Gender, Sex Ed

How Long Does It Take Women And Men To Reach Orgasm?

June 26, 2019 by Justin Lehmiller

Woman orgasm face. Climax.

Much has been said and written in the popular media about the length of time it typically takes men and women to reach orgasm; however, most of this information is based on anecdotal reports, not science. So what does research on this subject say? Here’s what scientists have found when they’ve given men and women stopwatches and asked them to record as precisely as possible the length of time it takes them to climax.

First, if we look at men’s reports, there are two studies I’m aware of that have looked at this [1,2]. Both studies focused specifically on what’s called “intravaginal ejaculation latency time,” which refers to the length of time it takes a man to reach orgasm starting from the first moment of vaginal penetration. These data therefore only tell us how long it takes men to reach orgasm when they’re having intercourse with a woman, so we can’t say how that’s similar to or different from time to reach orgasm during masturbation, during sex with a male partner, or during other sexual activities.

That said, in both of these studies, the median (meaning 50th percentile) length of time to reach orgasm was 5.4 minutes in one study and 6 minutes in the other. In other words, somewhere between 5 and 6 minutes seems to be pretty typical for guys, at least when it comes to men’s experiences with orgasm during vaginal intercourse.

Second, it we look at women’s reports, I’m only aware of one study that has looked at this [3]. The methods were a little different because instead of focusing specifically on time to orgasm during vaginal intercourse, they looked at time to orgasm when women had “intense desire for sex in the presence of erotic stimuli.” While only heterosexual women were included in this study, they considered activities in which stimulation was provided by a partner, pornography, or both.

Average time to orgasm was 13.4 minutes, a bit more than twice the length of time men reported in the studies mentioned above. Importantly, 69% of women in this study reported that intercourse alone was not sufficient to lead to orgasm, which tells us that it’s very common for women to need other activities or forms of stimulation in order to climax. Most women also reported that, when it came to intercourse, they orgasmed faster and had longer-lasting orgasms when they were on top of their partner (likely because this position offers more consistent clitoral stimulation).

Again, there are a lot of limitations of these data, not the least of which is that only heterosexual adults were studied and, further, all participants were currently in relationships. Also, the methods were different in the male and female studies, which means the numbers aren’t directly comparable (recall that the study of women appears to have included activities beyond intercourse, whereas the studies of men did not).

Clearly, more research is needed on diverse populations and different sexual practices. However, based on the available data, there does appear to be a pretty sizeable difference between heterosexual men and women in time to reach orgasm, which is clearly important to attend to in male-female sexual encounters in the interest of promoting mutual pleasure and closing the orgasm gap.

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[1] Waldinger, M. D., Quinn, P., Dilleen, M., Mundayat, R., Schweitzer, D. H., & Boolell, M. (2005). Ejaculation disorders: A multinational population survey of intravaginal ejaculation latency time. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2(4), 492-497.

[2] Waldinger, M. D., McIntosh, J., & Schweitzer, D. H. (2009). A five‐nation survey to assess the distribution of the intravaginal ejaculatory latency time among the general male population. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 6(10), 2888-2895.

[3] Bhat, G., & Shastry, A. (2019). 012 Average Time to Orgasm (TitOr) in Females during Heterosexual Penovaginal Intercourse.The Journal of Sexual Medicine,16(6), S6.

Image Source: 123RF/golubovy

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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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