top of page

Measuring Up: Part Two

I was invited to roast a friend’s husband for his birthday last night. She started the show by mentioning they had just finished a 27 day challenge where they had sex every day. She mentioned she was never so relieved to start her period and to be able to say, “Not tonight Honey.”

Twenty-seven days is impressive. I honestly don’t think I have done anything voluntary for 27 days – pleasurable or not. But, when it comes to sex, how does 27 days in a row measure up? And how about time? Is three minutes of intercourse normal? How many couples have marathon sex, going at it for more than three hours at a whack? Where do you fall on the sexual performance spectrum?

Well, your Auntie is here to help! I have combed through medical studies and sexuality journals to ferret out the details about sex that you have been curious about (although nothing about ferrets came up in my search!)

How Long Do People Do It?

This is hard to measure. First, sex is hard to define. Does it start with the first kiss, what if you are gently touching throughout dinner and a movie and end up boning away? What is the “official” start of sex?

Most research is pretty penis-centric – partly because it is easy to measure and define sex around a penis. So, my apologies for the lack of a feminist perspective. I hate medical research for that reason (and so can you!). But, here is what the current literature says.

Dr. Brendan Zietsch, a psychological researcher from Queensland University (very reputable for those not in the know) asked 500 heterosexual couples to use a stop watch to time from point of insertion of a penis (into either the vagina or anus) to male orgasm (Like I said, this is very penis-centric). The couples timed their coupling for a month. Here is what they reported.

Shortest time from insertion to ejaculation: 33 seconds – so, if you last through a commercial, you are above that time!

Longest time: 44 minutes – Good for him! Hope there was a lot of lube and nothing got rubbed raw.

Average time: 5.4 minutes. That is two songs on the radio or the extended mix of Raspberry Beret by Prince.


On average, sexual encounters last 5.4 minutes.


That is just one study. What is the general consensus:

Across the literature, it seems that sex lasting less than two minutes is generally considered to be “too short.” Sex lasting three to seven minutes is generally considered to be “satisfying.” The most desirable length of time seems to be ten to thirteen minutes. “Too long” ranges from 10 to 30 minutes.

How Kinky Are You?

An article in the Journal of Sexual Medicine by Joyal surveyed 1,500 Canadians about their sex lives and fantasies. He found that most of us are freaky (if you disagree, blame Canada).

Joyal defined “common fantasies” as sexual fantasies that more than 50 percent of the respondents reported having. Here are some of the “common” fantasies:

  1. Sex in “an unusual place (e.g., office, public toilets)”: 82% women + 82 % men

  2. MFF threesome: 37% women + 84.5% men

  3. Having sex with a stranger: 49% women + 72.5% men

  4. Being dominated sexually: 65% women + 53% men (I want to point out that the gender split is not radically different here!)

  5. Dominating someone sexually: 47% women + 60% men

  6. Bondage: 52% women + 46% men

  7. Having sex with more than three people, including men and women: 56.5 percent women + 16 percent men More women want more gangbangs than men!

Slightly less common,  but far from unusual:

  1. Spanking or whipping someone: 24% women + 43.5% men

  2. Being spanked or whipped: 36% women + 28.5% men

One of the most surprising findings to me was that about as many men have rape fantasies as women:

Being forced to have sex: 29% women + 31% men

So, for the most part, you are probably pretty normal.


About 30 percent of both men and women fantasize about being forced to have sex.


You might qualify as “unusual” if you have the “less common fantasies:

Having sex with a sex worker, engaging in water sports (peeing on someone/being peed on), cross-dressing, humiliation, or being forced to be naked in public. Unusual but nor rare- between 10 and 20 percent of all subjects reported these fantasies.

But, that is just reporting about fantasies.

How many people actually get kinky?

According to the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom about half of all sexually active people have tried some form of bondage (e.g., blindfolds, handcuffs, getting tied up) and a third of us have been spanked (guys AND girls!).

While a good number of people (between 20 and 30 percent, depending on the study) engage in sex play that involves some level of pain, only 2 to 3 percent of people report getting sexual pleasure from pain. This does not mean the rest don’t like having pain inflicted. Researchers tend to ask the question, “Do you get sexual pleasure from pain,” and measure either penile tumescence or vaginal congestion while having pain inflicted or self-reports. However, this misses the fact that many people engage in BDSM and masochistic behavior not because it leads to orgasm, but for many other pleasurable reasons.

How often are people getting it on?

Surveys of people 18 to 70 years old found out that most people have sex an average of once a week, give or take a few days. Only four percent of us have sex four or more times a week. Sixteen percent of people had sex two to three times a week. Fifteen percent of folks reported having sex only a couple of times a year.

Autostraddle has a great article on how often lesbians are getting down with one another. It is not very different than how often straight folks get it on (despite rumors of lesbian bed death and cat(us) interruptus). There are too many results to summarize, but definitely check it out here for some info on girl-on-girl action!

Couples have sex a lot more often than single people do. The average single person has sex about 49 times a year. The average unmarried couple living together has sex about 149 times a year. And, married couples tend to get it on about 98 times a year. SO, all you married comics complaining about the lack of sex in marriage, just remember, you will have a closer relationship with your dominant hand if you end up single again.

So, you are probably not that weird.

If you have sex for about 5 minutes once a week and maybe blindfold or tie up your partner, you are most likely doing the same thing your neighbors and the parents in the PTA are doing.

Share this:

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page