It's part of human nature to compare ourselves with others, whether in our careers, social life, or romantic relationships. We can't help but wonder if our habits and desires are "normal," and that's especially true when it comes to our sexual experiences—something not everyone feels comfortable speaking about openly. Luckily, a 2017 survey has revealed one burning question about sex that most of us are curious about but may be too shy to ask: How long should it last?
Health shared the global findings of UK-based dating website Saucy Dates, which polled more than 3,000 women and men on the amount of time they wished sex (not counting foreplay) would last. Results were broken down per country, and as it turns out, of the participants surveyed, both genders had roughly the same idea, revealing that their ideal duration of intercourse is about 25 minutes long.
According to the survey, women want their ideal sex session to last 25 minutes and 51 seconds, while men say 25 minutes and 43 seconds is their optimal time in bed (or wherever they decide to do it). The reality, however, tells a different story, with the average romp lasting about 16 minutes, the survey finds.
The poll also revealed how other countries stacked up against one another. Americans came in first at 17 minutes and 5 seconds, Canadians made love for exactly 17 minutes, and Brits got it done in 16 minutes and 58 seconds. It also found that men were in their sexual prime in their 30s—or at least when it comes to keeping things going.
That said, it seems like the data revealed a gap between what people actually want compared to the current reality, which means couples could probably do more to communicate their desires in bed, for starters. In an article for Psychology Today, one sex therapist recommends several ways to initiate this type of conversation. They include focusing on one topic per conversation, and framing your needs as a suggestion versus a complaint.
On a similar note, we don't need a survey or experts to know that sex can be a positive experience. However, experts can vouch for the added health benefits sex provides. For example, Joel Kahn, MD, FACC, founder of the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity and author of Vegan Sex, told MyDomaine in 2017 that while lesser known, there is a strong association between having sex and lifespan. "The findings that you can prolong your life as well as reduce the risk of heart disease from frequent sexual intercourse are not well-known among the public (or even by medical treaters)," Kahn said. From a gynecologist's perspective, regular intercourse can boost your libido, burn calories, strengthen your pelvic floor and (if you add some Kegel exercises to the mix) boost your partner's orgasms.
Sex itself comes in many forms, and by one expert's opinion, the slow and sensual kind can have lasting effects. "Getting back into contact with our primal, wild natures, that often are evoked in our sexual interactions, is an antidote to being lonely and touch-deprived," Kimberly Johnson, a certified sexological bodyworker, told MyDomaine in 2017.
Is Sex Good for Your Health? A National Study on Partnered Sexuality and Cardiovascular Risk Among Older Men and Women. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. September 6, 2016;57(3):276-96. doi:10.1177/0022146516661597
A Strong Pelvic Floor is Associated With Higher Rates of Sexual Activity in Women With Pelvic Floor Disorders. International Urogynecology Journal. May 21, 2015;26(7):991-6. doi:10.1007/s00192-014-2583-7