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Why Foreplay?

Generally guys tend to want to skip over foreplay to get straight to sex. If, for instance, you're a guy and you try to go straight to intercourse, first of all you're going to have physical problems. The vagina has erectile tissue (like the penis) which needs to fill with blood to accommodate penetration. Otherwise penetration will be difficult and uncomfortable. Without foreplay her vagina won't have secreted any natural lubricant either, making penetration difficult, painful and possibly causing small tears in the vaginal tissue. - Not good. On top of all this is the emotional readiness. If you try go straight from watching football to intercourse, you'll probably fail. Women like a lot of talking, mood setting and tenderness before sex. This gets her mind (the most important sexual organ, its often said) ready as well as her body.

Why is it so important?
Because women take longer to achieve orgasm than men. A man's sexual responses are like a lightbulb: you turn it on, and it goes from cold to hot almost instantly, When you turn it off, it cools right away. But a woman's responses are more like an iron: you turn it on, wait for it to heat up, then wait ages for it to cool. Technically speaking, there's some evidence to suggest that women's sexual responses in themselves aren't any slower than men's - it's just that women need more foreplay because it's harder for them to orgasm through intercourse alone.

Is it my fault may partner takes so long to become aroused?
Women generally do take longer to become aroused, but here's a sobering thought: women can climax in minutes when they masturbate.

Is it just women who need foreplay?
No. Not only is foreplay important for establishing intimacy and understanding, it's essential for good, strong erections.

Many men also find that prolonged foreplay enhances their orgasm. And the older a man gets, the more important foreplay becomes to his sexual performance. Men need a lot more direct genital stimulation as they get older to achieve the kind of erections they did in their youth.

How long should it last?

Only you and your partner can tell. It could be ten minutes, it could be two hours. But in one sex study 709 nurses said that, on average, they liked about 17 minutes of foreplay. That may seem a long time, but the rewards are rich. And who are we to doubt the word of nurses?

How do I know if it's working?
Just in case you don't recognise the signals by now (or you're 15 and have eluded our censor controls), here are the unmistakable signs that your foreplay is succeeding... look for the signs:

Erect nipples
Flushed cheeks
Heavy breathing
Firm clitoris
Moist vagina
Large grin

The trick is knowing how to use them to cultivate the skills of a great lover. Begin your quest by reading our guide to men's foreplay - then get her to read our pages dedicated to women's foreplay.

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