Science doesn’t lie: women need 19 minutes of foreplay

Yes, there are those rare occasions when you and your lover go from cold to very, very hot in 60 seconds, but let’s be real – rushing is rarely a good idea if you really want to get the juices flowing. So if you want mind-blowing sex, let’s get you acquainted with the anatomy of arousal.

How long should sex last?

The question of how long sex should last versus how long it actually lasts is fraught with pressure.

Do men and women differ on how long they want it?

Do you set a timer to keep track?

Do you always have to get frisky for 60 minutes if you’ve decided that’s the optimum?

And when we’re talking sex do we just mean penetration, or is kissing and stroking included?

Whatever the difficulties re, length, we can all at least agree that, for epic sex, both parties need to be really turned on to enjoy it fully. Thankfully the latest scientific research has proven how much foreplay women want to get really into it.

What’s interesting is that, according to a study in the Journal of Sexual Research, both men and women hope to engage in foreplay for the same amount of time. (So those cliches about men rushing through sex to get to an orgasm aren’t so accurate after all.)

Both sexes say they want about 20 minutes of foreplay before getting down and dirty with any kind of penetration — and yet, most report that actual foreplay only lasts about half that time.

The problem with foreplay

When it comes to foreplay, what most people commonly think of is everything you do before intercourse. Kissing, caressing, oral sex, fingering, spanking, humping, dirty talk, massages, or telling them you love their poetry, foreplay is generally considered everything that happens before penetration.

This is a problem. “Foreplay” implies the appetiser before the main (inter)course. It implies linear lovemaking: first A, then B, then intercourse, followed (hopefully) by orgasm, and then sex is over.

Which makes for a pretty vanilla sex life. After all, sex isn’t all about a ‘main event’ of penetration or orgasm. And this way of thinking is pretty heteronormative. For instance, some LGBTQ couples don’t engage in penetration and consider other things like oral sex as the main event. Therefore, calling oral sex “foreplay” isn’t a particularly inclusive way of looking at sex.

Whatever your gender or sexual orientation, P in V is not the be-all and end-all.

The anatomy of arousal

First of all, let’s ditch the term ‘foreplay’ altogether and think of it instead as ‘sex play’ i.e. the activities that are most likely to build up arousal, however they culminate.

The biggest sex organ in the body is the brain

John Bancroft, PhD, senior researcher and former director of the Kinsey Institute, has studied how arousal develops, and his research pinpoints something important: We need to be aware of our own arousal before we can really feel aroused.

“In the male, sexual arousal is typically associated with some degree of penile erection. The man will become aware of this, and focus his attention on the idea of his penis being stimulated,” Dr. Bancroft told Bustle recently. But, in women, the equivalent — the stiffening of the clitoris — isn’t nearly as noticeable, and “typically the woman is less aware of her genital response unless her genitals are touched.”

Mind-blowing fact alert! It takes more for women to even realise that they’re becoming sexually aroused than for men.

The sexiest route to arousal

Stimulating ALL the senses is sure to jumpstart arousal. We’re not just talking sensual touch – though all that licking, sucking stroking, nibbling and caressing is HOT – but sensual thoughts and images too.  

Reading erotica, watching pornography, fantasising about an erotic scenario, or even just thinking about sex all trigger a response in the brain — which contribute to feelings of arousal.

Dr. Sadie Allison, Ph.D., author of Mystery of the Undercover Clitoris says, “Simply talking with a lover in a loving, sexy way can cause a man to become erect, or a woman to become moist.”

In the bedroom as in life, often simple is best: if you want to turn it up to 100, try some good, old fashioned communication to hotwire a deep connection.

Eye-to-eye contact, and open, honest sharing of your desires are great arousal jump-starters.

Arousal is all about shedding inhibitions and opening yourself emotionally can help you get into the right headspace to feel turned on.  

We are an excitingly exclusive matchmaking service for the wild at heart. Whatever your gender or sexual preference, join us.

tailor matched newsletter

Tailor Matched newsletter

Don't be a stranger

Want to read more from us? Sign up to our newsletter now - you'll also be the first to hear about our orgasmic events and exclusive offers.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

tailor matched love favours the bold