Several studies have been carried out on the average duration of sexual intercourse. The topic is quite captivating and has always been a source of jokes and comparisons, especially between men seated in a bar, and who usually declare themselves “marathon runners”, when it comes to sex.

But what do the studies suggest?

First of all, that there is no “normality” (i.e. the duration of sexual intercourse) as intended to mean from the beginning of penetration until ejaculation; it depends on many factors:

  • The age of the man, but also of his partner
  • Level of experience
  • Emotional state (e.g. “performance anxiety”)
  • Degree of intimacy and comfort-level with the partner
  • Frequency of sexual intercourse

A Dutch study monitored 500 couples from various countries and reported that the average time was just over five minutes, with a large percentage of the study participants “lasting” around two minutes after penetration.

But can we speak about premature ejaculation?

According to the definition of the International Society for Sexual Medicine (ISSM), premature ejaculation is a sexual dysfunction, characterized by ejaculation that occurs even before, or within one minute; of vaginal penetration, or generally represents the inability to delay ejaculation at will. In the most serious cases, ejaculation can occur during foreplay and is defined as ante portam.

Premature ejaculation can then be distinguished in:

Primary – seems to have a genetic basis and is present from the very beginning of the individual’s sexual activity.

Secondary – appears over the course of the person’s life, after a period of satisfactory ejaculatory times. In these cases, the origin of the problem is to be found in the lack (or specifically, the loss) of confidence, on a psychological level or in the inability to maintain an erection for the entire duration of sexual intercourse.

With regard to primary premature ejaculation, we speak of the genetic basis as the increased activity of the hydroxytryptamine transport gene, a gene involved in the control of serotonin, which in turn is a molecule capable of mediating ejaculatory rapidity. Based on this scientific evidence, some “researchers” have gone so far as to affirm the possible heredity of premature ejaculation. However, the activity of the gene in question is said (in Biology) to be inducible (i.e. it varies in response from the environment), so if a man is stressed or suffers from anxiety, and his relationship with his partner is not currently functioning well, his ejaculatory rapidity will also suffer; so heredity is only one of the many factors, and it can be modulated by the couple’s environment and behavior.

But back to the Dutch study. We mentioned above that a good portion of the participant group in the study had an ejaculation time of approximately two minutes; very close to the minute below which they are labeled as “early ejaculators” and sent off to therapy.

Ejaculation in an evolutionary context.

As an Evolutionary Biologist, however, I must reassure everyone in that area, that is, “around” two minutes. We must always keep in mind that today’s man genetically is practically identical (except for some mutations) to that of his ancestors ten thousand years ago — when being quick to ejaculate meant staying less time in a situation where one was easy prey, so from a biological point of view, the adaptation to the environment was a winning characteristic of our ancestors.

Of course, now times have changed and predators are far away, so a short session of sexual intercourse is no longer an advantage, and so called “marathon runners” are probably more appreciated by their partner. In conclusion, those who feel close to being an “early ejaculator” (a secondary condition), may feel justified from a biological point of view but not exempt from doing everything to satisfy their partner too, turning to a urologist if necessary.

This post is also available in: Italiano

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