How Long Should Sex Actually Last?

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In college, I dated a guy whom my friends and I affectionately called “Two-Second Tom,” because every time he and I had sex, it was over in about two seconds. In some cases, he’d get his penis as far as my thighs, then come. It got to the point where he only felt comfortable having sex after drinking, which then, of course, led to him taking so long to come that sometimes I’d have to pinch myself to stay awake. But these experiences with Tom, and the others who followed, led me to wonder exactly how long is sex "supposed" to last. Is there a suitable amount of time? Well, according to a new survey, the average length of time sex lasts 7.3 minutes. I guess Two-Second Tom wasn’t that far off.

Adult toy store Adam & Eve polled thousands of Americans to see who’s doing it, how often, with how many people, where they’re finding these people, and of course, how long these trysts are lasting. What they found is that, with foreplay not included, the average sex session is that lowly 7.3 minutes. But while that may make you yell out, “WTF,” as I just did, not all is lost. The study also found that the average foreplay session lasts 20 minutes, more than 31% of those polled reported enjoying 30 minutes of sexin’ it up, and 12.5% are getting action that lasts an hour or more. Go team!

With these stats now out in the open, it brings us to another important question: How can you make sex last longer? For those of you grumbling about your 7.3 minutes, here are seven ways to make that happen.

1. Do Your Kegel Exercises

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It may feel like Kegel exercises are a tool of the patriarchy when you're constantly being told to do them, but they do have proven benefits.

"Kegel exercises provide multiple benefits by strengthening your pelvic floor," Dr. Jeni Vela, M.D., an OB/GYN with the Institute for Women’s Health, tells Bustle. "This consists of the muscles and tissue that support your bladder, bowels and womb, which can be weakened by weight gain, childbirth or the aging process. The simple 'clench and release' movement may seem awkward or uncomfortable at first, but it’s like any exercise: the more you practice it, the stronger you’ll become."

A 2014 study reiterated just how important Kegel exercises are for not only people with vaginas, but people with penises too. When people with penises exercise their pelvic floor muscles, they can last four times longer during penis-in-vagina sex. Say what?!

2. Change Up Your Usual Techniques

According to research by sex coach Catherine Toyooka, people with penises, especially, can benefit from changing things a bit in bed. Instead of just getting in there and staying in there, she told Muscle & Fitness that teasing your partner by taking a break from penetration to do other things. If you don’t have any place to be, you might as well take advantage of all that time you have.

3. Masturbate Often

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When we masturbate, we learn how to control our orgasms.

"For people of any genital configuration, the most important part is probably to be enough in touch with your own body and its responses that you can recognize the signs and sensations of impending orgasm," Dr. Carol Queen, PhD, Good Vibrations staff sexologist and author of The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone, tells Bustle. "If you can do this, and orgasm doesn't just sneak up and overwhelm you (which, admittedly, is nice!), it can be possible to slow it down."

You can also teach yourself while masturbating to get close to orgasm — a practice called “edging" — then bring yourself back down. In mastering this technique, both you and your partner can make sex last a hell of a lot longer. It’s also just another reason to masturbate ― not that you needed one.

4. Eat Your Veggies

If you find you have a deep love for bacon, but are lacking stamina in bed, then it might be time to switch over to soy bacon instead. Research shows that people who eat vegetable-heavy diets have more stamina, sexual and otherwise, than meat eaters. Even meat-eating athletes don’t have the endurance that their vegetarian and vegan counterparts have. Endurance, during sex, is essential in making it last longer.

5. Squeeze

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If you're having penis-in-vagina sex and your partner is on the brink of that 7.3 minutes and they don't want to come yet, then squeeze their penis. Yes, really!

According to research, if either you or your partner squeeze the penis right below the head, it can keep that orgasm from happening. The reason this works is because the pressure is applied to the urethra, and it helps push the blood that has rushed to the penis back a bit, which can stop that ejaculation from happening too fast.

Basically, a squeeze acts like a makeshift cock ring, which are meant to keep erections harder and longer, staving off climax.

“If your partner wants to have penetrative sex for a really long time, [a cock ring is] a good tool to have in your pocket," Maqnus Sullivan, author of the book Better Than The Hand and founder of ManShop, tells Bustle.

6. Numb Things Up

Since the reason sex with a partner with a penis can be a little quicker than we’d sometimes like is due to the penis getting lots of stimulation. One way to remedy that is to numb the penis. I’m serious! There are actually sprays, “local anesthetics,” if you will, that can numb the penis so your partner can last longer. There are also condoms that are extra thick to provide the same benefits, but without the numbing sensation that sprays cause.

7. Stop Thinking About Having An Orgasm

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Sex doesn’t have to result in an orgasm for it be good. According to sexual health expert,Dr. Laura Berman if we stop seeing orgasms as the “end goal,” then we’re more able to slow things down, and focus on all the other sensations involved in sex. Yes, orgasms are great, but isn’t sex longer than 7.3 minutes even greater? I’m going to answer that for you: Yes.

This post was originally published on October 21, 2015. It was updated on August 28, 2019.