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I’m a sexual health expert… and here’s what science has discovered about how long men REALLY last in bed

I’m a sexual health expert… and here’s what science has discovered about how long men REALLY last in bed

It’s so often the subject of boasts… or cruel jokes: how long a man ‘lasts’ in bed.  

If it’s all over to quickly, the other party can end up dissatisfied. But equally, going on for too long can become something of a chore. 

To try to end the debate on just what IS the normal amount of time, science has been hard at work coming up with some definitive answers. 

One recent study suggested men in the UK last for about seven minutes, on average, before ejaculating, while others suggest 10 minutes was the norm.

But if sex is over sooner, or later, it isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, says Dr Richard Viney, a consultant urological surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

One study suggested men in the UK last for about seven minutes before ejaculating, while others suggest most men take about 10 minutes on average

Speaking to MailOnline, he said: ‘Terms like premature or delayed ejaculation are more of a social construct rather than a medical one.’

Although he admits there are some instances where extremely premature ejaculation may need intervention — medical textbooks suggest a persistent pattern of ejaculation before one minute of sexual activity, before a man wishes it — in most cases it’s just about ‘perceived norms’ and ‘ideal duration’. 

Three studies, all published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, used different methodologies and sample populations, yet their results reveal what is considered ‘normal’ when it comes to the duration of sex.

One 2023 study surveyed 1,660 men to find out how long it takes for men to ejaculate with the hope it will help diagnose those who have trouble reaching orgasm.

The sample mostly included heterosexual men from Hungry and a significant proportion from the US and other English-speaking countries.

The men, who were 39 years of age on average, were asked to estimate how long it took for them to ejaculate from start of stimulation to orgasm in partnered sex. 

It was rated on a nine point scale ranging from one minute to more than 25 minutes. 

Dr Viney admits there are some instances where premature ejaculation needs intervention but in most cases it’s just about ‘perceived norms’ and ‘ideal duration’

Researchers found men who took longer than 10 minutes to ejaculate were more likely to report significant ‘orgasmic difficulties’.

Another 2020 study published in the same journal revealed how long men typically last, but this time from the perspectives of both men and women. 

The participants were recruited from social media sites including Facebook and Reddit using advertising, which resulted in 1,065 respondents, consisting of 571 men and 494 women.

The main types of ejaculation problems

Ejaculation problems are common sexual problems in men. This includes premature and delayed ejaculation. 

If you have a persistent problem with ejaculation, visit your GP, who will discuss the problem with you and may examine you or refer you to a specialist. 

Premature ejaculation

This is where the male ejaculates sooner than he or his partner wishes. 

Occasional episodes are not a cause for concern but if it’s reoccurring there are treatments. 

It can be caused by prostate problems, thyroid problems or recreational drugs.

It can cause stress, depression and relationships problems.  

Delayed ejaculation

This can be experienced as a significant delay before ejaculation or as being unable to ejaculate at all. 

It can also be caused by psychological and physical factors.

Psychological factors include relationship problems, stress or depression. 

Physical causes include diabetes, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, surgery to the bladder or prostate and increasing age.

Source: NHS 

They were asked how long they believe most men last during penetrative sex, the duration they consider ideal, the time they think qualifies as premature ejaculation and how long they personally last during penetrative sex.

There were no significant differences in between the lengths estimated by men and women. 

Most participants estimated men last about five minutes, but admitted the ideal duration would be double that at about 10 minutes. 

Men and women also agreed on a median threshold of about 1.5 minutes for what is classed as premature ejaculation. 

However, men who reported premature ejaculation issues did estimate typical and ideal durations compared to men who did not. 

The results showed no significant differences between straight, gay, and bisexual men and the results were also similar across age groups.

But people who had more sexual partners estimated longer typical times.  

A study from 2005 also published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine involved asking 500 couples from a number of countries to time how long sex lasted using a stopwatch.

Overall 4,000 sexual events were timed and couples had sex on average eight times over four weeks. 

From start of penetration it took on average it took men 5.4 minutes to ejaculate. 

But times from 0.55 seconds to 44.1 minutes were recorded. 

The study did reveal that men in the United Kingdom most often lasted 7.6 minutes in the sack.

It also found that younger men aged 18 to 30 were slightly faster to finish, at 6.5 minutes, while men who were over 51 years were faster still, at 4.3 minutes.

But Dr Viney said interpreting studies in this area can be ‘problematic’. 

That’s because attempting to observe sexual intercourse will likely adversely affect the result, he explains. 

‘Trying to interpret and apply these results to real life people and their experiences then becomes challenging,’ Dr Viney said. 

While in most cases how long you last in bed is nothing to worry about, it could be an indicator of health. 

The NHS warns premature ejaculation could be a symptom of prostate problems, or a result of using recreational drugs. It can also cause stress and anxiety about your sexual performance.  

Dr Viney said interpreting studies in this area can be ‘problematic’. That’s because attempting to observe sexual intercourse will likely adversely affect the result (stock image)

While delayed ejaculation can be caused by diabetes, some antidepressants like SSRI’s and spinal cord injuries. 

Dr Viney said: ‘Ultimately, if a man feels he has issues with any aspect of this very sensitive but hugely important part of their lives they should consult a doctor. 

‘It’ll be unlikely that there is a serious underlying issue but there is a lot that can be done to address the symptoms and this work make the visit worthwhile.’

But Dr Viney explains their is no ‘one size fits all’ definition for how long a man should last in bed, but it’s important to pay attention to any sudden changes. 

He said: ‘For some women, 30 minutes of sex might be the dream but for others this would be a nightmare, due to pain, so there really isn’t a “one length of time fits all” definition for what duration is optimal.

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‘Premature ejaculation is not usually indicative of a significant underlying issue. 

‘The individual might feel it’s a bit ‘touch and go’ but it’s usually a learnt behavioural issue and there are things that can be done to improve matters. 

‘A fairly sudden change in ejaculatory behaviour would be worth investigating but generally, there would rarely be a significant underlying issue.’

Delayed ejaculation also isn’t always caused by a health condition and can have a number of causes, Dr Viney explains. 

‘Recent prior ejaculation can make an encore performance much harder and often difficult to achieve,’ he said. 

He added: ‘A lot of this is down to the different, competing parts of the autonomic nervous system which control erection and ejaculation. 

‘Ejaculation switches off the erection and firing that back up again can be a challenge after.’ 

Dr Viney explains that some medications can also change how long it takes for a man to ejaculate.  

He said: ‘Arousal is another significant component of the underlying ejaculatory process and anything that serves as a distraction can interfere with a man’s ability to reach climax and ejaculate. 

‘Certain medications can interfere with reaching climax, one group of which are drugs like Viagra that men ironically take to improve their erections. 

‘Some drug groups don’t interfere with climax but can lessen ejaculation such as tamsulosin, which men are prescribed to treat prostate symptoms.’

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