7 Basic Sex Stats Most Guys Don’t Know, Explored
Ever thought about sex? If you’re most people, yes. You’ve probably spent a lot of time fantasizing about it, and you’ve probably spent some time worrying about it, too — wondering things like, “Am I normal?” or “Am I good in bed?”
But despite all the time people spend thinking about sex, they often know relatively little about it. That’s due in no small part to the lack of comprehensive sex education in our culture, and the prevalence of misinformation that takes its place.
The upshot of this is lots of guys go through their lives not knowing some basic sexual facts. AskMen spoke to a handful of sex experts and educators to explore some basic knowledge we think you (and every guy) should have. Here’s what they had to say:
What the Average Penis Size Is
“The average penis size is much smaller than what we see in porn,” says SKYN Condoms’ sex and intimacy expert and author Gigi Engle. “It’s between 5.1 and 5.5 inches. I think this is really important to understand because we have an obsession in society with big penises and this can cause a lot of shame around your body and sex life.”
It makes sense that porn videos show performers with larger-than-normal penises. After all, porn is entertainment; movies typically show us extra-beautiful people, and action movies star guys with way more muscles than your average Joe.
But when underaged people watch porn when they’re young as a form of sexual education — a very common reality in the streaming era — they can mistake an extreme depiction for a snapshot of what’s normal.
When Guys Have Sex for the First Time, on Average
Lots of guys experience serious sexual anxiety over feeling like they’re late bloomers, and the rush to get laid as fast as possible is a common feature in depictions of teenage culture. No one wants to be the last one to experience sex, and the headlong rush into sexual intimacy, regardless of whether you’re ready for it or not, can be daunting — and harmful.
That’s why it’s useful to remember that the average age that people lose their virginity is 17 years old. Not only does that mean you’re not behind schedule if you haven’t until your mid to late teens, it also means that lots of people are having first-time sex in their 20s, balanced out by those early beginners
How Many Sexual Partners an Average Guy Has in His Life
Whether you call it “your number” or a “body count,” how many people someone has slept with is a question lots of people care about.
They might see a high number as indicative of someone’s sexual prowess and attractiveness on the one hand, or of their being “easy” or “ran through” on the other hand; a low number may be indicative of someone who’s “frigid” or simply unattractive. It can feel like a lose-lose situation, especially for women, who are often “slut-shamed” for the same things we praise men for.
But with all that praise going around, what’s the actual average? Of course, no one can know for sure, since the statistics are based on self-reporting, which tends to bring about people fudging the numbers a bit.
But, looking at a variety of studies and surveys, it seems like anything in the range of 4 to 8 sexual partners in your life is exceedingly normal.
How Long Sex Lasts, on Average
Here too, porn can cause people to have unrealistic expectations. If you’ve seen any full-length porn videos of half an hour where the star keeps going and going for more than half the run-time without climaxing until the very end, you might feel that that’s the norm.
But, as before, it’s more an exaggeration for entertainment purposes than a reflection of what actually happens in the bedrooms of the world.
“The average time it takes a person to ejaculate from start to finish is about 5.5 minutes,” says Engle. “This is important because a lot of people think they suffer from [premature ejaculation], when really it’s just the average.”
“If this is something that stresses you out, don’t go right for penis stimulation and focus on other sex acts like oral sex or hand sex with the focus on your partner, so that you can both experience more pleasure.”
How Likely Women Are to Climax From PiV Sex
Speaking of how long it takes people to climax, consider this data:
“On average, it takes a woman 20 minutes to have an orgasm — and men 3 to 5 minutes,” says sex educator Debra Laino.
Notice a bit of a disparity between those two numbers? It has consequences — the consequences in part being the existence of the infamous “orgasm gap.”
When hetero sex happens, the man is much more likely to cum than the woman. In part that’s a timing thing — penis-in-vagina sex is often over before she’s ready. But in part it’s also about the action going on inside of the vagina and not on the much more sensitive clitoris.
As Jess O’Reilly, Ph.D., host of the @SexWithDrJess Podcast, points out, “The vast majority of women don’t consistently orgasm from penile-vaginal penetration alone.
“Though the data varies from study to study, here are a few important findings from a study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior:
- Women report that they have an orgasm 31-40% of the time during intercourse.
- But if they add external stimulation to intercourse (e.g. simultaneous rubbing of the clitoris with hands or a vibrator), this increases to 51-60%.
- When researchers asked specifically about “unassisted intercourse” with no additional clitoral stimulation from hands or a vibrator), orgasm prevalence drops to 21-30%.”
The takeaway, O’Reilly says, is to “use your hands or toys to play externally during intercourse to increase the likelihood of orgasm.”
How Much Semen an Average Ejaculation Contains
Like penis size and the duration of sex, porn might have you believing otherwise, but the average ejaculation does not actually contain very much semen at all.
Studies reliably show that it’s in the range of 2 to 5 ml, or roughly half a teaspoon to one teaspoon. So if you’re worrying that you’re not shooting enough when you climax, you can put those worries to bed — there’s no need to struggle to increase your semen volume.
(That being said, if you really like how it looks and you want to see a big, sticky explosion when you cum, the best way to do that is to abstain from orgasming for long periods of time between climaxes.)
How Many People Have STIs
A surprising number of people have herpes, Engle notes: 67%, or two-thirds of the population.
Herpes, which Engle notes can be spread orally as well as genitally, “isn’t on a normal STI panel screening. Meaning that the vast majority of people don’t know if they have herpes. It’s only tested for if the doctor suspects an active outbreak with sores present.”
On the subject of people having a sexually transmitted infection but not knowing it, O’Reilly adds that “one study of over 1,600 participants, for example, estimated that 77% of chlamydia cases were never symptomatic and therefore 95% of cases go untreated.”
The bottom line? O’Reilly says “The CDC estimates that on any given day 20% of the US population has an STI.”
That’s one-fifth. So if your number of past partners is five or higher, there’s a darn good chance one of them had an STI.
“Given the long term costs of untreated STIs (e.g. infertility, cardiovascular and neurological issues, higher risk of some cancers), getting tested is your best defense to ensure that you get treated and reduce the risk of complications,” O’Reilly notes. “STIs are treatable and many (e.g. chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea) are curable with simple antibiotics.”
“We need to break the stigma that holds people back from getting tested,” she concludes. “We’ve created a culture of shame in which we’re more afraid of a positive diagnosis and a few pills than we are of long-term health consequences. The more we talk about STIs, safer sex and testing, the more likely we’ll be to get tested, treated and enjoy more pleasure.”
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