Foreplay prepares the body for sex through emotional and physical activity, which results in heightened sexual desire and arousal.
Sexual foreplay helps to elevate the sexual drive of a man and a woman toward more pleasurable sex and even stronger orgasms.

Not only does sexual foreplay work to prepare your body and mind for sex, but it also helps to elevate your sexual drive.

As a fundamental part of intimacy, sexual foreplay serves many valuable purposes — not only for ourselves but for the connection and sexual chemistry shared with someone else.

This handy guide highlights common myths, misconceptions, and the benefits of sexual foreplay, hopefully leading to longer-lasting, more pleasurable sex and even stronger orgasm.

In this article:

Note: Read the whole article or scroll down to the KEY TAKEAWAYS section at the end of this article for a short summary.

What is Foreplay?

Foreplay (sexual foreplay) is an act of emotional energy and physical touch to build sexual tension and desire before intercourse.

Many consider sexual foreplay the immediate physical act before sexual intercourse. But the foreplay can start long before the physical intimacy — more on this in a moment!

ALSO READ: Top 12 Foreplay Ideas

The Importance of Foreplay

Sometimes known as "outercourse", foreplay is essential for sexual activity—like warming up your muscles before a workout. Foreplay helps to get your body and mind in the mood for intimacy.

foreplay is essential for sexual activity—like warming up your muscles before a workout.

Emotional Stimulation

During foreplay, the physical closeness or emotional connection you're sharing with another person can help release feel-good hormones known as oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin.

The relationship between sex and the brain is very similar to this. When we become intimate during foreplay, this "chemical cocktail" lowers cortisol levels and increases feelings of bonding, affection and euphoria.

Physical Stimulation

For our physical experience, foreplay puts us in a state of arousal by increasing our heart rate, pulse and blood pressure. As the passion heightens, our blood flow moves downward into our genitals, causing the labia, clitoris, and penis to swell up.

ALSO READ: How to Last Longer in Bed: 13 Actionable Tips for Men

Myths and Misconceptions About Foreplay

Before we go further into what foreplay is, let's look at what foreplay is not, with the most common myths and misconceptions.

Foreplay is only helpful if you're having sex

Foreplay should not be considered the appetizer before the main meal, sex. The best foreplay doesn't need to precede sex.

Instead, it can be the sexy eye contact with your partner during dinner or the slow and sensual kiss before you go to work.

Foreplay is the same as oral sex

Although oral sex is a type of foreplay, they do not mean the same thing.

Surprising to many, foreplay does not need to involve the genitals to cause arousal. It can be an effective way to arouse an erection or stimulate vaginal lubrication.

Some other great methods of foreplay can include back massages, sexting, kissing and teasing.

Foreplay should only last a few minutes

This one is one of the more common myths about foreplay. While it is normal for many people to use it to prepare for sex, there is no rule to say foreplay should only last "x" minutes.

Depending on how you and your partner are feeling at the moment. What feels pleasurable and whether or not you're even in the mood to push forward to having sex. Plus, men and women differ in their needs which can play a role in the duration of foreplay — more on this in a moment!

Foreplay is not just about our bodies

Foreplay is a very personal endeavor. What may be pleasurable and arousing for one person may not be for another, and that's ok!

The great thing about foreplay is that it is not specific to our physical bodies. Instead, foreplay can incorporate talking, teasing, texting, eye contact, and more.

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The Benefits of Foreplay

Not only is foreplay exciting and pleasurable, but it's also beneficial for both partners!

When it comes to "doing it" sexual arousal plays an essential role in the pleasure both men and women will receive during sex.

Foreplay is especially beneficial for mature adults to help enhance arousal. For example, women entering menopause may be experiencing symptoms of vaginal dryness, making it particularly challenging to have sex with their partner comfortably.

Different foreplay techniques can help improve these symptoms and drive up sexual libido!

ALSO READ: Sex Positions to Help Men Last Longer

How Men and Women Differ

Foreplay serves a physical and emotional purpose. Although many men enjoy it, they don't necessarily "need" it to achieve the same level of arousal.

On the other hand, women desire a little more tender love and care for their sexual needs. For many women, kissing, caressing and even light whispering of dirty talk into their ear can stimulate vaginal lubrication to help make sex more enjoyable.

Another meaningful difference between men and women regarding foreplay is women's need to experience more "build-up" to stimulate an orgasm.

Since men can achieve orgasm more often during sex, foreplay helps bridge this gap and assist women in climaxing much more easily.

Building Tension Can Be a Good Thing

Unlike the tension you experience from stress from a long work week, sexual tension can also be exhilarating.

Rather than feeling a little aroused and jumping straight into bed, foreplay allows you and your partner to explore different avenues of pleasure.

Here are the two common forms of pleasure that excite our minds and bodies.

Anticipatory pleasure: this involves looking forward to the experience of pleasure.

Consummatory pleasure is the experience of pleasure while you're in the moment.

For sex, foreplay is the anticipatory pleasure that helps build sexual tension and prepares our minds and bodies for what's to come.

A great way to build up this tension is through teasing. One of the sexiest forms of teasing is sharing a passionate kiss before going out into public.

The deep desire to want more will wash over both as you experience this anticipatory pleasure.

ALSO READ: Sex Tips for Women: 15 Handy Tips on How to Be Better in Bed

Engaging All the Senses

Our senses are a unique superpower to help us understand and experience the world around us — why not use all 5 of them to our advantage in a sexual setting?


Since colors relate to different emotional states, research has explored the link between red and passion.

Perhaps some sexy red lingerie will be the thing to get you and your partner in the mood. Some other great ways to play with foreplay using your sight are watching an erotic film or giving your partner a striptease.


Something is compelling about different sounds and music that can arouse our senses.

From slow and sensual to raunchy or romantic, different songs have a way of setting the scene for any occasion.

If music is not your thing, sexy talk can also get the blood pumping!


The smell is an essential sense we should all use to our benefit inside and outside the bedroom.

Perfumes, scented candles, soaps, and body sprays can all help enhance your foreplay experience.

Note: Be mindful of heavy fragrances, as they can become overpowering.


Taste can be a very influential sense that can make or break your experience with foreplay.

Licking the flavored oils, whipped cream, or melted chocolate off your partner's body can be a fun and delicious way to excite your senses.


Last but certainly not least is touch.

Although kissing and oral sex are widespread methods of foreplay, experimenting with different types of touch can be incredibly riveting.

From soft and sensual nipple play to firm and dominant full-body caressing, exploring the different types of touch can create a whole new experience.

For the utmost explosive foreplay experience, combining 2 or 3 of your senses can transform your average foreplay into a mind-blowing occasion.

ALSO READ: Premature Ejaculation: A Man's Ultimate Guide

Top 5 Tips to Spice Up Your Foreplay

If you're looking to ignite the flame in the bedroom, here are some excellent foreplay tips to get your sex drive higher than ever before.

1. Communicate your needs

The more you know your partner, the better you can meet your mutual sexual needs.

Sharing with your partner how you want to be touched, kissed, stroked and caressed can make for a more pleasurable foreplay experience. Often, this conversation alone can help ignite the flame and get you both into the mood.

2. Change it up with some dirty talk

Dirty talk is a modern method of foreplay that can stimulate the senses and build more lust and desire in a relationship.

If you're still unsure how to start using dirty talk, initiate it slowly by sending an unsuspecting flirty text to your partner occasionally.

The words start flowing more naturally as you communicate your sexual desires and fantasies and become more comfortable. You can also change it up with different modes of communication, such as a handwritten note or a phone call.

3. Buy a sex toy

If you're looking to get more physical with your foreplay, sex toys are an excellent way to spice things up.

For women, a vibrator can be the perfect toy to help stimulate the clitoris to excite the senses and boost levels of arousal. Some couples even use remote-controlled vibrators to take teasing, power-play and sexual adventure up a notch.

4. Give your partner a sensual massage

An erotic massage is a more relaxing method of foreplay that is used to tease and pleasure your partner. Before getting into the massage, start by setting the mood in the room with a comfortable bed, dimmed lighting, soft music and subtly fragrant massage oil.

For the most erotic massages, focusing on your touch is essential. Make your first few touches long, lingering, and purposeful. From here, you're ready to slowly move into a deeper, more sensual massage as you go from head to toe. Continue to check in with your partner to determine if the pressure and rhythm suit them.

5. Act out a fantasy

Sexual fantasies are a normal and personal thought many seek to explore in a safe, judgment-free environment. Acting out a fantasy with your partner is a fantastic method of foreplay that can be emotionally and physically stimulating.

Let your fantasies flow.

Fantasize about flirting with your partner in a public setting or pretending you're meeting for the first time. Acting out an erotic scene from your favorite novel or fantasy foreplay can be an incredible experience.

ALSO READ: Semen Retention: Here's What To Know

Everyone is Different When it Comes to Foreplay

Keep in mind that not everyone has the same sexual desires. What works for one person may not work for another. It's ideal to learn about your sexual preferences by better communicating your needs with your partner.

Having an open and honest conversation before getting physical can help you get the most out of this experience.

ALSO READ: What's your best sex position? Let's find out.


  • Foreplay is often overlooked, yet a powerful sexual activity that helps boost arousal, pleasure and connection.
  • Foreplay builds sexual desire and tension and can start long before physical contact.
  • Whether short and to the point or a long and sensual exploration of the senses, foreplay can be an overwhelmingly satisfying experience for both men and women alike. 
  • Knowing your partner's sexual desires helps with meeting both of your needs.
  • Men and women are different and so is the time to get sexually satisfied hence the orgasm gap.
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Medical Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to give medical advice or substitute for the medical advice of a physician.

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