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Study of Long Lasting Lovers
Study of Long Lasting Lovers
Posted on Mon, Jul. 25, 2005
Carnal Knowledge | Men are low on list of long-lasting lovers
By Faye Flam
Inquirer Staff Writer
Today the average human male can stay engaged in sexual intercourse for 5 to 7 minutes. For better or worse, the advent of the new premature-ejaculation drug dapoxetine could bring that up to about 20.
But even if that happens, human beings won't break any endurance records.
When it comes to copulation time, "days and hours are not exceptional," says evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson, author of Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation. Butterflies, snakes and houseflies can all take hours, she said.
The current record holder is the stick insect, says John Alcock, an evolutionary biologist from the University of Arizona. Stick insect sex "can go on for several months," he said. It's not clear that this is welcome to the female.
The male stick insect plants himself on the female's back and attaches himself there. Luckily for her, the male is about half her size. While clearly encumbered, she can still go about her business.
For many species, Alcock said, "both sexes are quite capable of getting food while they are mating."
Judson says the clinginess of the male stick insect reflects not so much ardor as possessiveness. Males may have evolved the propensity to stay in conjugal attachment for so long because it keeps other males away from the female they've chosen. That way a male can be sure that only his sperm will fertilize her eggs.
Some animals also mate for extended periods because they transfer more than just sperm to the female during sex. Male houseflies inject females with a drug that causes them to lose interest in sex, making them less likely to mate with other males.
Some species of tick spend about eight hours on what looks like foreplay, said Judson. This might have something to do with removal of sperm left by a rival - another common reason sex can last hours or days.
In other species, the sex act has to stimulate the female to ovulate. "Maybe it's a kind of test," said Judson, allowing females to get impregnated only by the males "strong enough to get through all this rigmarole."
Who has the record for the shortest duration? No one knows, said Judson, though humans are down near the low end. Still, our sex acts go on longer than those of our closest relatives, the chimpanzees. Male chimps last less than a minute. Females deal with this by moving on - quickly. Scientists have observed female chimps mating with as many as eight different males in 15 minutes.
Scientists from Utrecht University in the Netherlands recently found a wide variation among human beings as well. They gave 500 men from five different countries stopwatches and asked them to time the duration of their performance.
The average was 5.4 minutes, but the men ranged from 30 seconds to 45 minutes. Though the sample may not have been large enough to draw any conclusions about nationality, the British men won for most enduring lovers with an average time of 7.6 minutes. Americans came in a close second with 7 minutes even.
The American Urological Association reports that an astonishing 27 percent to 34 percent of men suffer from premature ejaculation, which is the target of the drug dapoxetine. With such a prevalent condition to treat, this new drug promises to be a bigger blockbuster than Viagra.
People vary in how long both partners want sex to last, and therefore the medical community now defines premature ejaculation as anything short enough to cause "distress and embarrassment to one or both partners."
One person who probably shouldn't take this drug is British rocker Sting, who has reportedly boasted of a seven-hour session of "tantric sex." Since he's probably harder to haul around than a male stick insect, we can only hope his wife picked up some snacks from the fridge ahead of time.