April 11th, 2008
10:51 AM ET

Let's talk about sex

By Val Willingham

Medical Producer


I've been reading a lot about sex lately. Not the stuff with nothing-to-the-imagination pictures or racy prose.  I'm talking health studies on sex. It's bad enough that we are bombarded 24/7 with details of Lindsay Lohan's exploits or Madonna's great sex life, but now serious medical journals are taking up the once-taboo topic.


But scientists say sex shouldn't be taboo.  Knowing how people conduct their sex lives is important, they say. It helps us understand that we're probably not so different from the rest of the world.  Just recently an article in a prestigious journal announced that the optimal amount of time for sexual intercourse was three to 13 minutes. (Read more about the study)  Seems therapists looked at 1,500 couples in 2005 and found the median duration was 7.3 minutes.  Women in the study were actually armed with stopwatches.  How romantic.


"There are so many myths in our culture of what other people are doing sexually," says Marianne Brandon, a clinical psychologist and director of Wellminds Wellbodies in Annapolis, Maryland. "Most people's sex lives are not as exciting as other people think they are."


Therapists I've talked to say your sex life is like your fingerprint.  No two are the same.  What works for some doesn't work for others. We spend so much time worrying about measuring up to Heidi Klum or Matthew McConaughey that we miss the moment. Analyzing sex and putting it under a microscope, to me, just takes the fun and passion out of it.


I realize sex studies will continue.  But wouldn't it be nice if the money they put into this kind of research could go to finding the cure for breast, prostate or cervical cancer?    Who cares if you go three minutes or three hours? If you wake up smiling, that's all that counts.  Put the stopwatches away, and get down to some real research.


What do you think? 


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.