OK, here’s a little exercise for people with penises: Imagine your ideal sexual encounter. It could be a long, touch-heavy session or it could be a fast and furious, passion-filled romp. Maybe you’re thinking of a hot fetish scene, or a languid, Sunday morning. Regardless of the scenario, there is likely one aspect of each situation that, in your mind, you have complete control over...

Stamina.

One of the most deeply-rooted sexual beliefs our current sex culture proliferates is that a long time is a good time. When it comes to penetration, that penis better stay hard and pumping until everyone is done and satisfied.

Hold on! Normally, this is where a good sex ed-type piece will say “no, that’s a myth we need to dispel!” Well, in this situation ... that is only half-true. Sexual stamina can be a concern at both ends of the spectrum. And, while it isn't the be-all and end-all that many people think it is, it is definitely a multi-pronged issue that needs some further discussion.

Read: Stamina Training 101

What is sexual stamina?

Basically, sexual stamina is how long you can last in bed. More accurately, in the parlance of our times, sexual stamina usually refers to how long a penis can stay hard before orgasm. To be clear, this doesn’t mean sex has to end just because a penis is done. No way! (You can move on to oral sex or sex toys or all kinds of other fun things!) However, if penetrative sex, with a penis, is your goal, well, a flaccid cock can often put an end to the encounter.

Herein lies our carnal conundrum: how long should a penis last? Is there an optimal duration? Are folks supposed to stay hard and pumping for hours? Do their partners even want that? What if you can’t last longer than a minute? Is a short time an unpleasant time?

Here’s where things get sticky - and the best lube is communication. Mainstream society will tell us that penetrative sex is supposed to last a long time. Whether we’re talking vaginal or anal or oral sex, the “bigger is better” model has taken deep root in our sexual relations. A person with a penis is supposed to be able to hold out until their partner is satisfied and exhausted from multiple orgasms. Then you are allowed to orgasm and then fall into each other’s arms.

OK. But does everybody find this scenario sexy? No. For some, it is not only unappealing, but it could also be uncomfortable and even painful.

On the other hand, some folks do enjoy a long session in the sheets. It works for them. Their bodies do like it.

Let’s also acknowledge that other medical issues, such as erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculations concerns can also be complicating factors.

Sex educator and relationship expert Teela Hudak of Explore Sex Talk reminds us that our bodies, desires and capabilities - and what gets us off - are all different and that is just one factor. “This will vary from partner to partner. It depends on the rest of the sexual interaction as well as the partner's stamina. Each person's sex drive is unique. As a general rule, anyone with a vulva takes much longer to reach orgasm. Once aroused, it can take up to 20 minutes of the right stimulation for them to achieve orgasm. It's also important to note that many people with vulvas can't achieve orgasm from vaginal intercourse - only an estimated 10-12% are able to on a regular basis.”

What is most important is finding that happy medium - the sweet spot of sexual duration that makes everybody happy - whenever possible. Sex can rarely ever be counted with a stopwatch to ensure success, but open talk will ensure neither of you are watching the clock in dread.

“Improving” Sexual Stamina - The Physical Side

Now that you’ve considered each other’s needs and desires, you can really start improving sexual stamina. There are great, fun things you can do alone or with your partner that will give you a better understanding of your sexual self - and how you can best interact together.

Let’s get into some sexual stamina training! As with any activity you jump into, it is important to improve both your physical and emotional skills. These two parts of you work in tandem to produce super-sexy results.

On the physical side of things, one of the best ways to improve penis durability is to take that situation into your own hands - literally. Exploring different masturbation techniques, with your hands, masturbators like the Fleshlight Launch, and breathing techniques, will help you understand your body’s responses.

  • By playing with your hands, you can teach yourself when to speed up and slow down, when to add more pressure, and when to ease off. You have two points of contact (your penis and your hand) that will both send signals your brain. As you touch and stroke your penis, notice which areas are most responsive and which stimuli you are most turned on by. Do you get off on thoughts of sex or by watching porn? Can you pull yourself back from that stimulation to last longer? Can you ease back on your stroking at just the right time? Some folks can also defer orgasm by adding strong pressure at the base of the head as that sensation approaches. Give it a try!

  • Masturbators offer all of the above opportunities to explore sensation, but they take things to a new level by mimicking the pressure and texture of another person. Companies such as Kiiroo and Fleshlight have developed such realistic masturbators that you can simulate a variety of different penetrative sex scenarios (including positions, lubrication, texture, etc.) on your own to see how your body reacts. This can help you learn how to stem the tide of orgasmic delight at just the right moment. (Try the Fleshlight Launch. It's a Fleshlight sleeve powered by Kiiroo's fully automated system that can even connect to interactive erotic content for a very realistic experience.)

    Sex toys can also be a great way to practice edging, where you bring yourself to the brink of orgasm, then pull back. Not only does this feel amazing, but it can also really help improve your sexual control and stamina.

  • Teela Hudak provides another great idea: learning how to control your breatihng: “In the moment, people with penises can increase their stamina using breathing techniques. Controlling and slowing their breathing when they get excited can help ease some of their excitement and allow them to maintain better control. This can lead to delaying their moment of orgasm.”

Before we go any further, let’s remember that these ideas can also be used to speed up your sexual response if you’ve determined that your partner isn’t really into marathon penetration sessions. Just as you learn your body’s responses to slow down, you’ll also learn the triggers that bring you significant pleasure.

Improving Sexual Stamina - The Emotional/Psychological Side

Of course, let’s not forget the emotional and psychological things you can do as part of sexual stamina training. Communication with your partner and understanding both your and their needs are important, but so is a general reframing of the penetrative part of sex.

Our friends at LIFESEXPERTS, a UK-based project offering education in life improvement, suggest that we need to look beyond penetration. “The issue with putting so much emphasis on "penis durability" is that it perpetuates penetrative sex ideals - penis in hole. Sex is more than that, and getting obsessed with penetration or having the simplistic definition of sex as only penetrative activity deprives you of the opportunity to explore the potential of your whole body to give you pleasure.“

That said, sexual stamina training goes far beyond just being better in bed. LIFESEXPERTS note that Improving your performance is a big self-esteem booster. Being able to control your orgasm to a point that satisfies both you and your partner will make you feel like a better lover. Remember, however, that accomplishing this comes from both the physical and emotional work.

The long and short of sexual stamina training comes down to understanding both your and your partner’s bodies and determining how compatible you are. Fortunately, if you are a bit mismatched, there are plenty of other sexy activities, such or sex toy play (or mutual masturbation!) that can supplement your sensual shenanigans. But you’ll only know this with a long ... talk.