Bedroom Expectations: How Long Should Intercourse Last?

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Does sex last longer in our heads than in our beds?

I wondered this when I saw Dr. Hilda Hutcherson mention in passing on Good Morning America Health that for the average man, from beginning to ejaculation, intercourse lasts about 3-5 minutes. That didn’t seem very long to me – either I’ve been a lucky girl all my life, I thought, or many of us just perceive sex as going on longer.

Indeed we do, and there’s a reason.

When we think of sex we’re thinking of everything we do, “the hugging, kissing, massaging, stroking, rubbing, oral sex,” whatever, everything else that was involved in the sex act,” not just intercourse, Dr. Hilda said in a phone interview (she’s as approachable in real life as she is on TV, by the way). So if someone says “Oh, we had sex for an hour,” they’re not talking actual, technical intercourse. “You would dry up and be ripped to shreds after an hour of intercourse!” You’re including all the play around it. But if you’re talking to your girlfriend and you say you had sex for some prolonged period of time, she might think “Well, mine’s not like that so something’s wrong,” Dr. Hilda says, “and that becomes pressure on people to make this last abnormal amount of time. And most people don’t time it! They don’t look at the clock and say ‘Okay, this is penetration…” she laughs, “but f you really do take  a timer and it’s going to go off in five minutes and you wait…five minutes is a long time! Think how many strokes in five minutes. It actually is a good amount of time.”

When she puts it that way the perspective changes completely. When our days fly by as fast as they do five minutes sounds like nothing. But in context, when we’re kissing, eye-gazing and exploring – and losing track of time (which can stand still when you’re in that sex haze) the number can seem pretty irrelevant.

Where that 3-5 minute number can become a problem for women, she says is that “The average woman’s going to take 12-15 minutes and there are some women who are going to be much faster and some who are going to be much slower, but when you compare 3-5 versus 12-15, that can be a major cause of a problem in women’s satisfaction if she’s depending on the actual act of intercourse to give her the ultimate pleasure.”

So while three to five minutes can seem just fine when you do a lot of other things with it “If you ever get to the point where there’s no foreplay you’ll realize how quick it is!” she says.

Just another reason why all the long kisses, foot massages and oral sex is so important. Who of us has never had an appetizer – or dessert – that we didn’t thrill to as much or more than the main course?

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