Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Science & Tech
25 April 2014updated 09 Jun 2021 9:05am

Men don’t last very long in bed – and it bothers them more than it bothers women

Reports suggest that “an astonishing 45 per cent of men finish the sex act too quickly”.

By Alice Robb

In a piece on Nerve.com, Harry Fisch, author of the new book The New Naked: The Ultimate Sex Education for Grown-Ups, reports that “an astonishing 45 per cent of men finish the sex act too quickly”. How quickly? Within two minutes, according to Fisch. This would seem to be bad news for those men’s partners and good news for the posthumous reputation of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, whose research in the 1940s and 1950s concluded that three-quarters of men usually ejaculated within two minutes.

Before you conclude that Fisch’s data simply represents more evidence of a male-dominated society’s inherent pleasure inequality, it’s worth noting that more recent scholars have looked into the question of what the different sexes actually think about it. As it happens, men may be more bothered by it than women. For a 2004 paper in the Journal of Sex Research, University of New Brunswick researchers S Andrea Miller and E Sandra Byers interviewed 152 heterosexual couples on their “actual and desired duration of foreplay and of intercourse”. Their subjects spanned a wide range of ages – 21 to 77 years old – and relationship type – from 6-month to 50-year partnerships. Miller and Byers found that men reported a much longer ideal duration than did their partners. 

It’s true that for both sexes, the “ideal” length of both foreplay and intercourse was much longer than the actual. But the New Brunswick results at least suggest that the men are not happy with this status quo. 

Fisch also points out that two minutes is “way too speedy for the average woman to be able to have an orgasm through vaginal penetration alone”. But an even older piece of research suggests that link might not be quite so clear. In a 1951 paper in the Journal of Psychology, “Correlates of orgasm adequacy in a group of 556 wives,” psychologist Lewis Terman found no significant correlation between intercourse duration and female “orgasm adequacy”. Alas, the concept of speed has not fared as well in more recent research. In a 2009 paper in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Czech psychologists Petr Weiss and Stuart Brody found, based on surveys with 2,360 Czech women, that women’s chance of having an orgasm was much more highly correlated with duration of sex than of foreplay.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

The good news here is that, according to Fisch, the average duration is 7.3 minutes – only 4 minutes less than women’s “ideal”.

This article first appeared on newrepublic.com