How Long Should Sex Last? Is Longer Really Better?

All sexual activity is different, and the length of sexual experiences will vary depending on activity. But how long should sex really last? Read on and find out.

Published Jan 10 2022 6 min read

All sexual activity is different, and the length of sexual experiences may vary as well. Sometimes, we are up all night trying almost every sex position possible, while other times, we want “quickies”. But how long should sex last? Is longer better for your sex life? Read on to find out. 

What is the Average Duration of Sex According to Research?

Is there a perfect length of time you should be having sex? In 2005, a group of sex therapists and experts were tasked with figuring out the “normal” or adequate amount of time people should spend having sex.

The experts concluded that sex that lasts: 

  • below three minutes is too short 

  • three to seven minutes is adequate 

  • seven to 14 minutes is desirable
  • 10 to 30 minutes is too long 

Note: Most studies of this nature have based their findings on intravaginal ejaculation latency time (IELT) or the time it takes a man to ejaculate during penetration. Meaning, sex is defined as penile-vaginal penetration. The timeline above may differ for same-sex intercourse and other types of sexual activities.

So, if the researchers have decided the adequate length of sex is informed by orgasm, how long does it take for men and women to orgasm? 

How long is the ideal amount of time to have sex?

How Long Does it Take to Have an Orgasm?

According to comprehensive research that involved women from 20 different countries found that it took women and people with vulvas on between 6 to 20 minutes to orgasm during penetrative sex, with an average of 14 minutes to reach orgasm. This timeline aligns with the “desirable” sex duration stated by the survey of sex therapists above. 
On the other hand, men or penis owners take an average of 5 to 7 minutes to reach climax and ejaculate. Each study adds the caveat that the range of time is wide and influenced by many factors. So, perhaps the ‘ideal’ duration of sex depends on who you ask.

So How Long is the Ideal Duration of Sex?

Despite all the data gathered, the ideal duration of sex depends on your personal preferences. Every relationship will be different. Some people enjoy long, passionate, sensual encounters, while others prefer to keep things fast, aggressive, and more intense. It will vary based on your definition of sex. Some people determine that the time spend having sex is adequate once both partners reached an orgasm, while others don’t require an orgasm every single time, and some people define sex as including foreplay too.  
Remember that sex should be satisfying and fulfilling more than anything else. Focus on what works for you, instead of achieving a certain number, or accomplishment, so you can enjoy every moment of sexual activities and make the most of the experience.

Common Factors That Affect the Duration of Sex

Age is one factor that effects how long you spend having sex

There are several factors that may contribute to the duration of sexual intercourse. These include:

1. Age 

As people age, our biology changes. Due to these natural changes, men may take longer to experience arousal, and erections could become more challenging to maintain. Women experience similar hormonal changes like menopause, which may contribute to vaginal dryness, a decrease in libido, or both, which can affect how long sex activities last.

2. Life circumstances

The length of sexual intercourse may vary depending on certain life circumstances. For example, if a couple has a newborn baby, scheduling sex might be difficult, they may prefer 'quickies’ over longer sex sessions, and only use vibrators to celebrate special occasions like an anniversary. If you're a newlywed, you may want to take your time, spend hours exploring different positions, tantric sex, and use vibrators and sex toys for every occasion.

3. Overall health 

Some hormonal conditions (e.g., polycystic ovary syndrome) and mental illnesses (e.g., generalized anxiety disorder and clinical depression) may cause issues that can limit the amounts of time you spend during sex. For instance, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may contribute to pain during sex, which can make you less likely to want to have sex and have long sessions. On the other hand, anxiety may make it harder to become aroused or focus on sexual stimulation, which may increase time.

Several sexual dysfunctions, such as erectile dysfunction (ED) and premature ejaculation (PE), can also affect the length of your sexual activity.

4. Sexual orientation

Research has found that female same-sex couples reported longer durations of sexual activity than male same-sex couples and heterosexual couples.

5. Sexual practices, norms, and goals

Your sexual behavior, including time spent on sexual activities, may vary depending on culture and environment. Someone who was raised in a religious family might be abstaining from sex until marriage. The goals you’ve set with your partner can contribute to how sex is approached. If orgasm is the end goal of all sexual activity, then your timeline might be influenced depending on that.

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?

ED is a defined as the inability to achieve or keep an erection, which may have an impact on sex. ED can be caused by various health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, sleep disorders, too much stress, kidney disease, and hormonal imbalances, to name a few. If you are concerned, we recommend seeing a physician concerning ED.

What Causes Premature Ejaculation?

PE is a sexual dysfunction that happens when a man reaches his climax and releases semen sooner than expected or desired by his partner. Some factors that may lead to PE include stress, depression, poor body image or low self-esteem, anxiety, history of sexual abuse, and concerns or dissatisfaction in your relationship. Please see a doctor if you consistently experience PE.

How to Have a Satisfying Sex Regardless of Duration

How to Have a Satisfying Sex Regardless of Duration

Here are some tips that can help you have the best sex sessions of your life: 

Sex toys. For instance, using vibrators and cock rings can make things more exciting in the bedroom, especially when role-playing or exploring new positions with your partner.

Use lubricant. Lubricant is helpful even if you think you don’t need any. It can reduce friction and make sex more comfortable, especially for those who aren’t fully aroused or suffer from hormonal vaginal dryness.

Touch your partner. Whether you have enough time for cuddling and foreplay or not, touching your partner can help you release the love hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is one of the key components to mind-blowing orgasms.

Explore what works for you. Take time to discover which sex positions and techniques are most satisfying for you.

Fantasize and focus. One of the best ways to keep your mind in sex mode is by thinking about your sexual fantasies or, if you’re in the middle of sex, focusing on the pleasure you feel through your body. Connect with the sensations and your senses versus your thoughts.

While studies and research help us quantify things, when it comes to sex, what satisfies you is still what matters most. Only you can define how long your sex activities should last, based on your and your partner’s preferences.  

Have better sex