The popular penis-numbing product gets a once-over.
Image: Kitron Neuschatz
Sometimes you have a sex question that's not just, you know, an idle passing thought. And in those times you need a real answer—one that's based on deep research and scientific rigor. In those times you need Hard Data.
How long does the typical guy last in bed? Scientists in search of the answer gave stopwatches to hundreds of straight men and discovered that—from penetration until orgasm—the average was just under five-and-a-half minutes.
To a lot of guys (and their partners), that's not nearly long enough. In a study in which couples were asked to estimate their ideal sexual duration, the average response for men was 18 minutes. For women, it was 14 minutes.
For all of these guys who aren't satisfied with their sexual stamina, is there anything they can do to keep going, and going, and going before coming? There's no shortage of products on the market that promise to do this, with so-called "delay sprays" being among the most popular. These are products that aim to temporarily reduce penile sensitivity in order to increase the length of time it takes to reach orgasm.
In the last couple of years, delay sprays have taken off in a major way. In fact, they're now so popular that a quick search on Amazon alone yields nearly 300 hits. Among the more provocatively named sprays: "Do Me Long and Hard," "Stud 100," and "Fuck Forever."
The big question hanging over all of these products, though, is whether they actually deliver. Until recently, that's been hard to say, since almost none of them had been subject to scientific testing to see whether they live up to their bold claims (although European research has provided hints of their potential). But luckily, a study published this year, led by sex researcher Kristen Mark and sex therapist Ian Kerner, took a long, hard look at one of the most popular sprays on the market. Their findings suggest that delay sprays not only have the potential to increase men's sexual stamina, but also to improve the sexual experience for both partners.
Mark and Kerner conducted a clinical trial of one specific delay spray, Promescent, a lidocaine-based product that's sprayed on the penis about 10 minutes before sex. Ninety-one men completed the trial, most of whom were heterosexual and aged 40 on average. They were instructed to start with three sprays (each of which contained about 10mg of lidocaine), but adjust to the desired level with usage.
All of these guys had subjective premature ejaculation (PE), meaning they didn't technically have PE but felt they weren't lasting long enough and were bothered by this. For reference, PE is usually defined as ejaculating in less than one minute, sometimes before penetration even occurs. Guys in this study reported lasting more than six minutes without the spray, which means they had totally normal sexual stamina (recall that average is 5.5 minutes).
All of these men were given samples of Promescent and were asked to use the product every other time they had sex over a two-week period. Each day of the study, participants completed an online survey about their sexual experiences.
Over the two weeks of the study, guys estimated that they lasted 6.8 minutes on average on days they weren't using the delay spray. However, on days they used it, they lasted significantly longer: 11.2 minutes, a 65 percent increase.
Use of the delay spray was linked to a higher likelihood of both partners reaching orgasm, too. Without it, both partners had an orgasm just 44 percent of the time; this jumped to 66 percent with the spray.
The vast majority of men (72 percent) said that the product had a positive impact on their sex lives, and most (58 percent) said it didn't interrupt their sexual experience either.
Overall, these findings tell us that delay sprays can indeed increase sexual stamina and, further, that they can potentially improve sex for everyone by increasing the odds of mutual orgasm.
Although all of this sounds really promising, there are a few important caveats. For one thing, only one delay spray was tested in this trial. As a result, we can't say how well the hundreds of other sprays on the market work—or whether they work at all. Not all of them have the same active ingredient as the one tested here, and even if you just look at other lidocaine-based products, you'll see differences in how concentrated they are.
Plus, although most guys responded positively to the spray used in this study, a sizeable minority (13 percent) said it negatively impacted sex. Unfortunately, the authors didn't go into detail about what this amounted to, but this tells us that delay sprays aren't for everyone. If you find that they don't work for you, or you just aren't comfortable with the idea of desensitizing your penis in the first place, other self-help options include Kegel exercises and the stop-start technique.
With all of that said, for guys who are distressed about their sexual stamina, this new research suggests that delay sprays may be worth considering. However, before taking the plunge, take a step back and recognize that, when it comes to sexual stamina, odds are that you're normal and that you probably shouldn't feel inadequate.
It's also worth reexamining your reasons for wanting to last longer in bed. For instance, is it because you simply want to "measure up" to guys in porn? If so, you have a perception problem. Remember that porn sex isn't real sex and, also, that if you set your expectations way too high, you'll never be satisfied. However, if you desire more stamina because, say, longer penetration helps your partner reach orgasm, then you've got a good reason to explore your options.