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This Is How Long Women Want Sex to Last

This Is How Long Women Want Sex to Last: © PhotoAlto sas / Alamy Stock Photo

© PhotoAlto sas / Alamy Stock Photo

How long does the typical guy last in bed? Five and a half to six minutes, according to studies in which heterosexual couples used stopwatches to record how long it took men to reach orgasm following penetration.

How does this stack up with women’s ideal sexual duration?

Here’s what the research says.

In a 2004 study published in the Journal of Sex Research 152 heterosexual couples were surveyed about how long they usually spend on both foreplay and sex, as well as the amount of time they think would be ideal to spend on each activity. The participants ranged in age from their early 20s to their mid-70s, and most were college educated and married with children.

Women estimated that, on average, intercourse typically lasts about seven minutes. This is a little higher than what the stopwatch studies found, but keep in mind that these women were asked for estimates, not precise measurements.

By contrast, women said that, ideally, they’d like sex to last about 14 minutes. In other words, they’d like to be having sex for about twice as long as usual.

The numbers for foreplay told a similar story: women said this takes about 11 minutes, and that closer to 19 would be ideal.

Men wanted sex and foreplay to last longer, too. Ideally, men said they’d like to see each activity last about 18 minutes. So it’s not just women who wish they were spending more time in the sack.

What accounts for this sizeable discrepancy between people’s sexual ideals and their sexual realities?

Both porn and the popular media give the impression that, when it comes to time spent on sex, longer is better. Thus, perhaps we’ve just been culturally conditioned to think that sex “should” last a lot longer than it really does.

Research has found that the women who report spending the most time on sex also report having the most consistent orgasms.

As some support for this idea, the researchers who led the 2004 study also asked participants what they think the “cultural script” is for how long sex should last. What they found was that people’s perceptions of the cultural ideal were very highly correlated with their own personal ideals.

In other words, we want sex to last longer, at least in part, because we’ve been led to think that it’s supposed to. This suggests that perhaps it would be helpful to rethink our sexual expectations a bit.

Do you want sex to last longer because it’s what you really want, or is it because you just want to keep up with the Joneses? If it’s the latter, then it’s probably not a very good reason to upend your sex life.

There is another important reason some people want sex to last longer, though, and this has to do with the fact that it’s widely thought to be a way of increasing female sexual pleasure.

There’s definitely something to this idea. Research has found that the women who report spending the most time on sex also report having the most consistent orgasms.

Interestingly, though, time spent on foreplay is unrelated to women’s orgasm consistency. That’s right—contrary to what many of you have probably heard, the female orgasm is more strongly related to time spent on sex than it is to time spent on foreplay.

As always, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s a ton of individual variability, and everyone has their own personal preferences when it comes to sex. While many people do want to spend longer on sex, others are perfectly happy with things just the way they are.

So, don’t assume you know what your partner wants. Instead, ask. Communicate.

And if increasing sexual duration turns out to be a mutually desired goal, check out this article to learn more about science-backed methods of increasing male sexual stamina.


Justin Lehmiller, PhD is a sex educator and researcher at Ball State University and author of the blog Sex and Psychology. Follow him on Twitter @JustinLehmiller.

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