Here's The Problem With The Idea Of Lasting Longer In Bed

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I always thought it was super hot when a partner finished quickly. It makes me feel like I’m really turning them on, and I experience the pleasure vicariously through them. But some seem to believe this is more embarrassing than sexy. Premature ejaculation affects one in three men at some point, according to the Mayo Clinic. But who’s deciding what’s “premature”?

The pressure to make sex last as long as humanly possible is all around us. Article after article teaches techniques for lasting longer in bed. There are condoms and sprays designed for this purpose. It makes you wonder how any man can enjoy sex if he’s busy trying to postpone the peak of his enjoyment.

Yet it’s unclear exactly what value prolonged intercourse has. Often, the purported goal is to increase a woman’s chances of orgasming. But if the only act being done is penetration, that’s unlikely anyway. Only a quarter of women regularly orgasm through intercourse. And even if a woman is one of the rare few who can come through penetration alone, there are probably other things she’ll enjoy as well. So why are we so obsessed with making sex last long?

You Can Have Sex Without A Hard Penis

All in all, the idea that every erection has to last as long as possible reflects the belief that sex revolves around the penis. (I see you, patriarchy.) But lots of fun sexual acts just involve the vulva, and others still involve parts of the body outside the genitals.

It's Only A Problem If It Bothers You

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As a consequence of our penis-centric view of sex, many people who think they suffer from premature ejaculation don’t actually have a problem. ”We need to unpack the term, because it definitely has embedded expectations that an erection is supposed to last a particular (though unspecified) length of time, and within that is the assumption that an erection is the main way you have sex and that a partner gets pleasured,” Good Vibrations staff sexologist Carol Queen tells Bustle. “Sexologists don't like the implied judgement of the term ‘premature,’ preferring to call it ‘ejaculating before you want to’ or the like.”

“Want” is the key word there, because each individual gets to decide how long they want sex to last. It’s OK to want to last longer, but there’s no reason to feel like if you don’t, the sex was bad. “A person or their partner might have particular wishes about the duration of intercourse,” says Queen. “But without good basic sex information, this theoretical couple might have assumptions about these issues that turn out to be incorrect.”

Check Your Expectations

Around the world, intercourse lasts 5.4 minutes on average, according to a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Calling a sexual encounter that falls within that range “premature” sets up unrealistic expectations — not just for people with penises who can’t last half an hour but also for people with vaginas who can’t orgasm through intercourse, even if the act lasts half an hour.

“Because most women, in particular, don't regularly (or, in many cases, ever) orgasm from intercourse alone, the idea that someone's erection won't last long enough to please their partner ignores the many other pleasurable activities that sex can include,” says Queen. “Things that might be way more likely to result in orgasm than simply intercourse with an erect penis. Not trying to talk that down, because it can be fantastic and pleasurable and orgasmic for some. But the overall way to think about sex gives people more options for pleasure and orgasm if it's less erection- and intercourse-centered, and more ‘we have lots of sensitive, nerve-ending fulled body parts — let's enjoy them.’”