If you’re a non-scientist, after disappointingly fast intercourse, you might have asked yourself once, stood up against the bedhead, how long does it last “normally?”


However, a scientist would almost obscurely answer the same question: What is the meaning of intravaginal ejaculation latency time?

I know intercourse is much more important than placing the penis in the vagina and ejaculating, but the rest is not always easy to define (kissing? rubbing? grinding?).

It is not a straightforward matter to measure an average time for ejaculation. What’s it like to ask people how long they’re going to take? Well, with this, there are two main issues. One is that in their calculations of time, people are likely to be biased upward because it is socially desirable to tell that you go into the night long.

The other issue is that people don’t necessarily know how long they’re going for. Intercourse is not something people normally do while watching the bedside clock, and it can be difficult to estimate unassisted time during a love-making session.

What does the study say?

In the general population, the best study we find measured the average time to ejaculate included 500 couples from around the world having intercourse over a four-week span – using a stopwatch.

That’s as literally uncomfortable as it sounds: at penile penetration, participants pressed “start” and “stop” at ejaculation. You may notice that this may somewhat affect the mood and may not reflect the natural flow of things exactly. Science though is rarely perfect, and this is the best they have.

So what was found by the researchers? The most surprising result is the vast amount of variation that happened. The average time ranged from 33 seconds to 44 minutes for each couple (that is, averaged over all the times they had intercourse). That’s a disparity of 80-fold.

There’s no “ordinary” amount of time to have intercourse it’s clear Nevertheless, the average (median, technically) was 5.4 minutes across all partners. It suggests that if you line up the 500 couples from the shortest to the longest intercourse, the middle pair will go every time they do it for an average of 5.4 minutes.

There have also been some significant secondary results. For example, condom usage did not seem to influence the time nor did it affect men’s circumcision or not, which challenges some conventional wisdom regarding penile sensitivity and its relationship to the staying power in the sack.

Which country the couples came from didn’t matter much–unless they came from Turkey, in which case their intercourse tended to be significantly shorter (3.7 minutes) than couples from other countries (the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the US). Another surprising result was that, unlike the prevailing wisdom (probably peddled by older men), the older the couple, the shorter the intercourse.

Why do we have sex for so long?

All this discussion about how long gender persists as an evolutionary scientist makes me wonder: why does it last any longer at all? All lovemaking really has to do with bringing semen into the uterus, it seems. Why all the bumping and thrusting? Instead of slipping the penis hundreds of times every sexual activity, why not just bring it in once, ejaculate, and then go have a lemonade and go on with the rest of the day?

Because it’s fun to go in and out before you say it! Evolution doesn’t care about fun per se–it usually only “designs” things to enjoy if they helped our ancestors pass their genes on to future generations. For instance, although we like eating food, for five minutes we don’t chew every mouthful of it just to make the pleasure last longer. That would be inefficient so we evolved to consider it disgusting.

How they last so long is a pretty complicated problem with no clear answer, but the way the penis is shaped may be an indicator. Researchers showed in 2003–utilizing artificial vaginas, artificial penises, and artificial semen (corn syrup)–that the ridge around the penis head was simply scooping out pre-existing vagina syrup.

What this implies is that the repeated thrusting of men that function to displace other men’s semen until they ejaculate, ensuring that their own swimmers have a better chance of first reaching the sperm. By the way, this could clarify why it is difficult for a person to attempt to move after ejaculating, as this would also risk scooping out his own semen.

So what to do with this information? My advice would be to try not to think about it during the throes of passion.

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