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How Long Does It Take Women to Climax During Intercourse?

If they do, times vary. But most women don't have orgasms during intercourse.

Sex researchers have long been fascinated by women’s orgasms, but only a few studies have explored how long it takes women to climax. Recently, Indian investigators added to this small literature. What they found was ironic. Forget time to orgasm. The large majority of their participants never climaxed during intercourse.

This finding corroborates a large body of research showing that for women’s erotic fulfillment, two things hardly matter—the size of men’s erections and how long intercourse lasts. Female orgasms usually result from a combination of at least 20 minutes of direct, gentle, extended massage—by hand, tongue, or sex toy—of women’s whole bodies followed by caresses focused on the genitals, especially on the visible clitoris.

The Study

The Indian-led research team recruited 645 women, age 21 to 40, all involved in stable heterosexual relationships on average for seven years. Participants hailed from 20 countries, including India, Belgium, Malaysia, the U.K., the U.S., and the Netherlands. Two-thirds were married, one-third cohabitating.

The investigators asked the women to make love as usual, with one change. When they felt sufficiently warmed up to proceed from other play to intercourse, the researchers asked them to start their cell phone stopwatches and time how long it took them to work up to orgasm.

For those able to come during intercourse, it took six to 20 minutes, an average of 14 minutes.

But the study’s main finding rendered its time-to-orgasm focus largely irrelevant. Two-thirds of the women—69 percent— never climaxed solely from intercourse. This finding had nothing to do with the women’s age, education, income, marital status, relationship duration, or frequency of intercourse. During the eight-week study, two out of three did not orgasm during intercourse with their partners, period.

However, most were able to climax with their partners if, in addition to intercourse, the lovemaking included (in descending order):

  • Extended non-genital caressing of the women from head to toe, especially the feet.
  • Extended caressing and licking of the clitoris.
  • Extended breast play with nipple sucking.
  • Anal fingering.
  • Light spanking.

In addition, the women were significantly more likely to climax in two intercourse positions, woman-on-top and rear entry (doggie), both of which easily allows for all of the above.

The researchers concluded, “The women in our study reached orgasm more frequently with non-penetrative activities.”

The Penis: Less Important to Women’s Orgasms Than Most Men Think

Moist, relaxed, receptive vaginas are pleasure wonderlands for men and their erections. But the vagina has surprisingly little to do with most women’s orgasms. Gentlemen, if you’d like women to have orgasms with you:

  • Slow the pace. It takes most women at least 20 minutes of kissing, cuddling, and whole-body—that is, non-genital—head to toe massage to feel comfortable with you reaching between their legs or attempting intercourse. Give women all the warm-up time they need. If you make love with music playing, before you touch her genitals, kiss and caress her all over for five or six standard-length songs. There’s an added benefit for men—receiving extended whole-body massage yourself helps prevent premature ejaculation.
  • Use a lubricant. Many women self-lubricate well, some copiously, some more than they'd like. But many perfectly normal women don’t produce much self-lubrication. In that case, use saliva on your hand, or saliva during cunnilingus, or use lubricant. This is not just for women who don’t get very wet. Many who do also enjoy it.
  • Your fingers should do more. In a great deal of porn, when men touch women’s genitals, they spend most of their time touching the vagina, often like a machine gun. Most women say they enjoy sex much more when men gently fondle their vaginal lips (vulvas). Gentlemen, don’t assume you know what women like. Ask for coaching. That shows caring that many women find arousing. The embryonic cells that become the vaginal lips in women become the scrotum in men. She probably enjoys having her vaginal lips caressed as much as you like having your scrotum fondled. If you touch the vagina, unless women specifically request otherwise, move slowly and gently. Ask for coaching.
  • It’s about the clitoris. Women are lucky. They have humanity’s only organ solely devoted to pleasure. Use your lubricated fingers, and perhaps sex toys, but especially use your lips and tongue. Most women say their surest route to orgasm involves patient, extended oral sex. Ask for coaching to provide what your lover likes.
  • Super-sensitive. Many women’s clitorises are so sensitive to touch that direct fondling and licking feel too intense. Ask your sweetie to coach you about what she finds most enjoyable. Check in to make sure you’re providing pleasure, not causing discomfort. Ask, “Is this okay? Want anything different?”
  • Be patient. It takes many perfectly normal women a while to climax—in the Indian study, up to 20 minutes. Be patient. If they don’t come quickly, some women fear their lovers may get bored or fatigued. That anxiety can interfere with women’s erotic focus, impeding their orgasms. Reassure partners they can take all the time they need, that you love pleasing them, and are not about to become bored nor fatigued.
  • Minority pleasures. In the study, anal fingering and spanking helped many women work up to orgasm. If women enjoy this, great. But both are minority pleasures. Don’t expect women to be into them. Before you attempt them, ask about openness to playing that way. If partners would rather not, respect their wishes.

References

For more on the male-female orgasm gap, see my previous post “Why So Many Women Don’t Have Orgasms.”

For additional suggestions about helping women have orgasms during partner lovemaking, read my post, “Six Ways to Help Her Have Orgasms.”

If you’d like to increase her chances of coming during intercourse, read my post on the “Coital Alignment Technique.”

For women who feel orgasm-challenged, vibrators often help. See my post, “Vibrators: Myths Vs. Truth.”

Penis size and how long men last in bed have little to do with women’s ability to come, but both are key to many men’s sexual self-esteem. Read my previous posts, “The Rare Truth About Penis Size,” and “The Best Way to Cure Premature Ejaculation.”

Finally, for all of this information and much more, check out my new book Sizzling Sex for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Maximize Erotic Pleasure at Any Age.

Bhat, GS and A Shastry. “Time to Orgasm in Women in a Monogamous Stable Heterosexual Relationship,” Journal of Sexual Medicine (2020) 17:749.

Laumann, EO et al, “Sexual Dysfunction Among Older Adults: Prevalence and Risk Factors From a Nationally Representative US Probability Sample of Men and Women 57-85 Years of Age,” Journal of Sexual Medicine (2008) 5:2300.

Laumann, EO et al, “Sexual Dysfunction in the United States: Prevalence and Predictors,” Journal of the American Medical Association (1999) 281:537.

Rowland, DL et al. “Orgasmic Latency and Related Parameters in Women During Partnered and Masturbatory Sex,” Journal of Sexual Medicine (2018) 15:1463.

Willis, M. et al. “Are Women’s Orgasms Hindered by Phallocentric Imperatives?” Archives of Sexual Behavior (2018) 47:1565.

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