Put down the weights and grab a hamburger: Researchers in Turkey have finished a yearlong study that correlated body mass index with male sexual performance. Their findings may surprise you: Heavier men were able to make love for an average of 7.3 minutes, while slender men lasted an average of 108 seconds. The study, published in Nature, showed overweight men had higher levels of the female estradiol hormone, which blocks male hormones and delays the climax.
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Plus, a look at 15 other factors that influence staying power.
1. For 16 percent of men and 12 percent of women, the average sexual encounter lasts two hours or more.
But for the vast majority, it's way less than half that. "Duration of sexual encounters has to do with a number of factors," says sex educator Logan Levkoff, author of Third Base Ain't What It Used to Be: What Your Kids Are Learning About Sex Today and How to Teach Them to Become Sexually Healthy Adults. She lists the top three factors: "Endurance, or lack thereof; the type of relationship the individuals have—Is it just based on sex? Is quality more important than quantity?—and physical issues such as erectile dysfunction and vaginal dryness."
Gary Langer et al. (2004): The American Sex Survey: A Peek Beneath the Sheets. ABC News Primetime Live Poll.
2. Sixteen-to-24-year-olds last twice as long as people aged 55 and up.
The Durex condom company commisioned a worldwide study of sexual behaviors. When averaged out among the 26 countries surveyed, the younger group lasts 24 minutes, while the older group lasts only 12. Granted, the trouble with researching the durations of sexual encounters is that nearly all of the data is self-reported, which creates built-in problems with its accuracy.
Carl Latkin et al. (2008): The Durex Sexual Wellbeing Global Survey
3. 25.9 percent of women who never finished high school spend an average of 15 minutes or less per sexual encounter, whereas only 3.2 percent of divorced and/or separated and/or widowed men spend an average of 15 minutes or less per sexual encounter.
One major study examined the lengths of time that people in many different categories spend on the average sexual session, including foreplay. Women who haven't finished high school comprised the largest percentage of those who only spend 15 minutes per session, while divorced/separated/widowed men comprised the smallest percentage of short-timers.
Brazilians spend the longest average time on each sexual session: 30 minutes.
4. Miami residents last 40 percent longer than Phoenix residents.
It's not the heat, it's the humidity. According to a study commissioned by Trojan Brand condoms, Miamians spend an average of 35 minutes per session, topping all of the other cities surveyed. New Yorkers spend an average of 29 minutes per session, Atlantans spend an average of 28, and Phoenix residents are the nation's quickest at 25 minutes.
Trojan's Degrees of Pleasure Study (2010)
5. 38 percent of unmarried men who have never cohabited spend an hour or more per sexual encounter, on average, whereas only 7.8 percent of married women spend an hour or more per sexual encounter.
And only 9.3 married men spend an hour or longer. In other words, married folks spend one-fourth the time in the sack than their single, not-living-together counterparts. The authors of the study that yielded these findings define 15 minutes or less as "shorter sexual encounters" and an hour-plus as "extended sexual encounters." That's a nice way of putting it.
6. 12 percent of men claim that smoking marijuana improves their sexual performance, including duration.
The author of the study that includes this stat warns: "However, with high-dose use or 'getting stoned,' most enhancements of the sexual experience are lost because cannabis intoxication causes sedation and mental impairment, which interfere with sexual attention and performance." According to Levkoff, "There may be a perception that marijuana increases duration, probably because it takes longer to become erect and to climax. Perhaps the greater question is: Are the partners of these men who smoke marijuana satisfied with the men's sexual performance? Is it simply perception rather than reality? But marijuana can lower our inhibitions so that we engage in sex more and worry less about all of our hangups. "
John Mulcahy, editor. Male Sexual Function: A Guide to Clinical Management. New York: Humana, 2001, p. 180.
7. Brazilians last three times as long as Thais.
According to medical doctor and World Health Organization policy adviser Judith Mackay, who studied sexual behavior around the globe, Brazilians spend the longest average time on each sexual session: 30 minutes. According to Mackay's research, Thais—the world's quickest—do it for 10.
8. Americans last more than twice as long as Russians.
According to Mackay's Penguin Atlas of Human Sexual Behavior, sexual encounters in the United States, Canada, and the U.K. last 28, 23, and 21 minutes on average, respectively. In Russia, they last only 12. "This most universal experience comes complete with an array of international similarities and some surprising differences from country to country," Mackay writes. But "researching sex on a worldwide, comparable basis is not easy. There is no central depository for global sex information," and "sex research, where it exists, is usually fertility-related, rather than sex-orientated."
9. Obese men are 48 percent less likely to be premature ejaculators than are men with normal body mass indexes.
In a study of men conducted in Turkey and published in the forebodingly titled International Journal of Impotence Research, only 8.7 percent of those who were premature ejaculators were obese, compared to 34.6 percent of overweight men and 56.7 percent of normal-weight men. The study's authors conjecture that a key factor driving this finding might be increased estrogen levels in obese men.
A. Gökçe and Ekmekcioglu, O. (2010): Insight on pathogenesis of lifelong premature ejaculation: Investigating the relationship between lifelong premature ejaculation and obesity. International Journal of Impotence Research 22, 251-254.
10. 25 percent of African-American men and 21.5 percent of African-American women spend an hour or more on each sexual session.
That's compared to 19.4 percent of white men and 13.5 percent of white women, and 15.9 percent of Hispanic men and 15.6 percent of Hispanic women.
11. Houstonites last the exact same amount of time as Seattleites, San Franciscans, Chicagoans, and Minneapolis/St. Paulians.
According to the Trojan study, residents of all four of these major metropolitan areas spend an average of 27 minutes per sexual session.
Trojan's Degrees of Pleasure Study (2010)
12. 22.3 percent of men who have attended (but not necessarily graduated from) college spend an hour or more on the average sexual encounter, as do 16.1 of their female counterparts.
Those who have attended college do it the longest: Only 8.1 percent of men who have attended college and only 12.3 percent of women who have attended college spend 15 minutes or less on the average sexual encounter. In general, the less education you have, the more likely you are to engage in sexual acts averaging 15 minutes or less, ranging from 25.9 percent of women lacking high-school degrees down to 8.4 percent of women with advanced degrees.
13. 26.3 percent of men affiliated with no religion and 20.2 percent of women affiliated with no religion spend an hour or more on the average sexual encounter.
That's compared with 18.8 percent of Protestant men and 14.4 percent of Protestant women, and 18.6 percent of Catholic men and 15.8 percent of Catholic women. "Religiosity can certainly affect our sexuality," Levkoff says. "Does it cause us to feel guilty about sex, making us less likely to enjoy it or spend time on it? Does the religion we ascribe to make sex just for procreation?"
14. Premajure-ejaculation sufferers who are spritzed with a drug known as PSD502 can last six times longer than premature-ejaculation sufferers who are spritzed with a placebo.
First introduced in Europe several years ago, PSD502 (aka TEMPE) is a combination of two drugs, lidocaine and prilocaine. Both are anesthetics, which means that—applied via aerosol spray five minutes before intercourse begins—they have a numbing effect on the penis. According to the researchers who conducted this study, 30 to 40 percent of men suffer from premature ejaculation at some point in their lives.
Wallace Dinsmore et al. (2009): PSD502 inproves ejaculatory latency, control and sexual satisfaction when applied topically 5 minutes before intercourse in men with premature ejaculation: results of a phase III, multicentre, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. British Journal of Urology International, 103 (7), 940-949.
15. Americans last twice as long as Italians.
According to The Penguin Atlas of Human Sexual Behavior, Americans last on average 28 minutes, while South Africans last 19 minutes, Germans last 17 minutes, the French last 16 minutes, Poles last 15 minutes, and Italians last 14 minutes. Even the Italians outlast Hong Kongers, if just by a minute.
Anneli Rufus is the author of many books, including Party of One: The Loners' Manifesto and the Nautilus Award-winning Stuck: Why We Don't (or Won't) Move On, and the coauthor of still more, including Weird Europe and The Scavengers' Manifesto. In 2006, she won a Society of Professional Journalists award for criticism.