The Art Of Sexual Foreplay

Have you and your honey been neglecting pre-sex play? Here are new ways to ensure you don’t forget about foreplay.


“Quickies” certainly have their time and place, but couples who continuously skip foreplay are passing up a great way to get emotionally and physically warmed up for sex.

Physiologically, experts agree that foreplay is an important part of sexual health. In fact, a recent Australian study found that the majority of women are more aroused by the idea of foreplay than sex itself.

Shrugging off foreplay? Here’s why — and how — you should start getting friskier, sooner.

How Foreplay Makes Sex Better

“Foreplay is crucial for good sex. It’s not just an old wives’ tale that foreplay is something that people should spend more time doing,” says Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH, associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, in Bloomington.

“When a woman’s body becomes aroused, the muscles actually pull the uterus up a little bit, and it makes more room in the vagina,” says Dr. Herbenick.

This process, called vaginal tenting, creates more space, which makes sex more comfortable and more pleasurable. “If this doesn’t happen, sex can become more uncomfortable,” she says.

Doing anything that’s sexually exciting or arousing helps a woman to lubricate, which in turn helps a man get and maintain an erection.

Herbenick says that when a man is having difficulty achieving orgasm, he may find it easier if he and his partner have engaged in foreplay before sex.

Foreplay can also help a couple feel closer and more intimate, and ultimately both partners feel more aroused and excited, says Herbenick.

Foreplay is really “about building an emotional connection and getting some excitement going,” she says. Kissing is an important part of foreplay to help stimulate all of those physical and emotional responses.

Fantasies or dirty talk can also help get the physical sexual response going. Couples who are aroused by a little dirty talk or have a certain sexual fantasy can incorporate that into foreplay.

Foreplay Suggestions

There is no good or bad method of foreplay, and you don’t have to spend hours cuddling, stroking, and kissing before you can move on to sex. A few minutes of foreplay may be all you need.

“Foreplay should last at least 10 minutes to give people’s bodies enough time to warm up,” Herbenick suggests. What’s important is to “focus on the stomach and inner thighs and breasts and kissing, but not to dive in too quickly to the genitals,” says Herbenick.

To get your minds and bodies warmed up for sex, try these suggestions for foreplay:

  • Play a game. Have fun with cards, dice, and other sex games that offer tips and rules on what to do to each other.
  • Talk dirty. Say what you’re feeling, what you want your partner to do, and what you’re thinking.
  • Be together. You can dance together or shower together, but touch, hold, and enjoy.
  • Use oils and flavored products on the skin. Give each other back, foot, or full body massages with an oil or lotion. Pour chocolate, whipped cream, or other tasty delights on your partner’s skin, and take your time licking it off.
  • Touch each other. Caress your partner’s face, run your fingers through the hair, gently tickle the insides of the arms, the stomach, and the thighs. Rub against each other or lightly tickle — whatever feels good.

Figuring Out Foreplay

You can’t know what your partner likes and wants during foreplay if you don’t talk about it. “People don’t spend enough time just talking to each other when they’re not having sex,” says Herbenick.

So, ask your partner questions about how they want to be touched, stroked, kissed, and caressed, but talk about it outside of the bedroom.

“Getting very specific information about how they want their bodies touched when they’re in foreplay is very helpful, but it’s easier to have those conversations when you’re not about to have sex,” says Herbenick.

Foreplay can help keep partners connected physically and emotionally, and make for even better sex. Foreplay should help you both be more comfortable and get more pleasure out of sex, so figure out what’s the most fun and effective foreplay in your bedroom.

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