09 May, 2008

Sex: Quality Over Quantity

We live in a world where the pursuit of happiness, like all else, has been supersized.

You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too much sex, right?

It turns out mother was right when she preached about quality over quantity, even if it wasn't intended as an early education in sexual fulfilment.

Satisfactory sex for couples lasts from three to 13 minutes, not marathon hours, like the popular fantasy many of us buy into, says a survey of Canadian and U.S. sex therapists.

The quest for bigger, faster, harder and longer-lasting keeps us perpetually seeking and unsatisfied, when "good sex" is already happening in most of our beds, says the Penn State Erie researcher who led the survey.

"Men don't need rock-hard penises, and sex doesn't have to last all night long to be good," says Dr. Eric Corty.

"Even 45 minutes is unrealistic, for both men and women. Soreness and lubrication become an issue. So everyone can just relax. The sex they're having is probably adequate."

He's talking about exclusive penis-and-vagina time, not including foreplay or cuddling with your lover afterwards.

The clinical psychiatrist and couples sex therapist queried 50 members of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research on what they considered a normal length of time for sexual intercourse.

The group of psychologists, doctors, social workers and marriage/family therapists, who have collectively seen thousands of patients over several decades, said two minutes for sex was "too short," three to seven minutes was "adequate," seven to 13 minutes was "desirable," and 14 to 30 minutes was "too long."

"It's an interesting concept that sex could last too long. What is too long for Betty and Skip is not long enough for Sally and Bob," says Corty. "But if you talk to most women, 30 to 40 minutes of penetration is too long. They get sore, which results in a loss of arousal."

One-fifth of women report having lubrication problems, and prolonged erections for men -- of an hour or more -- are not healthy anyway, says Corty.

Sex doesn't have to be long-lasting to be good. In fact, duration has nothing to do with it, apart from extreme cases of rapid or delayed ejaculation in men, says a Toronto sex therapist and society member, who gives little weight to Corty's survey.

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