Sexual practices and the duration of last heterosexual encounter: findings from the Australian longitudinal study of health and relationships

J Sex Res. 2012;49(5):487-94. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2011.598247. Epub 2011 Jul 28.


This study investigated the association between sexual practices and duration of a sexual encounter. Using data from a population-based computer-assisted telephone survey of 8,656 Australians aged 16 to 64 years, four distinct patterns of sexual practices among respondents were found: "basic sexual encounter" (involving mainly kissing, cuddling, stroking one's partner and being stroked, and vaginal intercourse), "basic sexual encounter plus oral sex," "all assessed sexual practices" (all sexual behaviors included in the survey), and "mainly vaginal intercourse" (characterized by lower levels of kissing, cuddling, and stroking). For both men and women, respondents classified in the basic sexual encounter plus oral sex, and all assessed sexual practices clusters reported significantly longer durations than those in the basic sexual encounter group, whereas respondents in the mainly vaginal intercourse cluster reported shorter durations. These differences were found even after allowing for demographic differences in sexual duration-specifically, age and partner type of the most recent opposite-sex partner. These findings add to the understanding of what typically happens in a sexual encounter. Overall, longer sexual encounters appear to be associated with the inclusion of the least common sexual practices-namely, oral sex and self-stimulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Coitus
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult