Is There An Ideal Duration For Sex? A Urologist Breaks It Down - Women's Health

Is There An Ideal Duration For Sex? A Urologist Breaks It Down

Urologist and pelvic surgeon Dr Rena Malik explains the average length of time sex lasts in real life.

Hollywood movies and rom-coms have long concerned themselves with the topic of sex. From Carrie Bradshaw to Serena Van der Woodsen, it seems some of our most formative memories around the topic are those we’ve learned from characters displayed on screen. But while some of the teachings might have been valuable, it goes without saying that others were the stuff of creative licence. And when it comes to the duration of sex, a number of myths abound. 

For men, being “good in bed” has long surrounded this issue of duration. Not surprisingly, premature ejaculation remains one of the primary sources of anxiety for many men, while delayed ejaculation can also cause similar issues. In an effort to clarify some of the misinformation that continues to surround the topic, urologist and pelvic surgeon Dr Rena Malik addressed the average length of time that sex lasts in real life. 

In a video posted to her YouTube channel, Malik refers to a study which examined the data of 500 couples around the world. During the study, couples recorded the duration of sexual intercourse using a stopwatch, with the data being limited to penetrative sex, excluding foreplay. It should also be noted that it solely looked at heterosexual couplings for the research. For the study, penetrative sex is measured in terms of intravaginal ejaculation latency time (IELT), which is just another way of saying from the beginning of penetration to ejaculation. 


The study revealed that the IELT which men consider to be the “ideal” length of time is 16 minutes, but in actuality the real time is closer to 9 minutes. Even so, the study reveals that the average IELT is just 5.7 minutes. 

As Malik notes, the recorded times displayed a wide range, with some recording less than a minute to 55 minutes in length. “Interestingly, it varied by location,” she says, explaining that Turkey had the lowest average IELT of 4.4 minutes, while the United Kingdom had the highest IELT of around 10 minutes. 

Of course, the major flaw in the research is that it looks only at the length of time it takes for the male partner to reach orgasm during penetration, ignoring the preferable or ideal length of time for the female partner. With this in mind, Malik refers to a survey of more than 4,000 women which found that their ideal IELT would be somewhere in the 25 minute range. 

“Again, this is variable from person to person,” she explains. “I wouldn’t put too much stock in these numbers. What I want you to take away is what is normal, what is average. And if you are reaching average, that’s great. The most important thing is that you and your partner are satisfied.”

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