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Does Duration of Sexual Foreplay Matter?

Does duration of sexual foreplay matter?

Sex therapists (and sex participants) have been telling men for years that to please a woman he needs to warm her up before taking her for a ride--especially if his ejector seat is on a hair trigger. He should at least check the fluids first, right? New research published in the January issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine calls that advice into question.

The researchers, Petr Weiss and Stuart Brody, asked 2360 Czech women how consistently they had an orgasm when with a partner, the average amount of time spent on foreplay, and the average amount of time spent on penile-vaginal intercourse.

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Turns out, sex time was correlated with orgasm consistency, but foreplay time was not. The results held even after excluding women who said they were with literal minutemen (these guys may have had problems with premature ejaculation.)

Among all the women, the average reported foreplay duration was 15.4 minutes, and the average intercourse duration 16.2 minutes, significantly higher than has been reported in American samples. The authors write: "It could be that this reflects, on average, a greater appreciation of intercourse and sensuality by Europeans than by Americans." Oh? Is that why Europe is the only continent with a population drop from 2000 to 2005?

How large were the effects? Moderate. Brody sent me their numbers and I put together a little chart (below). Of the women who report average intercourse length of 1 to 10 minutes, 50% had an orgasm most of the time and 28% had them in a minority of cases or never. For women who report 11 to 20 minutes, the numbers are 62% and 22%, and for the women who boink more than 20 minutes they're 72% and 13%. On word of this research, I would not buy stock in Trojan Ultra Thins.

Another interesting stat: Of the women who report that intercourse usually lasts only 1-5 minutes, fully two thirds said they come with their partner at least about half the time, and 19.4% said they come "almost every time." But the survey didn't distinguish whether they came during intercourse or during some other part of the endeavor.  

Of course the big O is not the be-all and end-all of playtime. Journey versus destination, etc. And even if you never get to where you're headed, or even hop in the car, there's nothing like staying in and getting lost on a long, scenic jaunt together on a Sunday afternoon.

 Maybe I should move to Europe.

[Update: From a comment on Gawker: "These are exactly the kind of math problems I do in my head to extend intercourse."]

 

Weiss, P., & Brody, S. (2009). Women's Partnered Orgasm Consistency Is Associated with Greater Duration of Penile-Vaginal Intercourse but Not of Foreplay Journal of Sexual Medicine, 6 (1), 135-141 DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2008.01041.x

Matthew Hutson is a science journalist in New York City.

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