Sex Q&A

Sex Question Friday: Sex On The Brain, Female Orgasms, And Finishing Too Fast

May 18, 2012 by Justin Lehmiller

Every Friday on the blog, I answer sex questions submitted to me by actual college students. This week, we’re talking about whether there’s any truth to the old saying that men really think about sex every seven seconds, whether women can achieve orgasm through sexual intercourse alone, and how long sex is “supposed” to last.

Is it true that men think about sex every 7 seconds?

Nope. File this one under the category of myth. Just think about it, if we assume that the average guy has sex on the brain every 7 seconds and is awake for 16 hours per day, that translates to 8,228 thoughts about sex each and every day! If men really thought about sex that much, it seems highly unlikely that guys could ever accomplish anything else. The reality is that men think about sex an average of 34 times per day, or about twice per hour [1]. However, there’s significant variability among guys, with some thinking about it almost never and others thinking about it hundreds of times per day. To learn more about the research on this topic as well as how often women think about sex, check out this article.

Can a woman achieve orgasm while just having intercourse?

Yes; however, most women do not. So for those ladies out there who do not seem able to reach orgasm during intercourse, please do not think that you are abnormal in any way! The reality is that most women require other forms of stimulation in order to climax. That said, there are some women who do regularly reach orgasm through intercourse alone, but research suggests that they may simply be the lucky beneficiaries of an anatomical variation in which their clitoris happens to sit closer to their vaginal opening. The key for women is to experiment with different sexual positions and to try other forms of stimulation to see what brings them the most pleasure because women can reach orgasm in many different ways.

Is sex only supposed to last one minute?

Most sex therapists believe that an “adequate” intercourse session lasts anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes and a “desirable” one lasts 7 to 13 minutes [2]. Thus, if your sexual encounters are regularly lasting only a minute or two, they would definitely be considered short. However, the key here is not how long sex lasts, but whether it lasts long enough for both partners to be satisfied. If one partner is finishing much sooner than the other and this is causing distress for one or both partners, then it’s likely that we’re dealing with a case of premature orgasm, a condition that affects men much more frequently than women. In fact, about one in three men consistently climax too quickly. Fortunately, this problem can be treated relatively easily and you can read about some of the treatment possibilities here.

For previous editions of Sex Question Friday, click here. To send in a question for a future edition, click here.

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[1] Fisher, T. D., Moore, Z. T., & Pittenger, M. (2012). Sex on the brain?: An examination of frequency of sexual cognitions as a function of gender, erotophilia, and social desirability. The Journal of Sex Research, 49, 69-77.

[2] Corty, E. W., & Guardiani, J. M. (2008). Canadian and American sex therapists’ perceptions of normal and abnormal ejaculatory latencies: How long should intercourse last? Journal of Sexual Medicine, 5, 1251-1256.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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