How long should sex last? Relationship and sex therapist answers frequent questions around sex
At one point or another, you've likely been curious about how long sex should last. Sure, we all do it — but sometimes it can be difficult to know what "the norm" is, or if there even is one!
To answer all your burning questions, Four Nine speaks to relationship and sex therapist, Domonique Hillam-Thompson.
How long should sex last on average?
Hillam-Thompson says: "It's dependent on the couple really. It should last for as long as each party is happy with.
"The only time I find it becomes a problem is if there's some kind of sexual dysfunction, or if one person isn't happy with the amount of time it's lasting for. Generally, the couples who complain about this would be experiencing something like premature ejaculation, or if one person is having trouble orgasming. This is when it can become an issue.
"But, the length of time sex should last is usually negotiated between each and every couple. I don't really think there is an average time that sex lasts because everyone is different."
How long do men typically last before ejaculating?
According to a study conducted by the NHS, which looked at 500 different couples from five different countries, the average time taken to ejaculate during intercourse was around 5-and-a-half minutes. But as the psychotherapist stresses, there's no definition of how long men should go before ejaculation.
"Every man is different, and it can depend on whether there's foreplay beforehand, how much foreplay there is, and whether there are any outside factors influencing them," she adds. "For example, if there's something they're dealing with emotionally, such as issues with a family member. It can also be caused by health issues, so, there's a huge, huge variety of things that can affect it."
How many rounds can a man go?
According to Hillam-Thompson, how many rounds a man can go varies from "several minutes, to hours and even day".
She adds: "This is largely age-dependent — as a younger man will typically be able to go more 'rounds', while an older man may not be able to as much.
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"Women, on the other hand, do not have a refractory period. They can orgasm, and then build up again, and keep orgasming as many times as they like."
How to make sex last longer
For couples who are looking to make sex last longer, Hillam-Thompson recommends "stopping and starting" – or edging. "Foreplay can be added into this, so if you stop penetration, for example, and focus on each other — this can elongate the experience.
"Research shows that older couples have better quality intercourse," she continues. "They do actually have longer sex, it's shown, but this isn't necessarily anything to do with penetration. It can be a variety of things, but they likely engage in more foreplay.
"Another thing could be practising pelvic floor exercises. They can help with the hardness of the erection, ejaculatory control, and the intensity of the orgasm. These exercises can also increase the pressure you feel during sex, due to blood flow."
How often do women want sex?
Again, here, it depends on the woman in question.
Like with any gender, some women want lots of it, and others want less.
As the psychotherapist comments: "In my line of work, I see such a mixture. It's untrue that men want sex more than women, women want just as much sex as men. But, of course, everyone is different.
How often do men need sex?
"Men do not need sex a certain number of times," Hillam-Thompson stresses, adding that it's down to the individual in regards to how many times they feel like they "need" to engage in intercourse.
"As a sex therapist, I sometimes put a ban on sex, which can last a minimum of three months," she continues. "Men don't need sex – they might want it, or desire it, but they don't need it."