How Long Does Sex Last? [2022 Average Sex Duration Stats]

We looked at many studies to find out the average sex duration, how long sex lasts, tips on how to make sex last longer, and more. Here’s what we found:  

how long does sex last

Most people wonder at some point in their lives if they’re satisfying their partner in the bedroom. One of the biggest concerns (especially among men) is not lasting long enough.

Are women often disappointed in how long sex lasts? Should sex last all night long?

We took a look at a multitude of studies to find out how long sex lasts on average, how satisfying it is, how to make sex last longer, and more. Here’s what we found:  

Top Sex Duration Statistics You Should Know:

  • Most studies use what’s called intravaginal ejaculatory latency time (IELT) to determine how long sex lasts, which refers to the time it takes a person with a penis to ejaculate during vaginal penetration.
  • The median IELT is 5.4 minutes.
  • The median IELT decreased significantly with age, from 6.5 minutes in 18-30-year-olds to 4.3 minutes for those older than 51.
  • Circumcised men last longer, with IELT values of 6.7 minutes compared with 6.0 minutes in not-circumcised men.
  • 68.5% said using marijuana before/during sex made the experience more pleasurable.
  • Older men generally take longer to get erections and have a harder time maintaining them.
  • Lesbians have sex for much longer than most other couples.

Sex: Understanding Partnered Intercourse

Before diving into how long sex typically lasts, first, we have to cover how exactly most people define “sex” and how often it happens. Not everyone just thinks of penetration when they think of sex – most include other forms of sex like fingering or oral. 

  • People have many different definitions of sex. For example, some people only consider sex to entail penetrative intercourse, while others might consider sex to start with the beginning of foreplay and extend beyond each partner’s orgasm. (Medical News Today, 2022)1
  • Most of these studies use what’s called intravaginal ejaculatory latency time (IELT) to determine how long sex lasts.
    • IELT refers to the time it takes a person with a penis to ejaculate during vaginal penetration.
    • This may be achieved through touching, oral sex, vaginal sex, anal sex, or a combination.
      (Healthline, 2019)2
  • How often do Americans have sex?
    • Married Americans have sex an average of 1.2 times per week, or just about five times a month.
    • Couples who live together have sex 1.6 times per week (or about 6.5 times per month).
    • People who have not been married and are not living with a partner have sex much less often, just 0.6 times a week.
    • Unmarried people in a relationship have sex 1.1 times per week.
    • Adults who are not dating report having sex an average of 0.3 times per week.
      (How often do Americans have sex?, n.d.)3

International Surveys of Average Sex Duration

How long does sex last around the world? Here’s what studies have shown:

  • When women were asked, “How long would you like sex to last?”
    • Women said: 25 minutes and 51 seconds
    • Men gave a similar answer, 25 minutes and 43 seconds.
      (How long does sex last?, n.d.)4
  • Average sex duration by country:
    • United States of America: 17 minutes and 5 seconds
    • Canada:17 minutes.
      • Canadians were found to outperform everyone else up until the age of 28.
    • United Kingdom: 16 minutes and 58 seconds
      • The UK was considered the “best” in their early 30s and only “average” at the age of 20.
    • Australia: 16 minutes and 34 seconds
      • Australians aged 45 and above are the best performers in the world.
    • India: 15 minutes and 15 seconds.
      • By age 50, Indian people are very close to the rest of the world.
        (How long does sex last?, n.d.)4

Note: the stats in this study are based on male participants only.


How Long Does Sex Normally Last?

Sex can last anywhere from just a minute or two to upwards of 30 minutes, but when people were surveyed about how long they thought it should last, here’s what they had to say:

  • When sex therapists were asked about intravaginal ejaculatory latency (IELT) in minutes, here’s what they had to say:
    • Adequate” length for ejaculatory latency was from 3 to 7 minutes.
    • Desirable” sex lasted from 7 to 13 minutes.
    • Too short” ranges from 1 to 2 minutes.
    • Too long” ranges from 10 to 30 minutes.
      • (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2005)5

What Is the Average Duration of Sex?

So if “adequate” to “good” sex is between 3 and 13 minutes, how long do people actually have sex? Here’s what studies have shown:

  • An average of 19 minutes was reported by the sex toy retailer Lovehoney when they surveyed 4,400 heterosexual customers.
    • This consisted of an average of 10 minutes of foreplay and 9 minutes of penetrative intercourse.
    • 52% said they were happy with how long their sex lasted.
      • 23% of men and 19% of women said they wanted sex to last longer.
        (Here’s How Long Most People Last During Sex, 2018)6
  • The median IELT is 5.4 minutes (ranging from 0.55 to 44.1 minutes) in a 2005 study sampling 500 couples from 5 different countries.
  • Here’s how this data changed based on various factors:
    • Age:
      • The median IELT decreased significantly with age, from 6.5 minutes in 18-30-year-olds to 4.3 minutes for those older than 51.
    • By country:
      • The median IELT varied between countries, with the median value of people in Turkey being the lowest with an average IELT of 3.7 minutes (0.9-30.4 minutes), which was significantly lower than values from other countries studied (Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States).
    • Circumcised vs. Non-circumcised:
      • Circumcised men last longer, with IELT values of 6.7 minutes compared with 6.0 minutes in not-circumcised men.
        (National Library of Medicine, 2005)7
  • In a recent study conducted in 2020 focused on heterosexual women, the average was 13.41 minutes (Science Direct, 2020)8

Average Sex Duration in America

In another data set of Americans, the average duration of sex is much shorter than you might think. The longest average was New Mexico with just over 7 minutes, and the shortest was Alaska, where sex lasts just 1 minute 21 seconds!

Here’s a breakdown of how long sex lasts in all 50 states and D.C. in minutes: 

  • New Mexico – (7:01)
  • West Virginia – (5:38)
  • Idaho – (5:11)
  • South Carolina – (4:48)
  • Missouri – (4:22)
  • Michigan -(4:14)
  • Utah – (3:55)
  • Oregon – (3:51)
  • Nebraska – (3:47)
  •  Alabama – (3:38)

  • Delaware – (3:33)
  • Hawaii – (3:28)
  • Wisconsin – (3:22)
  • North Dakota – (3:18)
  • Arizona – (3:17)
  • Maryland – (3:15)
  • Mississippi – (3:10)
  • Rhode Island – (3:09)
  • Connecticut – (3:07)
  • Texas – (3:06)

  • New Hampshire – (3:04)
  • Wyoming – (3:03)
  • New York – (3:01)
  • Pennsylvania – (2:58)
  • Maine – (2:58)
  • Washington – (2:51)
  • Iowa – (2:50)
  • Illinois – (2:49)
  • North Carolina – (2:47)
  • Tennessee – (2:46)

  • Kansas – (2:38)
  • California – (2:38)
  • Massachusetts – (2:31)
  • Florida – (2:29)
  • New Jersey – (2:28)
  • Indiana – (2:26)
  • Virginia – (2:23)
  • Oklahoma – (2:21)
  • Colorado – (2:21)
  • Minnesota – (2:19)

  • Ohio – (2:18)
  • Louisiana – (2:17)
  • Kentucky – (2:14)
  • Arkansas – (2:08)
  • District of Columbia – (2:08)
  • Nevada – (2:07)
  • Georgia – (2:07)
  • Montana – (2:03)
  • Vermont – (1:48)
  • South Dakota – (1:30)
  • Alaska – (1:21)

(Which States Have the Longest (and Shortest) Sex in America? Check This Map, n.d.)9

Yet another reason to not move to Alaska…


Do Drugs Affect the Duration of Sex?

We don’t have data on every drug (yet), but some studies indicate that marijuana use may improve sex for couples:

  • 68.5% said using marijuana before/during sex made the experience more pleasurable.
    • 60.6% said it increased their sex drive.
    • 52.8% more satisfying orgasms.
      (National Library of Medicine, 2019)10
  • Women who used marijuana before sex were 2.13 times more likely to report satisfying orgasms than women who reported no marijuana use. (Science Direct, 2019)11

Does Masturbation Before Sex Affect Your Performance?

Should you avoid masturbating before having sex, or does it help you last longer? Here’s what studies have shown:

  • Men:
    • The male refractory period is the time it takes after an orgasm before they can orgasm again.
    • Younger men have a shorter refractory period:
      • In younger males, the refractory period is usually only a few minutes. However, older men may need 12–24 hours to recover. After this, they can achieve erections and have orgasms again.
    • Masturbating before sex may be beneficial for some males who experience early ejaculation.
  • Women: 
    • Masturbating before sex may help reduce tension and find release before sex.
    • In some cases, masturbating before sex may not be a good idea, as it may reduce how much a person wants to have sex.

(Medical News Today, 2019)12


Factors That Affect the Duration of Sex

Several factors impact how long sex lasts, including age, various sexual dysfunctions, and more:

Age

  • Older men generally take longer to get erections and have a harder time maintaining them.
    • Conversely, younger men may ejaculate sooner than they’d like (but this can happen at any age).
      (International Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine, 2021)13

Sexual Dysfunction

  • In some cases, sexual dysfunction can impact how long sex lasts. These include:
    • Erectile dysfunction (ED): ED is when a man has trouble getting or keeping an erection, which can also affect how long sex lasts.
    • Premature ejaculation (PE): PE is a sexual dysfunction where a man ejaculates sooner than he or his partner would like.
    • Performance anxiety: Performance anxiety results in negative feelings about sex and can cause people to worry that they won’t satisfy their sexual partner. Performance anxiety can lead to ED or PE or avoidance of sex altogether.
      (International Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine, 2021)13

Sexual orientation

  • Lesbians have sex for much longer than most other couples.
    • Female same-sex couples report a significantly longer duration of sex than men and women in mixed-sex or male same-sex relationships.
      (APA PsycNet, 2014)14

I knew there was a reason my lesbian friends never left the house!


Tactics for Shorter Sex

In need of a quickie before work or picking up the kids from school? Here’s your best bet: 

Touch yourself

  • Masturbation can be a great way to reach orgasm faster. You know your body best!  Some methods include:
    • Rubbing your clitoris
    • Gently pinching or pulling your nipples
    • Gyrating your hips
    • Smacking your behind

(Healthline, 2019)2


Tell your partner what you want

  • Communicating your desires to your partner can help you both understand what it takes to make each other orgasm.
  • Utilize what you learn to finish faster for mutually-gratifying short sex.

(Healthline, 2019)2


Try climax-inducing positions

  • If you’re aware of certain positions that feel better for you than others, shift as needed to get yourself there faster.
  • Sometimes positions that encourage deeper penetration or those that make it easier for you to pleasure yourself are a good choice.

(Healthline, 2019)2


Tactics for Longer Sex

Want your sex to last longer? Try these techniques to keep yourself in the zone: 

The “squeeze” technique

For men, when you’re having sex, continue until you feel almost ready to ejaculate. Then, have your partner squeeze the end of your penis where the head (glans) joins the shaft. Hold the squeeze for several seconds. The urge to ejaculate will retreat. You can do this several times in one session.

(International Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine, 2021)13


The “stop-start” method

This is also known as “edging,” which is something you can practice with a partner or as you masturbate. When you feel like you’re about to come, pause until the urge to ejaculate passes. When it passes, begin having sex or stimulating yourself again. Over time, you’ll recognize when you’re approaching “the point of no return” and be able to stop yourself from coming and extend intercourse.

(International Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine, 2021)13


Pelvic floor exercises/Kegels

Pelvic floor exercises (also known as Kegels) strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which control ejaculation. To identify your pelvic floor muscles, try to stop urination in midstream. To practice Kegels, tighten the pelvic floor muscles, hold for three seconds, then let go for three seconds and repeat. This control can help you improve your ability to control orgasms.

(International Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine, 2021)13


Numbing condoms or creams

Some condoms contain a numbing medication, such as lidocaine or benzocaine. This can reduce sensation, which might make you last longer.

(International Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine, 2021)13


Ways to Help Yourself to a Better Sex Life

Improving your sex life is about more than just lasting longer in bed. Great sex can be quick, too, if you know your partner well and have the experience. Here’s how you can improve your sex life, regardless of how long your sessions are:

Educate Yourself

Plenty of materials are available for every type of sexual issue. Browse the Internet or your local bookstore, find a few resources that apply to you, and use them to help you and your partner improve.

(Harvard Health Publishing, 2022)15


Give yourself time

Sexual responses slow down as you age. You and your partner can improve your sex by finding a quiet, comfortable, and interruption-free setting. In addition, physical changes in your body may mean you’ll need more time to get aroused and reach orgasm.

(Harvard Health Publishing, 2022)15


Use Lubrication

Sometimes, vaginal dryness that begins in perimenopause can be easily corrected with lubricating liquids and gels. Use these to avoid painful sex, which can snowball into lower libido and relationship tensions.

(Harvard Health Publishing, 2022)15


Maintain Physical Affection

Even if you’re tired, tense, or upset, kissing and cuddling are essential to maintaining an emotional and physical bond with your partner.

(Harvard Health Publishing, 2022)15


Write Down Your Fantasies

Writing down fantasies can help you explore possible activities that might be a turn-on for you or your partner. Try thinking of an experience or a movie that turned you on, and share it with your partner. This can be especially helpful for people with low sex drive.

(Harvard Health Publishing, 2022)15


Try To Relax

Try doing something soothing together before having sex, such as playing a game or going out for a nice dinner. Also, consider relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises or yoga.

(Harvard Health Publishing, 2022)15


Use A Vibrator

Vibrators can help women learn about their sexual responses and allow them to show their partners what they like.

(Harvard Health Publishing, 2022)15


Don’t Give Up

Even if none of your efforts seem to help, don’t give up hope. Doctors can often determine the root cause of your sexual challenge and may be able to identify effective treatments.

(Harvard Health Publishing, 2022)15


Conclusion

Sex means many things to many people and can last anywhere from under a minute to over an hour. But for most, it seems like it lasts between 10 and 15 minutes, and that can be enough to satisfy most partners. If you’re not happy with your sex life, try a few of these techniques and see what you can do to improve!

Footnotes

  1. Medical News Today, 2022. Sex: How long does it last?. An article on the average duration of partnered sex.
  2. Healthline, 2019. How Long Should Sex Really Last?
  3. How often do Americans have sex?, n.d. An article about Americans’ sexual habits of other people.
  4. How long does sex last?, n.d. A survey conducted by Saucy Dates on 3,836 people from 5 different countries (USA, India, Australia, Canada, and UK)
  5. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2005. Canadian and American Sex Therapists’ Perceptions of Normal and Abnormal Ejaculatory Latencies: How Long Should Intercourse Last?
  6. Here’s How Long Most People Last During Sex, 2018. An article on average sex duration.
  7. National Library of Medicine, 2005. A multinational population survey of intravaginal ejaculation latency time
  8. Science Direct, 2020. Time to Orgasm in Women in a Monogamous Stable Heterosexual Relationship
  9. Which States Have the Longest (and Shortest) Sex in America? Check This Map, n.d. Data collected by Spreadsheets and compiled by the sex website Nerve.
  10. National Library of Medicine, 2019. The Relationship between Marijuana Use Prior to Sex and Sexual Function in Women
  11. Science Direct, 2019. The Relationship between Marijuana Use Prior to Sex and Sexual Function in Women.
  12. Medical News Today, 2019. What to know about masturbating before sex
  13. International Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine, 2021. How long should sex last? Is longer better?
  14. APA PsycNet, 2014. A study of 822 participants reporting both length of sexual encounters and frequency of sexual activity.
  15. Harvard Health Publishing, 2022. 11 ways to help yourself to a better sex life
Dainis Graveris

Dainis Graveris

Over last 4 years Dainis have helped millions of people through his advice on this site (200+ guides and 1M+ visits/monthly). His work & advice has appeared on sites like: Healthline, Vice, Cosmopolitan, Men's Health, WomensHealthMag, MindBodyGreen & more. Read More

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