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What does it mean ‘to last longer’?

When people talk about ‘lasting longer’ in bed, they are usually referring to the length of time penetrative sex lasts from the point of entry until climax. This is measured by the time it takes for a man to ejaculate, or ‘come’.

It is very common for men to want to last longer during sex, or even to worry that they ‘come’ too quickly in bed.

Why would I want to last longer?

Wanting to last longer during sex is one of the most common desires people have around sex. This is especially common, for example, in:

  • young men without much sexual experience

  • new relationships, or with a new sexual partner

  • men who don’t have sex regularly

Not lasting long enough is only a problem when it becomes a regular or an extreme thing.

For some men, it can be a medical issue. Premature ejaculation (PE) is when a man ejaculates ‘too quickly’ during sex, and is one of the most common sexual problems in men. However, it’s important to remember that premature ejaculation is only defined as such when the length of time before climax becomes a significant problem for either your or your partner. PE is usually only temporary and there are a number of treatment options available.

With help, most men will learn to identify the point of climax during sex so that they can better control it, and last longer.

How long is ‘normal’?

There is no fixed definition for how long you should or shouldn’t be lasting in bed. A happy and healthy sex life depends on finding a realistic balance between the time both you and your partner want to last before climax.

The NHS Choices website says: ‘A study looking at 500 couples from five different countries found that the average time between a man putting his penis into his partner’s vagina and ejaculation was around five-and-a-half minutes.’

However, the important thing is you and your partner are both sexually satisfied.

Techniques for lasting longer

If you are trying to last longer in bed, there are several things you can try. Here are a list of tips and techniques for both you and your partner. As with anything in sex, dialogue is key: make sure to involve your partner along the way.

For men:

  • Take a break! Try the ‘stop-start’ method: just before you are about to ejaculate, pull out, take a short break and a deep breath before you resume sex.

  • Foreplay is incredibly important for both partners in sex, and can often increase the duration and your enjoyment of it.

  • Try masturbating a couple of hours before you have sex. Regular masturbation is a healthy way to learn about your body, and will help you increase your stamina during sex.

  • Think about something else! It’s an old trick, but doctors still recommend it. Try thinking about something boring during sex to distract yourself.

  • Use extra thick condoms: using condoms and having safe sex is always important, but thick condoms can also be used to reduce sensation during sex and help you last longer.

For both partners:

  • Talk about it. Open and considerate discussion with your partner(s) is the key to enjoying a fulfilling sex life. Communicate your concerns to them, and involve them as much as possible in your desires or needs during sex (for example, lots of people are too shy to ask for the stimulation and foreplay they need before penetrative sex!)

  • Positive and non-judgemental support from a sexual partner can go a long way in helping a person stay relaxed during sex. Staying relaxed is key to reducing performance anxiety if you or your partner is nervous about lasting long enough.

  • Experiment! Be open to new positions or new types of sex. By getting on top, the receiving partner can take control and reduce sensitivity to the tip of the man’s penis. Concentrating on a new position or fantasy can often help if a man is concerned about climaxing too soon.
  • Broaden your definition of sex. Sex is about much, much more than just penetration, and shouldn’t be defined by the male orgasm. Learn to pleasure each other in different ways. 

What medical treatments are available?

If you’ve tried these tips and techniques, and you’re still not lasting as long as you’d like during sex, there are a number of treatment options that could help.

These medical treatment options are only recommended for men who have been diagnosed with premature ejaculation (PE). If you are concerned about how long you’re lasting during sex, discuss your concerns with your local nurse or doctor. They will be able to recommend the most suitable form of treatment for your situation.

Medical treatments might include:

  • Priligy, which is a pill that works by delaying the chemical reaction that causes ejaculation. Priligy can triple the time taken before ejaculation in some men.
  • EMLA, which is a topical anaesthetic cream that works by numbing the nerve endings along the penis in order to reduce sensitivity and prolong sex.
  • Anaesthetic condoms, which work in the same way as EMLA cream. These contain a small amount of local anaesthetic that numbs the penis tip.

  • SSRI medication (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), which is a type of antidepressant that can help to delay penile ejaculation

  • ‘Delay sprays’ are available, which spray a small dosage of local anaesthetic onto the penis in order to reduce sensitivity.

  • Medical treatments should be the final resort for men wanting to last longer in bed, after trying the usual physical tricks and techniques. You should always carefully weigh up the positive benefits and potential side effects of each form of treatment before using them.

When is counselling recommended?

If the length of time you last during sex is a problem for either you or your partner(s), and it’s not being helped by either physical techniques or medical treatments, you might want to try counselling.

Counselling or couples therapy can be very helpful when there is a psychological root cause to your sexual problems. During your sessions, your therapist will be able to help you identify and work on any issues you might have around sex, or any underlying problems in your relationship.

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