In our pursuit of the perfect orgasm, we often find ourselves asking exactly how long it should take to get there.
Many of us worry that we’re reaching orgasm too quickly, and not lasting long enough for our partners to enjoy penetrative sex. Just as many are concerned with lasting too long, wondering if our partners are getting tired or bored of pleasuring us.
The good news is that there’s no precise, ideal time that it should take you to reach orgasm. Sex really is a ‘quality over quantity’ kinda thing, and our take is that it doesn’t matter how long it takes for you to come so long as you and your partner/s are enjoying yourselves and having fun.
But if you’re curious about whether or not your orgasms are happening within the normal amount of time, or if you just want to experiment with some fun ways to speed up or slow down orgasm, read on!
Curious about exactly how long it takes most people to come? We’re going to give you the stats right now. (And we want to point out that these are just the average times it takes people to come—not the ideal times!)
A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that the average time it takes women to reach orgasm during penetration is 13 minutes and 41 seconds.
Another study published in the same journal found that the average time it takes men to reach orgasm during penetration is 5 minutes and 7 seconds.
So, these are good, reliable, scientific studies—but we want to point out that the quality of sex isn’t always something that can be measured and quantified. We have a lot of questions about the people in these studies, like: were they satisfied with their orgasms? Were their partners experiencing pleasure? Were they tired, stressed, or really horny beforehand? (All of these things can have big effects on how long it takes a person to reach climax!) And were they having sex that was fun, consenting, generous, and enjoyable for all? We think this stuff is far more important than taking a specific amount of time to climax.
All things considered, there are perfectly good reasons why someone would want to vary the length of time it takes them to come. The orgasm gap is a very real thing, and some people find that if their partner comes before they do, they lose their chance to get off. Some can feel like they’re missing out if they come too fast, and others might be frustrated when their partner is able to come long before they do—it might feel like they have to ‘work too hard’ to get over the finish line.
Here are some ways you can experiment with altering how long it takes you to come.
Reframe your idea of ‘normal’
Our thoughts and feelings can influence the sex we’re having in massive ways. If you’re going into sex feeling insecure or nervous about your orgasm, you might find it difficult to enjoy yourself because of the headspace you’re in. Try reframing your idea of what a ‘normal’ orgasm is so that you can feel more comfortable about your own—do some research online, chat with your mates, and even speak with a doctor if you’re feeling concerned. If it helps at all to know, many people experience premature ejaculation—so many that we’d actually say it’s normal to come quickly sometimes—and it’s something that can easily be worked through and treated.
Speak with your partner
If you’re worried that the time it takes you to come might mean your partner isn’t being satisfied, the best thing you can do is talk to them about it. Ask them how they feel about the sex you’re having, whether they’re feeling pleasured, and if there’s anything you can do to help them have more or better orgasms. You never know—they might be totally happy with the way things are, or there might be a few little things you can do to make things even better for them. But you’ll never know how they truly feel unless you ask.
A lot of us take desire for granted, but it can be super influential on our sex lives. Sex researcher Emily Nagoski proposed that there are two forms of desire: responsive and spontaneous. Spontaneous desire is that urge that hits you out of the blue, but responsive desire is the urge you get after you’ve already experienced pleasure. If you’re someone who experiences spontaneous desire more often, and your partner is more responsive, you might find that you’re not always at the same place with regards to arousal, desire, and orgasm. This is totally fine, but it may mean you need to spend more time on foreplay and setting the mood to make sure that nobody gets left behind.
Experiment with edging
If you feel you reach orgasm too quickly, edging can be an effective (and really sexy) way to slow things down. Playing either solo or with a partner, let yourself get right to the point of orgasm—and then stop! Cool down for a short while, and then get back to that ‘edge’ and choose to either come, or back away again. Some people who experiment with edging report that it gives them stronger, more intense orgasms, while others just like it because it means they don’t come quite as fast. Of course, if you’re edging with a partner, make sure they’re fully informed and consenting before you begin.
Try different ways of getting off
If you take longer to come than you would like, have a think about what really turns you on and makes you come and then try to incorporate that more into your sex life. It might sound obvious, but if you find it hard to come during penetrative sex but really easy to come during oral, the issue may not be that your orgasm takes a long time to arrive—it might be that you need more than penetration to come. Perhaps your partner could spend some time going down on you before or after penetrative sex, or you could take a break from penetration to engage in oral for a while. Or maybe there are other kinds of orgasms you prefer to have! “Penetrative sex is one form of sex that a lot of people do, thinking it’s the way they ‘should’ be having and enjoying sex, but the reality is it’s just one way to have sex. There’s a whole wide world of pleasure out there,” says sex coach, Georgia Grace.
Look on the bright side
There are endless ways to experience pleasure, and orgasms are just one of those ways. Orgasms can be fun, sexy, and really enjoyable, but it’s completely possible to have amazing, fulfilling sex even if your orgasm doesn’t come at the moment you want it to. Find other ways to create intimacy with your partner and yourself, and work on taking the ‘goal’ of orgasm out of sex. Maybe you forget about orgasms for a night and give your partner, or yourself, a really great massage with some luxe body oil. Maybe you watch or listen to some erotica, experiment with a new toy, or find a new way to explore some fantasies. Try to enjoy the moment for what it is, regardless of how fast or slow you come. “Sex can be whatever you want it to be,” says Georgia. “As long as everyone is consenting and enjoying themselves.”