• Warning: explicit content
What's "too long" for men isn't long enough for women, according to a study. Lee Suckling outlines why this is so concerning.
If you've ever had a "quickie" with your partner, you'll know there's often just one goal: orgasm for at least one of you.
When you're short on time, a quick trip to the bedroom can be lust-filled or perfunctory. Whether or not the sex is "good" is debatable and unique to the experience, which leads me to wonder, how long should mutually-satisfactory sex generally take?
Researchers try to tackle this question all the time. A much-cited Canadian study from 2008 looked at heterosexual sex and found that the average "adequate" sex session was only three to seven minutes. One to two minutes was too short, and "desirable" was seven to 13 minutes. "Too long" was 10 to 30 minutes.
Curiously, this study focused on male ejaculation latency (ie. the time it takes for a man to ejaculate during sex), not female orgasm, to define when sex was over. To me, this represents the illogical notion that men's pleasure is what's important in defining "sex"; a hangover from an age where women were only seen as objects of sexual desire, perhaps.
Here's why this is so concerning. In a study of 645 straight women published last week in The Journal Of Sexual Medicine , the average woman takes 13 minutes and 25 seconds to achieve climax during sex. That's vastly more time than the "adequate" statistic would suggest, 25 seconds longer than "desirable", and spills over to the "too long" category. So I wonder, who is all this 3-13 minute sex actually satisfying? Just the guys?
Granted, not all women orgasm during sex (actually, one in six cannot) and many don't define it as necessary in good sex. In the same study, of the five of six women who can climax during intercourse, no woman could achieve orgasm in less than five minutes and 42 seconds, and some took over 21 minutes.
Why 10-30 minutes can be defined as "too long" therefore stumps me. Too long for whom – the men? And if so, maybe we males need to change the way we approach sex altogether.
The most important goal to set with your partner this year
I believe the goal of sex is to fully satisfy your partner first. Your own satisfaction should be secondary. For straight couples, the average man will ejaculate in six minutes but the average woman takes more than 13. That means there are seven-odd minutes guys generally need to delay their orgasms by.
How is this possible? With mental training. Men teach themselves to ejaculate through masturbation at a young age; the result is normally a "get in and get out" mentality to sexual satisfaction. As men grow up, we can learn to delay our orgasms.
This can be done through slowing down, distracting yourself for a moment with non-sexual thoughts, or what's known as "edging": the stop-start technique of sex used to delay climax by drawing out pleasure. It sounds easier than it is. It involves time, practice, and commitment.
Sadly, I can't add any data from same-sex couples in here, because nobody has ever researched how long LGBT+ people have sex for. Anecdotally, from my own experience and that of my friends, it would seem we have sex a bit longer than the heterosexual statistics suggest – however, I should note, there's scientific evidence to suggest gay men in relationships have the same ejaculatory issues as straight men.
As such, I think we could probably ALL benefit from this idea that you should try to help your partner first. Who cares how many minutes it takes? Let's think about the resulting experience: if both parties are trying this at the same time, it seems only logical that you'll both be having "good sex" of the mutually-agreeable kind.