How Long Should Foreplay Last? Men & Women Actually Agree On This One, Study Finds

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

As many women already know, foreplay is super important. Great foreplay can not only heighten arousal and amp up your sex life in the best possible ways, but it can also bring you closer to your partner. But how long should foreplay last?

"For men and women, any type of foreplay that involves touching and showing shared caring intimacy helps with the release of oxytocin and other 'love' hormones," Dr. Steve McGough, associate professor of clinical sexology and director of research and development at Women and Couples Wellness, tells Bustle. According to him, these hormones both enhance the sexual experience, increase intimacy, and help reduce the effects of cortisol and other stress hormones. So clearly, foreplay is beneficial for everyone.

A 2004 study published in the Journal of Sex Research conducted a study of 152 heterosexual couples on the amount of time they spent engaging in foreplay and intercourse, as well as the amount of time they wish they were. Despite a common belief that men aren't too into foreplay, this study proves otherwise. In fact, both men and women say they want foreplay to last about the same amount of time at 18 and 19 minutes. But as research found, foreplay typically lasts about 11 minutes for women and 13 minutes for men. So it's not too bad, but could be better. “Foreplay is the most important part of the sexual act for women," Saketh Guntupalli, gynecologic oncologist at UC Health and co-author of Sex and Cancer tells Bustle. "During foreplay, we release hormones that arouse our desire for an intimate connection. That heightened desire can intensify our satisfaction."

And ho doesn't want intensified pleasure? So if you're looking for ways to make foreplay better or to make it last even longer, here are some expert-given tips and tricks you should know:

1Focus On The Three Most Sensitive Parts Of Your Body

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Three super sensitive parts of a woman’s body are her lips, nipples, and clitoris, with the clitoris containing an amazing eight thousand nerve endings, Guntupalli says. "There is an obvious practical reason why a human being’s hands are sensitive, but the only reason these other three areas are so receptive to sensation is pleasure," he says. "We are designed for pleasure. Finding out what stimulates you or your partner might involve conversation and experimentation for the foreplay to be successful for both of you.”

2Start Outside Of The Bedroom

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"Foreplay doesn’t have to be solely restricted to the bedroom," Rori Sassoon, relationship expert and CEO and Co-Founder of premier matchmaking service Platinum Poire tells Bustle. So send a sexy message or two to your partner while you’re both at work or going about your daily routines.

"A whole day of anticipation can build up some seriously fun sexual tension," she says.

3Don't Be Afraid Of Dirty Talk

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Don't be afraid to talk and walk your partner through the details of what you like in sexy manner. "This can be beneficial to both of you, getting your partner to do what you know turns you on while giving a little dirty talk is a total win-win," Sassoon says.

4Take The Time To Undress Slowly

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Take your time and undress your partner slowly. Allow them to feel your skin touch theirs while you take off their clothing piece by piece. "It’s a huge turn-on to see the anticipation in your partner's eyes," she says.

5Make Your Hands Your Best Friends

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Don’t feel weird introducing lube or heated oils to the bedroom. Pouring a little on the body before fully indulging can be very sexy. Everyone loves massages, Sassoon says, so start with the back and work your way down, exploring every part your partner's body.

6Use Your Senses

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"Pick either sight, sound, taste, touch, or smell, and try modifying your usual approach to see what your partner may enjoy," Shadeen Francis, MFT, a marriage and family therapist specializing in sex therapy and social justice tells Bustle.

For example, with sight you could try blindfolding your partner, stimulating one another by candlelight, or increasing your eye contact and watching them as they experience pleasure. For touch, try different textures or pressure of touch. Do they prefer your touch to be light and soft like a feather, or firm like a massage or a spanking? Figure it out and go for it!

7Eroticize The Setting

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"The brain is the largest sex organ," Kelli Young, sex therapist and developer of the bee2gether vibe tells Bustle. "It’s difficult for your body to become turned on if your brain isn’t." So, set the stage for a sexy good time. That could mean lighting candles, turning up the sexy music, putting on your favorite perfume, or playing out an erotic fantasy. The possibilities are endless. "Use your imagination," Young says.

8Communicate

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"Let your partner know what feels good so that he or she can do more of it," Young says. That means use your words, make those appreciative noises and gestures, and guide your partner in how you like to be pleasured.  "Constructive feedback is important," she says. "But be sure to avoid harsh criticisms—that’s a real buzzkill!"

So foreplay can do some good for everyone. Since most of us would like to be doing it for about 20 minutes, hopefully these tips can help you prolong your foreplay for at least five minutes longer.