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Reproductive Health: How long should sex last

Many people would describe  sex as good, exciting, electrifying and refreshing, especially if done with consent and in a favourable atmosphere.


The benefits identified to be derivable from the exercise include improved immunity through the increase in the levels of immunoglobulin A; reduction of blood pressure;  a good form of exercise; reduces pain as well as brings about the release of feel good hormones; reduces stress and the likelihood of prostate cancer in men and improved bladder control in women.


Interestingly, the duration of the act may not really matter in determining whether the identified benefits would be derived from it or not, and according to experts, the duration does not even matter when it is done for procreation.

But findings have shown that longer sexual intercourse does not only boost a man’s ego, it helps him to enjoy the act the more. While for women, the longer the act, the more the likelihood of them reaching orgasm.

But the question is, How long should good sex last?

According to a study by two scientists, Eric Corty and Jenay Guardiani, from the Pennsylvania State University in the United States, good sex does not necessarily have to last for hours. In fact, they said it could last for minutes. In their post on sciencedaily.com, they noted that satisfactory sexual intercourse should actually be between three and 13 minutes.

The researchers involved 50 members of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research in the study, and these members include physicians, nurses, psychologists, marriage and family therapists and social workers who have attended to thousands of patients over several decades.

These participants categorised the time sex should last, according to experience, into four, namely too short, adequate, desirable and too long, and the measurement of the time starts from the penetration of the vagina to the actual ejaculation.

The experts categorised sexual intercourse that lasts between one and two minutes as “too short”. They said if it lasts between three to seven minutes, it is “adequate”, if it is between seven and 13 minutes, it is “desirable” while any romp in the sack that lasts between 10 and 30 minutes is deemed to be “too long.”

The researchers pointed out that people tend to judge their performance or that of their partner by the dictates from the society, and not what is okay for them.

They said, “A man’s or woman’s interpretation of his or her sexual functioning as well as the partner’s functioning relies on personal beliefs developed in part from society’s messages; formal and informal. Unfortunately, today’s popular culture has reinforced stereotypes about sexual activity. Many men and women seem to believe the fantasy model of large penises, rock-hard erections and all-night-long intercourse.”

Corty, who is an associate professor of psychology, said their survey would help to rekindle people’s confidence in themselves and trim down on their fantasies, noting that the situation at hand had made people to have unrealistic expectations.

He added, “This seems a situation ripe for disappointment and dissatisfaction. With this survey, we hope to dispel such fantasies and encourage men and women with realistic data about acceptable sexual intercourse, thus preventing sexual disappointments and dysfunctions.

“Also, if a patient is concerned about how long intercourse should last, these data can help shift the patient away from a concern about physical disorders and to be initially treated with counselling, instead of medicine.”

Meanwhile, another study by a psychologist, Dr. Brendan Zietsch, from the University of Queensland, Australia, sought to unravel how long penetrative sex should last. For the sake of avoiding complexities, he said given that there are many other activities that come before sex, like foreplay, the actual time of sex should also be when the man enters the woman. But, what did he arrive at?

About 500 heterosexual couples drawn from around the world participated in the study, and what he did was to give each of them stopwatch and he told them to press start at the time of penile penetration and they should press stop at ejaculation. He observed that even though using a stopwatch was not a perfect measure, it was better than asking people to state how long it took them as there would be biases.

He said, “I know there’s a lot more to sex than putting the penis into the vagina and ejaculating, but the rest is not always easy to define (kissing? Rubbing? Grinding?). To keep things simple and specific, we’ll just focus on the time to ejaculation.”

After the study that lasted one month, Zietsch was able to deduce from the data he collated that the range of the time people had sex was between 33 seconds and 44 minutes. He then pointed out that the average across all the participants was five minutes, four seconds.

He also observed that the use of condom, which according to some, reduces the sensitivity of the penis, did not make any difference, noting further that the age of the couples played a role as younger couples, aged between 18 and 30, lasted longer (six minutes, five seconds) than older couples, 51 years and above, who lasted for four minutes, three seconds.

Also, the participants recorded that in spite of the varying times their romp in the sack lasted, they were satisfied. Thus, Zietsch therefore noted that as far as sex is concerned, there is no standard or normal time that it should take as long as the parties were satisfied.

Commenting on the findings of the studies, a psychologist, Prof. Oni Fagboungbe, said it would be difficult and unrealistic to establish a certain time as the standard duration that sexual intercourse should last.

He said the goal of sex is for both partners to be satisfied, such that they would reach orgasm. He noted that regardless of the time it takes, as long as both parties are satisfied (ejaculation in the case of the man and orgasm in the case of the woman), the deed had been done.

He said, “The essence of sex is to make the persons involved to reach orgasm and enjoy it, but we are not the same, so we cannot actually put a time limit on when one should reach orgasm because it depends on individuals.

“Actually, it is the act of the man that makes the lady to reach orgasm, so a man must be able to locate the woman’s erogenous zone so as to assist her to reach orgasm. And since sex is an act, people can practise and learn it to be better in it and that is why some men use drug to delay the ejaculation.”

Speaking on the factors that could make the man not to be able to perform well to the extent of satisfying a woman, he said the factors responsible could be psychological or physiological, adding that the size of the penis also plays a prominent role in sexual enjoyment.

He said, “The ladies’ vagina has walls that are sensitive and responsive to touch. So, if the penis is too small, it is like wearing an oversized shoe, it won’t match, but if the penis is big enough and firm, it will be able to touch all the necessary areas, like the erogenous zones, especially the ones within the walls of the vagina.

“Likewise, the physiological factors have to do with the health of the organs responsible, for example the turgidity of the penis to be able to penetrate well and deep, and the state of health of the man. The psychological factors on the other hand include depression, tiredness, lack of concentration while the act is going on and the psychological acceptance between the parties is also key. Both parties have to be willing and prepared.”
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