Ask Dr. Justin Lehmiller

Coral contributor, Kinsey Institute Research Fellow and internationally-recognized sex educator answers some user-submitted questions.

I was wondering why it takes longer for a person with a vagina to orgasm than a person with a penis when it comes to intercourse or foreplay. At times I will feel bad about how long it takes me to finish compared to my partner even when I know I shouldn’t.
Research has found that, on average, men tend to reach orgasm faster than women.
Specifically, for men, the average is between five and six minutes, whereas for women it’s more like 13-14 minutes. However, there is a lot of individual variability, so don’t fret if you happen to be different from average. This doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with you or with your body. Also, avoid putting pressure on yourself to orgasm because that has a tendency to only delay orgasm further, or to prevent it from happening at all.
There’s a lot we don’t yet understand about why orgasm timing is so variable from person to person, but until we learn more, the key thing to focus on is establishing orgasm compatibility with your partner. So, for example, if your partner is at about five minutes but you’re closer to 20, the goal is to figure out how to close that gap.
Some partners make this work by extending the amount of time spent on foreplay before moving on to intercourse. The partner who usually takes longer to orgasm can use extended foreplay as an opportunity to build up arousal and get close before intercourse happens, which can increase the odds of both partners orgasming around the same time.
Alternatively (or in addition to extended foreplay) some couples experiment with different sexual positions, because that can potentially decrease the length of time to orgasm. For example, if a woman is on top of her partner, that’s likely to provide more direct clitoral stimulation during intercourse, which can facilitate orgasm. Similar effects can be achieved by incorporating sex toys or manually stimulating the clitoris. Most women report that vaginal penetration alone is not sufficient to reach orgasm, which is why finding ways to increase clitoral stimulation is important.
A few other things that can help to close the gap are improving sexual communication (telling your partner what you want and what feels good in order to ensure effective stimulation), trying new sexual activities (novelty tends to boost arousal), and practicing mindfulness exercises (learning how to get out of your head during sex can make it easier to orgasm).
My boyfriend and I have been together almost two years and have lived together the same amount of time, and we haven’t had sex in almost eight months. I am a very sexual person and he’s not. He swears it has nothing to do with me and that he’s just stressed with work. I’m constantly bringing it up, which he says makes him even less in the mood and puts pressure on him, but I feel like I’m the only one trying to resolve the issue. His idea of relaxing after work is drinking whiskey and playing video games up until the time he goes to bed, which leaves zero time for us to be intimate. He only wants to have sex at night and only in bed. How do I end this drought?

What you’re experiencing sounds like a sexual desire discrepancy, which occurs when couples don’t agree on how much sex (or what type of sex) to have. This is actually one of the most common relationship problems, but, fortunately, it can usually be addressed. There are several things you can potentially try in order to get back on the same sexual wavelength, but both of you have to be invested in order to make it work.
As a starting point, it can be helpful to sit down and have a calm, extended conversation about what you both want from your sex life and try to identify the roadblocks to making it happen. It’s important not to make this conversation about blame and confrontation; instead, the goal should be listening, understanding and communicating without judgment. Use this as an opportunity to learn more about why your partner doesn’t feel much sexual desire right now. Is it just about work-related stress? Or are there other factors that need to be addressed? For example, are there other areas of conflict in the relationship? Are you both getting what you want out of sex? Is there a health or medical issue impacting sexual performance?
Once you’ve figured out the roadblocks, it’s a matter of working through them. Different strategies work for different people, but one thing that many couples in this situation find to be helpful is to schedule sex. I know it might sound unsexy to plan sex, but that doesn’t have to take the fun out of it! The advantage of planning sex is that you both have time to build up anticipation and ensure that you’re in the right mindset.
So, for example, if sex is on the calendar for Friday night, maybe there’s a rule about turning off work email, staying off of your devices and spending some time relaxing together first, perhaps by having a drink, a long dinner or giving each other massages. The goal is to allow time for the stress of the day to dissipate, especially given that this sounds like a major issue on your partner’s end. Independently, he might also want to explore some stress-management techniques in his everyday life beyond drinking and video games, whether that’s exercise, meditation or something else. Stress is one of the biggest factors that dampens libido, so it’s important to find productive and healthy ways to address it.  
Something else that many couples find to be helpful is to incorporate more non-sexual touch into their everyday relationships. Touch is a powerful way of feeling and staying connected, and it can help to spark more sexual desire. This is why sensate focus exercises (which involve increasing non-sexual touch) are among the most commonly prescribed activities by sex therapists. In fact, many couples find that increasing touch and communication alone is enough to solve their sexual problems without the need for more intensive solutions.
If you can’t seem to find a way to make it work and the problem persists, however, it would be worth consulting with a sex therapist to get a treatment plan tailored to your unique circumstances and relationship.
Can your vagina get wider over time or can it get wider from penetrative sex?
In a word, no. This is a common myth.
The vagina naturally expands during sex, which means that “looseness” is actually just a sign of arousal. Afterwards, it contracts to its normal state. However, the “normal” state for a given vagina varies from person to person. Keep in mind that vaginas, like penises, have a lot of natural variation in size.
There is simply no evidence that sexual activity itself permanently changes the size of the vagina. However, it can change in response to other factors. For instance, both age and childbirth via vaginal delivery have been linked to changes in vaginal tightness/looseness.
That said, for a vagina owner who is concerned about “looseness,” there is a potential remedy: Kegel exercises. These exercises can tighten the vagina by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, or the muscles that surround the vagina.

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