sex

The key to great sex lies in timing, apparently.

Image: No Strings Attached

Timing plays an important role in many aspects of life, from dating and career promotions to having children and moving house. So it only makes sense it would also come into play where sex is concerned — only we don’t always realise this.

When sex-related issues or misunderstandings come along, it’s easy to assume the old ‘men are from Mars, women are from Venus’ philosophy has something to do with it; that inherently, we experience and desire sex differently from the opposite sex (in heterosexual couplings, at least).

RELATED: The 3 modern sex ‘rules’ we all need to stop following.

However, as Elite Daily points out, it’s more likely the difference lies in the duration of foreplay and intercourse we’re all wanting — not the desire of sex itself. And research goes some way in supporting this. (Post continues after gallery.)

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In a 2014 study, 152 couples were asked to report their “actual and ideal duration” of foreplay and intercourse, as well as what they expected their partner to desire.

If we had to make a prediction, we’d have suspected women would ideally want longer foreplay than their male partners; alas, there was no major difference between the sexes in this respect.

RELATED: Why the most-asked question about sex is the hardest to answer.

This is a happy development, because foreplay is important for women in particular. As Dr Nikki Goldstein told The Glow, proper stimulation through foreplay tells a woman’s brain to create more space for a penis to enter the body — without that, intercourse can be incredibly painful.

Evidently it's not how much you want it - it's how much of it you want.

"There is a tilting of the uterus – it comes a bit straighter up on top of the vaginal canal, because it needs to take in sperm, and creates a little more room in the vaginal canal. There’s also a secretion that occurs to allow a penis to go in and out without hurting us,” Dr Goldstein explained.

Interesting, the women in the study underestimated the duration of foreplay and intercourse their male partners desired — so don't make the mistake of assuming your partner wants to hurry along the foreplay stage to get to the big event.

RELATED: The ridiculously simple trick that could help you orgasm during sex.

As for intercourse, men reported a "significantly longer ideal duration" than their female counterparts, which is interesting as it's widely believed women require a higher duration of intercourse than men in order to reach an orgasm.

In a 2009 Czech study, the length of sex time correlated with orgasm consistency. For women who reported an intercourse time of one to 10 minutes, half of them had an orgasm most of the time. This figure jumped to 62 per cent for 11 to 20 minute sessions, and for women who had intercourse that lasted longer than 20 minutes, 72 per cent had orgasms most of the time. (Post continues after video.)

As with anything, personal preference plays a huge role when it comes to sex; although the findings above suggests longer intercourse time is beneficial for women, they might not be what they actually enjoy.

A 2012 Durex survey of 1000 adults found 50 per cent were unhappy with the duration of intercourse they were experiencing. The average duration of sexual encounters was 10 minutes, with 38 per cent of respondents saying this was over too fast. One fifth of the respondents said they wanted sex to last for at least half an hour; however, 25 per cent said a 10 minute quickie was their preference. How's that for a mixed bag?

RELATED: We investigate the many lies pop culture has been telling us about sex.

This all goes to prove what we already know: a mutually satisfying sex life is complex, and requires open communication about exactly what each partner wants: how often they want to have sex, as well as the duration they're after.

Do you have a preference when it comes to the duration of sex?

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