Premature Ejaculation - How long should sex last really?

Jan 26, 2018,

Definitions

Premature (early) ejaculation is the most common sexual dysfunction/complaint in men younger than 40 years. An occasional instance of early ejaculation is probably experienced by all men, but if it occurs in more than 50% of attempted sexual intercourse, it might be a cause for concern requiring medical intervention. A general definition of premature ejaculation among most health professionals is ‘the occurrence of ejaculation earlier than both sexual partners wish’. This definition recognizes the individual differences in duration of sexual intercourse and the time taken to reach orgasm.

However, a major drawback to this definition can be presented in a simple clinical scenario as follows: a couple presents to the doctor with complaints of early ejaculation. Upon enquiry, the doctor finds out that the man ejaculates after 10mins of intercourse on the average. The couple then proceeds to tell the doctor that the ejaculation happens earlier than they both wish. Should this be termed as premature ejaculation since it falls within the scope of this definition? Another drawback to this definition of premature ejaculation is the time taken for the female partner to reach climax. Because many females are unable to reach climax at all with vaginal intercourse, no matter how prolonged, what is perceived as premature ejaculation might be a problem of delayed orgasm in the female.

Despite individual differences in the time taken to reach climax, it was necessary to have a unified definition for premature ejaculation in order to be able to properly categorize sufferers of this condition who require absolute medical intervention. Premature ejaculation is assessed globally using the ‘time taken by a man to ejaculate during vaginal penetration’ (intravaginal ejaculatory latency time IELT). According to the International Society for Sexual Medicine, the following evidence-based criteria define premature ejaculation:

  • Ejaculation that always or nearly always occurs before, or within about 1 minute of, vaginal penetration from the first sexual experience
  • A bothersome reduction in the time taken to ejaculate after vaginal penetration (latency time), often to about 3 minutes or less
  • Inability to delay ejaculation on all or nearly all vaginal penetrations
  • Negative personal consequences, such as distress, bother, frustration, and/or the avoidance of sexual intimacy

How long should sex last?

In a research done to quantify the opinion of expert sex therapist as to how long sex should last before ejaculation, a survey was carried out among members of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research of the United States and Canada. The aim of the research was to find out expert opinion on what is considered ‘adequate’, ‘desirable’, ‘too long’ or ‘too short’ latency time. According to these sex therapy experts, a range of ejaculatory latency time of 3 to 7 minutes was considered “adequate”, 7 to 13 minutes was “desirable”, 1 to 2 minutes was considered “too short” and 10 to 30 minutes was considered “too long”.

Another study conducted clinical interviews to diagnose premature ejaculation and also measured the ejaculatory latency times of 1,587 heterosexual couples. Those who did not qualify to be classified as having premature ejaculation during the interview had a median ejaculatory latency time of 7.3 minutes. While those who were classified as having premature ejaculation during the interview had a median ejaculatory latency time of 1.8 minutes. The results above contrasted, however, with people’s perception of how long they thought or wanted sex to last. In an online survey by another researcher, as much as 50% of men and 52% of women wanted sex to last at least 30mins. Hence, there is a huge discrepancy between what people think it should and what it is really.

Conclusion

Before you start feeling distressed about your sexual performance and the length of time before ejaculation, you need to be sure you don’t hold a fantasy in your mind of what you (or your partner) think it should be. Make sure to look out for our next post on ‘premature ejaculation – treatment options’

References

Corty EW, Guardiani JM. Canadian and American sex therapists' perceptions of normal and abnormal ejaculatory latencies: how long should intercourse last? J Sex Med. 2008 May; 5(5):1251-6.

Ablow K. Thanks for taking this poll. http://drkeith.warnerbros.com/quiz/thanks_sex. html (accessed March 30, 2007).

Miller SA, Byers ES. Actual and desired duration of foreplay and intercourse: Discordance and misperceptions within heterosexual couples. J Sex Res 2004; 41:301–9.

Waldinger MD, Quinn P, Dilleen M, Mundayat R, Schweitzer DH, Boolell M. A multinational population survey of intravaginal ejaculation latency time. J Sex Med 2005; 2:492–7.

Patrick DL, Althof SE, Pryor JL, Rosen R, Rowland DL, Ho KF, McNulty P, Rothman M, Jamieson C. Premature ejaculation: An observational study of men and their partners. J Sex Med 2005; 2:358–67.

Premature ejaculation https://emedicine.medscape.com

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