Sex: How Long Does It Last on Average?

A lot of people believe that sex should last for hours, and they become disappointed when their naughty encounter ends in a few short moments. However, it seems that there’s no need to be so downcast since scientists have proven that sex, on average, lasts for just a few minutes. In fact, a couple of studies have shown that lasting 5 to 6 minutes is totally normal!

What Is Sex?

average sex duration

The studies, which were published in the Journal of Sex Medicine, focused on “intravaginal ejaculatory latency time” or IELT. This covers the time when the penis enters the vagina up to the time when the man ejaculates.

Many people balk at this since sex is so much more than penile penetration of the vagina, particularly for women who need large amounts of foreplay time to get aroused. But the scientists’ method is understandable since IELT is one of the few parts of sex that is easy to measure; it’s not exactly easy or practical to start the countdown from the moment you kiss your partner.

Facts and Statistics

The first study recruited 500 subjects from Spain, Turkey, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The subjects were men aged 18 years old and above and in a stable heterosexual relationship with regular sexual intercourse. They measured their IELTs during a four-week period by using a stopwatch.

The study came up with interesting results. Based on the measurements submitted by the subjects, the shortest IELT lasted only 33 seconds while the longest was 44 minutes. The median (or average) IELT was 5.4 minutes.

These can mean two things: firstly, the Hollywood fantasy of having sex throughout the night was merely that — a fantasy. The average couple spends around 5 to 6 minutes per IELT (though, of course, they can have multiple IELTs per session if they want). So, if you and your partner don’t go beyond 10 minutes in your IELT, there’s no need to worry since it’s just normal.

Secondly, there’s really no “right” or “wrong” way to have sex. As mentioned above, some couples last less than a minute in their IELT, while others last almost an hour. It’s an individual preference, and you shouldn’t pressure yourself to last as others do. Whatever floats your boat works, as long as you and your partner are content.

Other Variables

Aside from the range and median length of IELT, the study focused on other factors as well. It found out that IELT decreased as the age of the subjects increased; those who were aged 18 to 30 years old lasted 6.5 minutes, while those who were aged 51 years old and above lasted only 4.3 minutes.

Based on the study’s results, condom use did not affect the length of IELT. Circumcision also played a small role; excluding those who lived in Turkey, circumcised men had an average IELT of 6.7 minutes while uncircumcised men had an average of 6 minutes. There were significant variations between countries, though; men in Turkey had considerably shorter IELTs (3.7 minutes) than those who lived in the other four countries.

Stopwatch vs. Blinded Timer Device

As mentioned above, subjects in the first study used stopwatches to measure the amount of time they spent on each IELT. The researchers thought that the act of turning the stopwatch on and off may have interfered with the natural progression of having sex, so they did a second study wherein they had the subjects use a blinded timer device to measure their IELT. This way, the men had a more spontaneous intercourse and less biased experience, and the act of measuring time would not interfere with the results of the study.

The second study, which was published four years after the first, showed similar results as its predecessor. The median IELT of the subjects was 5.7 minutes, which is pretty close to the 5.4-minute median of the first study. The range of IELTs was more varied, though; some of the subjects lasted only for 6 seconds, while others lasted around 52 minutes.

In this study, condom use and circumcision did not affect the subjects’ IELT. Like the previous study, there was a considerable difference between countries. Turkish men continued to have the shortest average IELT at 4.4 minutes, while British men took the top spot with a median IELT of 10 minutes.

Hours of Fun?

The second study proved again that sex, on average, doesn’t last for hours (unlike what porn movies want people to believe). The normal couple has sex for around six minutes, although there are some outliers who enjoy shorter or longer naughty times.

These results are backed by a separate study made by different authors. The study interviewed sex therapists in Canada and the U.S., who pointed out that an intercourse lasting 7 to 13 minutes is “desirable”, although 3 to 7 minutes is already adequate. According to these therapists, sex that lasts for 10 to 30 minutes (the time range that many people aspire to) is “too long”.

Final Note

Society’s expectation of hours-long sexual activity is not feasible and realistic. The average intercourse lasts for 5 to 6 minutes, so if you fall somewhere around that time range, you’re already doing well.


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