The Ideal Time to Spend Making Love

Luckily we all have different likes and turn ons and we all derive sexual satisfaction in different ways, so the topic of the ideal duration for intercourse remains a fairly subjective one.

And while the last thing we’re suggesting is that we all get busy to the accompaniment of a ticking stopwatch, the fact remains that in order for men and women to glean shared sexual gratification together, we all need to give it time.
Though it’s probably not as much as you previously thought.

ideal time

The facts

In 2005, American physician Dr. Irwin Goldstein conducted a survey of 1,500 couples to determine the average duration of their lovemaking sessions. The result? 7.3 minutes, which we reckon is a lot less than certain aspects of modern popular culture have lead us to believe.

Then, three years later, Dr. Eric Corty, another American, published the findings of a study carried out on 50 couples to determine the length of time they would like their lusty liaisons – that is to say, from penetration to ejaculation – to last. The findings showed:

  • Between 1 and 2 minutes: no prizes for guessing that the partaking couples judged this to be ‘too short.’
  • Between 3 and 7 minutes: they judged this length of time as ‘satisfactory.’
  • Between 7 and 13 minutes: this was deemed the ‘ideal’ duration.
  • Over 13 minutes: this is where our couples began thinking that the whole thing was going on a little ‘too long.’

The foreplay

It takes men somewhere between three and five minutes to orgasm and women considerably more, so if your aim is to crack the holy grail and enjoy a shared climax, he needs to hold back a bit.

With that and the above stats in mind, a great way to help him is to encourage him to focus more attention on her erogenous zones during foreplay, as studies suggest it takes women somewhere between ten and thirty minutes to become fully aroused.

Picking out all the best bits during the entree should work wonders when it comes to enjoying the main course later on.

The math

So now that we’ve dazzled you with the kind of science that would have actually had you paying attention in high school, it’s time to do a little math too.

Ten to 30 minutes of foreplay in addition to between seven and 13 minutes of sex means the ideal length of time a session should last is anywhere between 17 and 43 minutes, depending on your penchant for foreplay and of course the main event itself.

We guess that means there’s no such thing as the up all night sex sessions we read about so often in all the gossip pages and that the ideal duration for making love is simply as long as those who are doing it say it is.

So whether it’s your fifteen minutes of fame or just seven minutes in heaven, everyone gets their time to shine at some point. How long will yours last?

Written by: Katy Thorn

Katy Thorn is a post-grad writer with a passion for writing about sex, sexuality, and all things rated R. She received her degree in Women’s Studies with a focus in Intersectionality at the University of California, Berkeley (Go Bears!). She has a cat named Yoko, drinks too much black coffee, and hates writing bios.


  1. I fall way outside the norm based on these studies. The all night sex sessions you mention as being something of an urban legend. Not necessarily having to be “all night”, at least an hour is acceptable to me, but ideally 3-4 hours of play is what I and my partners shoot for, the longer we go the more aroused and excited we get, leading to a frenzy by the finish, but the finish isn’t necessarily when he ejaculates the first time, and yes I said first time, because other sexual acts that don’t involve the penis can be performed while he recovers enough to get another erection. Though I have never been a fan of conventional methods (such as foreplay followed by penetration then ejaculation and then done) so switching things up and doing them in whatever order, based on what I feel like doing at that moment, certainly helps to keep things going longer and keeps them more interesting. There are soooo many different possibilities in terms of sexual acts, that even in 4 hours, if done right, its still not possible to get through them all! But this is just my view, and in my opinion, if a sex session only lasts 45 minutes, its not worth having.

  2. I have had what would be considered a quickie which is seven to ten minutes of penetration. I do not even consider foreplay but with foreplay it is usually a half hour. though sometimes I just want to do a quickie then it is seven to ten minutes. But normally I am for foreplay for about a half hr then ten to fifteen minutes of intercourse. Sometimes longer sometimes shorter. But my feelings have been that a women should be able to have an orgasm as much as men. It stinks that many times women are not able to have an orgasm because they do not have enough time to reach them. But I have been told that time doesn’t matter as long as the man and the women are satisfied that’s what really matters. That doesn’t even mean that the women orgasms. But I have found it best if both are able to because it would stink not to be able to.

  3. I’m seriously surprised by these numbers. My past two boyfriends have lasted at least 45 mins while having sex – foreplay not included. My current boyfriend and I have sex for at LEAST an hour. We could go literally as long as I like, but it usually starts to get painful at the hour and a half mark. My boyfriend before him could also last a long time but his penis was too large for me so I wouldn’t be able to enjoy much more than 30 minutes of sex.

  4. Shouldn’t this article be titled, The Average Time It Takes For A Man To Ejaculate During Intercourse? It’s certainly not measuring love making. Where in this scientific data is the woman? In the sexual science equation of “love making” shouldn’t there be two people involved? So this article, and the science it attempts to explain, is horribly skewed. Not surprising, in this male dominated culture we live in, that the science completely overlooks the female orgasm. To say that it takes a woman “considerably longer” is to discount women all together when it comes to measuring sex. Love making is more than it’s parts, and ejaculation is just one part. It’s so disheartening that it is being used as the measure of how long love making usually takes. My partner and I can make love for hours, so to suggest that the ideal time is 7.3 minutes is ridiculous, if not laughable.

  5. My frustration is why the measurements starts with the female arousal time (10-30 minutes) and ends with the male’s orgasm (3-5 minutes). Am I wrong to think that it should have ended with the women’s orgasm? If the measurement is the time it takes to prepare a woman for intercourse, and then the time it takes to ejaculate, it’s completely male centric. In terms of truly measuring love making, it seems we’ve left the female experience completely out of the equation.

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