How Long is Sex Supposed to Last? - ONE®

How Long is Sex Supposed to Last?

 Image of two animated people cuddling in bed on a dark purple background

You just finished having a great sexual experience – what’s the first thing you do? A lot of people sip some water, dry off or clean up. But are you one of the many people who looks at the nearest cell phone or clock to see how long your sex session lasted?

Whether it’s your favorite musical artist singing about “going all night” or a punchline from a comedy you watched recently, we are surrounded by conversations about sexual experiences and how long they should take. You might be wondering if you are lasting too short, too long or just right, which is totally understandable!

So, we’re tackling the topic today: how long does sex last and is there a magic number or minute milestone? Let’s find out!

antimated image of multiple people in a bed togetherCrunching the Numbers

There is still much more research to be done on this topic, mostly because it can be a bit complicated to measure. For example, what constitutes a sexual experience – should oral sex, vaginal sex and anal sex all be considered? Furthermore, one cannot necessarily prove exactly when an orgasm happens without a certain level of self reporting, or direct in-person observation.

With those thoughts in mind, here are a few studies that have researched how long sex lasts:

  • One 2005 study from a university in the Netherlands completed an international survey of couples (500 heterosexual couples to be exact) from across Europe and US. Using a stopwatch, they asked couples to measure the amount of time that elapsed between penetration and when the male partner reached orgasm across a four week time period (again, strictly during sexual intercourse). After some analysis, they determined that the median “intravaginal ejaculation latency time” (or IELT) was about 5.4 minutes.
  • Another study by the Society for Sex Therapy and Research and published by the Journey for Sexual Medicine surveyed their members to determine the average length of vaginal sex, as well as the ideal numbers. The results: vaginal sex lasting 1 to 2 minutes was considered too short, 10 to 30 minutes was too long and about 7-13 minutes was “desirable.”

How long should sex last? Well, there you have it – those are some potential answers based on available research. But before you dust off your stopwatch and start conducting your own research to see whether you measure up, it is important to remember that when it comes to sexual experiences it is truly a “choose your own adventure.”

The length of a sexual encounter can be impacted by several factors, from what type of sex is occuring (mind you, all these studies were based on penovaginal sexual intercourse) and the goals of the encounter for you and your partner(s). There are also some biological factors that can’t always be controlled, like age, hormone levels and your sexual health (millions of people experience premature or delayed orgasm or ejaculation).

 The Long and Short of It: Tips and Tricks

Are you and/or your partner(s) looking to adjust the length of your sex sessions? There are some cool methods you can explore for your sex to last longer or shorter, from physical to chemical. Not all of these can be applied to every sexual experience, but here are some tips and trips:

animated image of a couple in bed together on a turquoise background


   1. Semans’ Stop-Start Technique

Yes, the name does look remarkably like semen, which might seem a little counter-intuitive, but this is more commonly known as “edging.” Basically, as you can feel orgasm or ejaculation approaching, take a break. Once the feeling of being right there on the edge subsides, go ahead and get back to it. Repeat as many times as you like, until you feel you’re ready to climax.

   2. Johnsons’ and Masters’ Squeeze Technique

This process is a little simpler and gets right to the point! Well, technically, to the tip. As you or your partner(s) approach orgasm, gently squeeze the end of the penis and count to 5 (or 10) seconds until the impending orgasm has subsided and the coast is clear.

Try placing your thumb on the underside of the penis where the head (or glans) of the penis meets the shaft, with a finger or two on top (the way you might hold a TV remote or car keys). By pinching the head of the penis, you will close or constrict the opening of the urethra and hopefully delay orgasm.

   3. Masturbation

No, this isn’t a typo! Masturbating before a sexual encounter can be a sort of warm up or pre-party for the main event. If you find that you are orgasming or ejaculating quicker than you’d like to during sex with partner(s), you might be able to naturally last longer by working through a solo session an hour or two before sex. Don’t believe us? Try it for yourself!

   4. Kegel Exercises

Surprisingly, this doesn’t involve any cardio or weight training, so no need to try this at your local gym. Surely you’re familiar with the almost clenching feeling when you need to pee and you have to hold it – those muscles also play a role in ejaculation! They’re part of a muscle group called your “pelvic floor” and by contracting and relaxing them repeatedly on a regular basis, you can gain greater control of your orgasms.

   5. Thicker Condoms and More Lube

Every body is different and sometimes stimulation through sex can be super intense (maybe even too intense). In this case, it can help to add a layer between you and your partner(s) to make sure you’re pacing yourself. Thin condoms can be great, but they’re not for everyone – consider a different condom thickness, there are lots out there! And by adding more lube, you can reduce the amount of friction you’re feeling and potentially delay orgasm with a slippery and smooth swagger. Check out our selection of condoms and lube here!

   6. Numbing Creams and Sprays

If you’re finding that some of the above methods aren’t working for you, you might consider using a numbing cream or spray. Now, numbness isn’t a sensation most people think of during a pleasurable sexual experience, and by no means are these products designed to make you entirely numb.

What they can do however is reduce the amount of sensation (or overstimulation) with a small percentage of benzocaine, which is a common topical anesthetic. Just make sure you read the safety information carefully (less is more in most cases) and that any product you use is compatible with the condoms that you’re using.

   7. Consult a Professional

Sex therapists and medical professionals can be a great resource to talk through any concerns about the timing of your orgasms or ejaculation. For example, they may be able to discuss other potential factors that might affect how long sex lasts for you. They also can prescribe medications that may delay orgasm such as antidepressants, analgesics or phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors.

Make sure not to take any medications that are not prescribed to you by a medical professional, as these may have dangerous side effects that will need to be discussed in advance.


   1. Masturbation, Stimulation and Communication

Again, not a typo! Nobody knows what feels pleasurable better than you. If you find that your sexual experiences are lasting longer than you’d like, you can always focus on yours truly and reach orgasm on your own timeline.

If you’re having sex with partner(s), you can also give your partner the assist by stimulating your erogenous zones that they may not know about. Or maybe you want them to know – don’t be afraid to speak up and speed things up, by telling your partner(s) exactly what you like and want!

   2. Alternative Positions

Do you have a favorite position that you know does the trick every time? Whether you’re solo or sharing a sexual experience, by defaulting to this secret weapon position, you can also expedite your orgasm. Tried and true!



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