Just what do I know about making foreplay hotter, sexier and, hell, last longer? As a busy, 40-something working mom, I'm not exactly your go-to person for this kind of advice. Dr. Ava Cadell, on the other hand, more than fills the bill. In fact, the former actress and Playboy Channel host found her calling as a sex therapist through her viewers. "I received hundreds of fan letters asking me for sex advice," she says. "They thought that a 'sex symbol' would automatically be a sexpert." So Dr. Cadell went back to school and got a doctorate from San Francisco's Institute for Advanced Study in Human Sexuality. I sought the guidance of Dr. Cadell and other researchers on the NSFW subject of better foreplay.   

I'm not alone in my interest. A recent American Journal of Medicine study of women aged 40 and over found that sexual satisfaction increases with age -- so much so that 67 percent of the ladies studied said they almost always achieve orgasm. You see, a passionate sex life at any age starts with amazing foreplay. "The biggest hurdle for many people is that they think foreplay takes too long and they don’t want to invest their time in something that might not result in orgasm," says Dr. Cadell. I figure if I can find the time, anyone can.

Toss your excuses aside and check out these reasons to put in the XXX-tra effort!

But… I already know what my partner likes. Rutgers University researchers beg to differ, claiming that until 2011, they hadn’t mapped out how a woman gets turned on. Their revolutionary finding: Stimulating a woman's nipples excites her brain in the same way touching her clitoris does. So take extra time with this scientifically proven erogenous zone.

But… I don’t want to get too freaky. Chances are, if you pull out a sex toy the next time you’re in the mood, you and your partner will be pleasantly, and pleasurably, surprised with the result. According to the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, sex toys are no longer taboo objects to use together in the bedroom. In fact, most of the nearly 3,000 Americans surveyed in an Indiana University study said they'd used a vibrator in foreplay at some point.

But… my partner might get grossed out. Academics from the Netherlands say that when women are sexually aroused, they're less likely to feel disgusted by stuff that would normally gross them out. It seems the state of lust plays tricks on the mind, making a woman more open to engaging in things that she’d so nix if she wasn’t naked.

But… it takes too long. "Some men have no idea what foreplay means, so they're programmed to just go for the quickie," says Dr. Cadell. But a little more time spent touching, massaging and caressing actually helps dudes with their performance. A 2012 Archives of Sexual Behavior study found that when men skipped the foreplay of groping, licking and what have you, the odds they'd be unable to climax themselves were 2.4 times greater.

But… I’m too embarrassed to bring up ideas to my partner. "Many people hope their partners can read their minds, but then they have mediocre sex," notes Dr. Cadell. In fact, a hot convo about sex can be a turn-on, according to the authors of a Journal of Integrated Social Sciences report. Both men and women rated erotic conversations to be just as satisfying as actually making out, or even oral sex. Cadell isn’t surprised by that finding: "Foreplay is a connection between two people mentally, physically, emotionally that leads to a sexual connection," she says.  

But… I don’t want throat cancer. Did Hollywood icon Michael Douglas really have to go there about going down? The 68-year-old star blamed his recent battle with throat cancer on performing cunnilingus on someone who had the human papilloma virus (HPV). Medical opinion is mixed; some doctors believe that oral sex does raise the risk of throat cancer for partners of people with HPV, but others disagree. As Dr. Gypsyamber D'Souza from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health put it, "HPV infection is common and most individuals do not get cancer." Also, for the record, Douglas was a longtime smoker. So, um, yeah.

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