Lasting longer in bed can prolong pleasure and give a person a greater sense of control. Being able to continue sexual activities for longer periods may help all parties have satisfactory sex and achieve orgasm.

A 2020 study suggests that the average female in a monogamous heterosexual relationship needs 13.41 minutes to orgasm from penile-vaginal intercourse. In contrast, a 2005 study found that the average heterosexual male needs just 5.4 minutes to ejaculate. For many, certain techniques may make it easier to last longer in bed.

In this article, we will discuss a few different methods that people can try to last longer in bed.

Two people embracing in bed. They are using cuddling and intimacy to last longer in bed.Share on Pinterest
Image credit: Martin Novak / Getty Images.

Definitions of premature ejaculation vary. The American Urological Association consider premature ejaculation to be any time a person ejaculates earlier than they or their partner would like. Other organizations assign specific time frames.

For example, the International Society of Sexual Medicine suggest that ejaculating in 3 minutes or less may qualify as premature ejaculation. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) gives a shorter time frame of about 1 minute.

The length of time is less important than how ejaculation affects the relationship. If a person ejaculates so early that it causes distress or makes sex difficult, it warrants treatment. Even when a person’s ejaculation time frame is within the normal range, they may still wish to last longer.

Medication may help with premature ejaculation, but doctors usually only prescribe drugs when other treatments have failed.

A group of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can change sexual function and make it more difficult to orgasm. In this way, SSRIs may help delay ejaculation and allow a person to last longer.

Erectile dysfunction drugs, such as sildenafil (Viagra), can help a person retain their erection after they ejaculate. As a result, they may be able to continue having intercourse with a partner, even after an orgasm.

Anything that decreases the sensitivity of the penis may help a person delay ejaculation. Some doctors may recommend numbing creams or sprays.

Typically, people can apply the cream or spray to the head of the penis 20–30 minutes before sexual penetration. They should then rinse the product off 5–10 minutes before sex so that the numbing agent does not prevent an erection or cause their partner to experience vaginal or anal numbness. Using a condom may help by further dulling sensation.

Some people may find that foreplay gives them a chance to extend sexual activity. These individuals can pleasure and satisfy their partner without the worry of ejaculating early.

In a sample of 1,055 females who completed a confidential survey in the United States, only 18.4% said that penile-vaginal intercourse alone was sufficient for orgasm. In total, 36.6% reported that clitoral stimulation was necessary for orgasm during intercourse.

In a survey in the United Kingdom, 83.2% of the 1,250 female participants noted that clitoral stimulation was necessary for them to reach orgasm.

Therefore, people may find it helpful to incorporate oral sex or manual stimulation into their sexual activities, particularly if penetrative sex is unlikely to last long enough for all parties to achieve orgasm.

Sex toys give a person with premature ejaculation a different way to practice controlling their orgasm. They can try masturbating with sex toys alone, then stopping stimulation right before orgasming. After waiting for a few moments, they should try again.

Sex toys can also increase the pleasure of a partner, especially if it is impossible to have penetration long enough for them to orgasm. For female partners, a person can try stimulating the clitoris during intercourse, then using a vibrator or other sex toy to help them orgasm.

Various sexual techniques can help a person delay ejaculation. When a person consistently practices them, these techniques can work very well and progressively increase the duration of sex.

  • Squeeze method: Using this method, a person (or their partner) stimulates the penis until they are very close to ejaculating. Then, they tightly squeeze the penis without stimulating, causing the erection to weaken slightly. It is safe to repeat this technique many times.
  • Stop-start method: Similar to the squeeze method, this exercise involves a person (or their partner) stimulating the penis until they are near ejaculation. Then, the person stops stimulation until the urge decreases. They should repeat this three times and then ejaculate on the fourth time.
  • Deep breathing: Some people find that deep breathing helps them refocus their mind and better control their erection. They can try slowing down stimulation and breathing slowly and deeply as ejaculation nears.
  • Visualization: Visualization exercises can help reduce some of the intensity of the experience, potentially delaying ejaculation. A person may find it helpful to visualize something unrelated to sex or focus on picturing the penis remaining hard.

Psychotherapy can help a person identify any underlying psychological causes of their premature ejaculation, such as anxiety. A therapist can also recommend personalized exercises to delay ejaculation and prolong sexual activity.

Many couples find that attending sex counseling sessions together helps with premature ejaculation. The right therapist can ease both partner’s fears about the effects of early ejaculation and recommend shared activities to make sex more enjoyable.

Biofeedback uses electrical information to help a person retrain their body to delay ejaculation. Over time, a person learns to control the urge to have an orgasm. In most cases, a person does biofeedback in a doctor’s or physical therapist’s office.

During each session, the healthcare provider may use a probe to measure sensations during masturbation or other forms of stimulation. Then, they instruct the client to do exercises, visualization, or other techniques to delay ejaculation during stimulation.

Pelvic floor exercises can strengthen the muscles that support the bladder and enable ejaculation. When urinating, a person can tense and stop the flow for 5–10 seconds, then start urinating again. By repeating this several times each day, they should build up to longer holds.

Some people find that pelvic floor physical therapy offers significant relief. A physical therapist will diagnose any problems with the pelvic floor muscles before recommending at-home exercises to strengthen these muscles. Over time, this may prolong sex and improve bladder control.

A healthful lifestyle may improve a person’s sexual function. A 2020 study notes that both physical factors, such as obesity, smoking, and substance abuse, and psychosocial factors, such as stress, anxiety, and depression, can harm sexual function.

Taking the following steps may help a person achieve a more satisfying sex life:

  • avoiding recreational drugs
  • quitting smoking, if a smoker
  • moderating alcohol intake
  • exercising regularly
  • following a balanced diet
  • using stress management strategies, such as meditation, yoga, and mindfulness

A person can try many techniques and methods to last longer in bed. These can involve adopting a healthful lifestyle or incorporating foreplay, sex toys, or new sexual techniques into sexual activities.

However, if premature ejaculation continues and begins to cause distress or make sex difficult, it is advisable for a person to see a doctor for help. If necessary, the doctor can make a referral to a urologist or sex therapist.