One of the most common questions I get asked is, “How long should sex last?”, usually followed by “What advice do you have for me (or my man) to last longer?”. So we thought it was time to create the definitive guide for couples about this common sexual issue.
Do Couples Even Want to Have Longer-Lasting Sex?
I did some research and found that the length of time of sex is a common complaint among both men and women in the many sex surveys done by a variety of publications, including Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health, and Esquire. In the Cosmopolitan article Here’s How Long Sex Should Last for a Woman’s Maximum Enjoyment, author Laura Beck studied the topic and writes:
“A 2004 study published in the Journal of Sex Research found study participants enjoyed 11 to 13 minutes of foreplay followed by seven to eight minutes of intercourse. That’s pretty good but not as good as what the participants wanted: double the time for the sex! So maybe it’s that women want a good amount of foreplay and then an additional 14 to 16 minutes of doing the deed.”
This theme of a desire for sex in the 20+ minutes is quite common, while the average man only lasts 5-6 minutes.
So That Makes Most Men Premature Ejaculators, Right?
If both men and women want sex to last longer, and the termination of sex almost always coincides with male orgasm (the frustrating truth for many women), then most men would be considered premature ejaculators, wouldn’t they? Yes – but do we have to use that phrase? No moniker strikes more fear into men than that one. But it shouldn’t be that way. Why is it called premature if it’s so common? How about we just strike “premature ejaculation” from the conversation and let’s just say that there’s plenty of couples that want to have longer-lasting sex.
Isn’t It Just Mind Over Matter?
For those of you not old enough to remember the world of men’s sexual health prior to the introduction of Viagra in 1998, there was issue called “impotence” – the inability to obtain and sustain an erection. Nowadays, it is called “erectile dysfunction”. Men with ED spent countless hours and money visiting therapists, reading books, and watching VHS tapes (back then) with mental trickery that could supposedly solve the problem. None of it worked. Viagra changed everything. No one is talking about psychotherapy to fix ED anymore.
Fast forward 20 years and we have a similar situation with premature ejaculation. Men continue to spend lots of money on therapy and “training” and, just like with ED, none of it helps men last longer during sex. Sure, therapy can help men cope with PE but I have scoured the literature and I cannot find a single study that shows psychotherapy helps men delay orgasm.
What Causes Male Orgasm?
If we’re going to advise you about how to delay orgasm, we should first try to understand what causes a man to ejaculate.
It’s quite complex, involving the central nervous system and mostly two organs – the penis and the brain. Many of you out there may think that once a man is aroused, his brain shuts off and the penis takes over! Seriously, though, drugs like alcohol and opioids that depress the central nervous system generally result in delayed orgasm. Numerous studies have shown that men who take anti-depressants in the form of SSRIs that increase serotonin levels in the brain will delay ejaculation during sex. Nevertheless, penis sensitivity is considered the key factor in a man’s ejaculation control. And some men have a higher penis sensitivity than others and a small percent are hypersensitive. It’s also the easiest to manage.
After ejaculation, men lose their ability to sustain an erection. The time until he can once again achieve an erection is called the refractory period. For young men with refractory periods of less than 10 minutes, early ejaculation is often not a problem as he can often keep his partner sexually aroused until he can begin intercourse again. A man’s refractory period lengthens with age and the opportunity for a quick recovery diminishes such that he typically only has a single ejaculation in a sexual session. Thus, the emphasis for most men on climax control.
Ways to Last longer in Bed Right Now
Here are some sure-fired ways (and a few duds) on how to last longer in bed. Mostly for him but she can also participate, if not directly, then with patience and support.
Long-term Prep: Drugs and Exercises
I’m not in favor of prescription drugs for having longer-lasting sex as there are so many other good methods and treatments. Exercises? I have yet to see any proof that they work. In an effort to provide a complete list, here are the ways you can extend the time to climax:
- Anti-depressants – an off-label prescription of a daily SSRI (e.g. Zoloft, Paxil) will help most men delay ejaculation. Side effects are numerous including, of all things, loss of libido. My least favorite idea.
- Tramadol – Some men have obtained improvement when using this opioid and, for some men, taken only hours prior to sex. It’s falling out of favor as new topical desensitizing medications are effective and have very little side effects. Did I mention it’s an opioid?
- Priligy / Dapoxetine – for those living outside the US, you can probably obtain this fast-acting anti-depressant that is taken 1-3 hours before sex. It’s popular in other countries but a recent study showed that 90% of men stop using this drug within a year.
- Kegel Exercises – While this method may help (studies are contradictory), you have to do a lot of kegels for a long time consistently before you would see any results.
- Whiskey Dick – Maybe the worst last-longer sex hack. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system and generally makes your body, including your penis, less sensitive to stimulation. There are many better ways to delay ejaculation. I only mention it specifically to discourage men from considering this stupid idea.
- Masturbate prior to having sex. This is a very effective way to last longer. Ejaculate as close in time as possible to when you plan to have sex, but careful; make sure it’s a longer time than your typical refractory period.
- What about marijuana? There’s been only one study in Australia and the results appear inconclusive. Given that marijuana warps the perception of time, maybe men think they’re lasting longer.
- Use a desensitizer, often referred to as a delay spray. These products use a formula with an active ingredient of either benzocaine or lidocaine delivered in a small spray bottle. Apply directly on the penis to reduce sensitivity. They work great but with the wrong product or improper application, both partners can lose sexual sensation. Our favorite is Promescent – its advanced absorption formula allows the man to maintain great sexual sensation with virtually no transfer to his partner.
- Stamina Pills – I have serious doubts that any of these products actually work, especially when many of them have been caught lacing their powders with sildenafil (generic Viagra) – FDA Warning of Tainted Sexual Health Products. Stay away.
- What about ED drugs? PDE-5 inhibitors such as Viagra, Levitra and Cialis won’t make men last longer but they can shorter a man’s refractory period, and he will then have a much better chance to ejaculate twice in a single sex session and last much longer the second time around. Consult a physician before taking one of these prescription drugs.
If you’re 100% dedicated to a natural method, try these.
- Sex Positions – According Bustle’s 7 Sex Positions to Help Him Last Longer in Bed, Vanessa Marin, a licensed sex psychotherapist claims spooning, side-by-side and the cross as her top 3. I’ve read where doggy style may be one for a quick finish because it stimulates the sensitive underside of the penis.
- Start / Stop Method – This one has been around since couples started having sex for pleasure rather than just for procreation. Doesn’t need any explanation except guys – don’t wait until just before you’re ready to ejaculate to stop. When you get close to the point of no return, you won’t last a minute when you get going again.
- Squeeze Method – Just like it sounds. When the man gets close to ejaculation, he or is partner squeezes his penis hard enough to decrease sexual desire. Pain is stronger than pleasure!
- Sandwich Technique – I learned this by reading sexual medicine expert Dr. Michael Werner’s Maze Men’s Health (see Treatment Options). For men with short refractory periods (men under 30), “sandwich” foreplay between two orgasms. Start sex with rapid stimulation to an intended quick ejaculation; then foreplay until he achieves erection again.
- Distraction Techniques – The only good that I can say about this idea is that there aren’t any side effects other than bad sex. Can we just stop this myth once and for all? And even if it did help, who wants to be thinking about his grandmother naked while having sex?
And the Winner is … I recommend a topical desensitizer. They’re very effective, easy to use, low cost per use, have minimal side effects and don’t need a prescription. They are gaining tremendous popularity.
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