Many of us have bought into sexual mythology—particularly when it comes to penetrative sex and the popular idea of lasting for hours and going all night.
But the average desirable sex session probably lasts a shorter amount of time than you think.
Studies have found that the average “desirable” duration of penetration is 7–13 minutes. Several factors can make sex shorter or longer than you’d like, including age or sexual dysfunction such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation. There are several things you can try to make sex last as long as you and your partner want.
How long should sex last?
The short answer: However long you and your partner want it to. But a scientific inquiry on the subject suggests somewhere between three and 13 minutes. We’ll break it down below.
In a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers asked a group of sex therapists how long sex should last (specifically, penetrative vaginal sex). The results: 1–2 minutes was judged “too short,” while 10–30 minutes was deemed “too long.” On the other hand, 3–7 minutes was rated “adequate,” and 7–13 minutes “desirable”
The average duration of sex
Wondering how long sex actually lasts in the wild?
How long sex should last” depends on how you define sex.
Research by Waldinger, 2005 asked 500 couples to press a stopwatch at penetration and then at ejaculation for one month. The reported duration ranged from 33 seconds to 44 minutes. But the average for vaginal sex was 3–7 minutes.
Factors that may affect the duration of sex
While sex will last different amounts of time for everyone, certain things can impact how long you last.
As men get older, some find they take longer to get an erection, and erections are longer to maintain. Conversely, younger men might ejaculate sooner than they’d like (although that can happen at any age).
- Sexual dysfunction
In some cases, sexual dysfunction can impact how long you last. Specifically:
- Erectile dysfunction (ED): ED happens when a man has trouble getting or keeping an erection, which can affect how long sex lasts
- Premature ejaculation (PE): PE is a sexual dysfunction in which a man ejaculates sooner than he or his partner would like.
- Performance anxiety: This is when negative feelings about your sexuality cause you to worry that you won’t satisfy your sexual partner. It can lead to ED or PE, or avoidance of sex altogether.
How to have sex
Communicate with your partner if sex is lasting longer than you want. Talking things out is always a good place to start when something about your sex life is less than ideal. We realize that sometimes that’s easier said than done. But remember, your partner wants you to enjoy the experience too—that’s what it’s about.
Show (or tell) them what turns you on. You can touch yourself in ways that help you climax, or you can tell your partner how to stimulate you in ways you especially like. Sex toys can be a good visual aid here.
Try a favorite position that makes you orgasm. Is there a sexual position or technique that tends to help get you there? Trying that can be a good way to wrap things up to everyone’s satisfaction if the experience lasts longer than you’d like.