What is The Average Sex Time?
How long should sex last? In an ideal world, as long as you and your partner want it. But what’s the average sex time? One international study timed the intercourse duration of 500 couples on a four week period1. This study is, up to date, the most extensive research about sex duration. The reported median sex time for all age group is about 5.4 minutes. That means that 50% of men ejaculate quicker than 5.4 minutes. The other 50% last longer.
Based on the ISSM premature ejaculation definition, a man who always come under 1 minute suffer from lifelong premature ejaculation. A man who lasts longer than a minute do not suffer from lifelong PE, but he may suffer from other types of premature ejaculation.
This study also tells us that younger man tends to last longer with a median of 6.5 minutes for the 18-30 years group. The 51-year-old group median is 4.3 minutes. Among other interesting findings, the survey also tells us that nor circumcision, nor condom usage affects sex duration.
Finally, the study’s authors point out that they are using the median instead of the mean as the primary measure because some man suffering from delayed ejaculation could last several hours. Statistically speaking, those men are what we call outliners. They inflate the average sex time in a way that does not represent reality. That’s why the median is used instead of the mean. Still, if we use the geometric mean, we have results close to the median. Another similar study made on 473 men showed a geometric mean of 5.7 minutes. This result is concordant with the first study median2.
How is sex time calculated?
For those who are wondering how they calculate sex time, scientists use a measure called the IELT, or Intravaginal Ejaculation Latency Time. To measure the IELT, we ask the woman to activate a stopwatch as soon as vaginal penetration starts. She stops it right after ejaculation.
Of course, this measurement has a form of bias called the observer-expectancy effect. The fact that the couple knows that they are timed can interfere with the man’s ejaculation control. Some man can be stress and come quicker. Other may suffer from the opposite and take more time than usual. Still, the stopwatch IELT measure is the most practical way to measure sex time on a large scale study. One other study tried to replicate the study with a blinded timer device2. The median was slightly higher but still similar, with a 6 minutes result.
One of the limits of IELT is that it’s limited to heterosexuals in a relationship. For obvious reasons, this measure is not suitable for homosexual couples. Also, the studies that measure IELT just include stable couples. For example, the large-scale study cited below only enrolled people who were with the same partner for at least 6 months. So, the 5.4 minutes median isn’t indicative of the average sex time, but the average sex time of stable relationships. It’s easy to believe that if we take into account one-night stand, early relationships and other “sleeping around”, the average sex time may change.
- Waldinger M et al (2005) A multinational population survey of intravaginal ejaculation latency time. J Sex Med 2(4):292–297
Waldinger M et al (2009) A Five-nation Survey to Assess the Distribution of the Intravaginal Ejaculatory Latency Time among the General Male Population. J Sex Med. 2009 Oct;6(10):2888-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01392.x.