The rubbing, touching, kissing, and talking before sex that is foreplay is as vital to good sex as actual intercourse itself . It helps relax both of you, get you in the mood, boosts your libidos, and gets blood flowing to the requisite erogenous zones that light up before and during sex. Do it right, and you'll prime your partner for an incredible orgasm . So, like a light jog is integrated into your run or heating up the grill is part of the cooking process, foreplay needs to be an integrated part of your sex life. That's why we asked sex and relationship experts for their best advice and foreplay tips for making the most of perhaps the most important part of sex. Sex therapists and psychiatrists offered their foreplay wisdom that help women get turned on for sex, and bring you closer in the process. Try one, or two, or all of the foreplay tips below the next time you start fooling around. The time spent focusing on her body and feeling before penetration pays dividends in her pleasure, and yours, once the big final act happens.

1. The precoital massage

As a warmup to the main event, start by massaging the length of her legs, from her upper thighs down to her ankles.

Next, focus on the feet, kneading her heels and all other points beneath. Then zero in on the toes and stretch them individually. Bonus points if you finish it off by sucking on them.

2. Ask what turns her on

When in doubt, just come right out and ask what she likes during sex. Most women appreciate men who want to make sure theyre satisfied, says Barbara Bartlik, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at Cornell University. If she notices youre working hard to please her, shell be more likely to return the favor.

3. Focus on quality, not quantity

Improve the quality of foreplay and shell never again bug you about the quantity. If you act as if youre just going through the motions to get to the sex, shes going to notice, and it will take longer for her to get excited, says Michael Perry, Ph.D., a sex therapist in Encino, California.

In other words, do what you want to do, and enjoy it while you're doing it. If you like how her calves feel, stroke them in appreciation. If you like her butt, kiss it. When a man is loving what hes doing, its going to show through and turn her on, too, says Perry.

4. Take it easy at first

Yes, the clitoris is the obvious place to focus your attention. Still, many men do wrong by it. Direct stimulation of the clitoris can actually be painful, says Cathy Winks, author of The Good Vibrations Guide to the G-spot. Its much better to rub the clitoral hood [where the tops of the labia meet] or to rub along the side of the clitoris than it is to go straight for the head of it.

When playing with the clitoris during oral sex , Birchs advice is to focus on the clitoris, then dont focus on the clitoris."

"The clitoris reacts best to being teased, so you want to lick it and suck on it a little, build a little tension, then back off on it a bit before going at it again," she adds.

5. Expand your repertoire

There are plenty of ways to expand your oral sex repertoire, and you should always be looking to add new moves and mix things up. For starters, trying lying perpendicular to her body and stroking her clitoris with your tongue in a horizontal motion, rather than up and down. Shell appreciate the change in stimulation, hopefully enough to return the favor.

6. Drive her wild with the figure-8 technique

The figure-8 tongue technique is one of the most tried and true ways to get things going below the belt. When youre at her service down below, work the supersensitive area around her clitoris in a figure-8 pattern. Arouse her with gentle sucking until the little button swells, then carefully expose the area with your fingers.

Use the slippery underside of your tongue to circle it to the left and then to the right. With the rougher top side of the tongue, flick from right to left and then up and down. Finally, work up to figure 8s, alternating between your tongue's smooth underside and firmer tip. Constantly vary the degrees of pressure you use.

7. Don't overlook the labia

Oft overlooked as mere barriers to the vagina, the labia are packed with nerve endings and shouldn't be ignored. Hold each one between your thumb and forefinger and massage it, working your way up and down.

Or, using all of your fingers and your palm, smoosh the labia together, almost like youre (gently!) kneading dough.

8. Explore her entire body

Don't just zero in on her genitals. The body is filled with erogenous zones like her neck, thighs, and breasts.

Genitals are fascinating and fun, but try to spend some time focusing on your partners entire body instead of going straight for her crotch, says Cassie Fuller, cofounder of Baltimore sex-ed company Touch Of Flavor. Try caressing, licking, or nibbling other erogenous zones, such as her neck, back, ears, belly, or wrists.

9. Try a toy

A vibrator buzzing around her erogenous zones can be just as stimulating, if not more, than your hands alone. Bring one in for the assist during foreplay, touching her everywhere but her vagina with it. Try one of MH's Best Sex Toys of the Year , The Le Wand Massager.

10. Don't talk too much

Be careful what you say when you're trying to set the mood and build arousal.

Weird, clichd phrases can cause the mood to die quickly, she April Masini of As a general rule, keep dirty talk simple and personal: Pick a body part and tell her how sexy you think it is, or describe a fantasy you have involving her."

Then again, don't zip your lips altogether. Women want mental stimulation, says Ian Kerner, Ph.D., author of She Comes First.

11. Pay attention to how she feels

Everybody is different, so make sure you're able to read how she responds to what you're doing. It shouldn't be hard to tell what's working, and to then use this information to keep a good thing going.

If she winces when you talk dirty, move onto your next play, says Masini. Or if shes really into making out on the sofa, dont try to move it to the bedroom.

12. Pay attention to how you feel

If youre worried about getting off too early during intercourse, try becoming more aware of your pre-orgasmic sensations.

Most men only recognize that last, no-turning-back feeling, that occurs just before ejaculation, says David Copeland, author of How to Succeed with Women. By then its too late to do anything about it.

Try to become familiar with the two or three more subtle sensations that precede that one, so that you can slow down at the right time.

13. Don't forget about kissing

Don't forget what got you here in the first place.

Women get their greatest erotic pleasure from frequent, passionate kissing, says Patti Britton, Ph.D., clinical sexologist, and author of The Art of Sex Coaching: Expanding Your Practice. If you get the sense that shes starting to lose interest, kissing is always the best way to bring her back into it.

Just remember that passionate kissing doesnt always mean frantically swabbing out her tonsils. Try to mix up your tongue play with the occasional closed-mouth kiss on her nose, eyes, and forehead.

14. Reward her bravery

When she initiates the action, make an extra effort to please her sexually and to let her know how much you approve. Tell her you loved how she got things going. Sometimes women wonder if youre going to perceive initiation as negative or if it might make you uncomfortable.

15. Know when to skip it

If you already have good sexual chemistry, it's perfectly all right to occasionally skip foreplay.

When youve been creating a larger sexual context in your relationship, youre basically operating in that [state of foreplay] all the time, says psychologist and relationship therapist Tracy Thomas, Ph.D. "If youve been together for a while, you should know her well enough to know when its okay to jump straight to the main event.