, rather than the destination.