What Is Foreplay and Intercourse: A Guide on Sexual Arousal

    What Is Foreplay and Intercourse: A Guide on Sexual Arousal

    What is foreplay? Everything in our lives should start with something – including the act of sex. Depending on who you ask, sexual intercourse is defined in different ways. It can be a process for parenthood, an intimate and romantic activity, or an act of pleasure. Yet, regardless of definition, sex should always start with two crucial actions: consent and foreplay.

    What Is Foreplay and Consent?

    Asking for consent should be easy to comprehend and execute at this point. Foreplay, however, is a tricky process that aims to arouse each other for actual intercourse. Having intercourse without foreplay can be difficult, uncomfortable, and painful for both parties.

    Given this, it’s good to ask, what is foreplay, and why is it an essential sexual activity?

    Foreplay, Explained

    People who will engage in sexual activity should undergo foreplay. These consist of exercises that bring initial pleasure and arousal to both parties in preparation for sex. Most of these require physical contact, such as kissing, hugging, touching or carressing our sensitive parts, and even mouth-to-genital playing. Verbal fantasies can also trigger arousal.

    The end goal of foreplay is to make both parties ready for sexual intercourse. We often view it as a feeling or emotion while anticipating pleasure. However, arousal can also manifest physically.

    Men, for instance, may experience an erection. This happens when blood flows to the male genitalia’s corpora canervosa, resulting in a hardened penis. On the other hand, women may get their vaginas “wet” when there’s natural lubrication in the vagina from an “excited” vulva and clitoris after an increased blood flow in the area. The anus can also get aroused in both genders through relaxed sphincters, but extra lubrication is recommended during anal play and intercourse.

    However, foreplay does not always mean penetration. This is the case for specific instances when arousal and eventual orgasm happen, even with no genital insertion. You can arouse someone by simply stimulating the genitals, as well as other erogenous zones such as your behind, breasts and nipple, anus. Even thoughts and verbal arousal can lead to orgasm.

    Turning Someone On

    Foreplay is intended to turn someone on, but why is it a big deal in sex?

    The most apparent reason for arousal in sex is to make the people involved feel satisfied and at ease. We have explained how arousal can set the emotions and feelings of the person and its physical manifestations.

    Turning someone on before sex can also help ensure that both parties, especially women, feel physically comfortable during sex. Intercourse that is difficult and painful is possible due to several factors, including lack of arousal.

    However, despite doing foreplay, one or both might have less arousal during sex, and it doesn’t always mean that there’s a lack of desire. From the perspective of women, as the American Sexual Health Association pointed out, arousal is a matter of intimacy more than contact.

    Still, both parties must know whether someone is willing to engage in sex before doing it, even before foreplay. This is where consent comes in.

    Key Zones in Foreplay

    Foreplay, in theory, is easy. Romantically hug and snuggle your partner, throw in some kisses and a few more intimate gestures over a couple of minutes, and you’ll both feel the sensation.

    However, foreplay also involves stimulation and excitation through various parts of the body. Here are some parts of our bodies that are known to spark up the action:

    • Genitalia. These include parts of the male and female genitalia – penis, prepuce (foreskin), vagina, clitoris, and others.
    • Perianal or perineal region. Experts noted the high nerve levels at the perianal part, which is the area in the middle of the genital and the anal area.
    • Mouth. Parts of the mouth, including the lips and tongue, are known parts used for playing, specifically for kissing and oral stimulation.
    • Breasts. Another known erogenous zone is the breasts, including the nipple and the areola, due to its many nerve endings that could be easily reactive to stimulation. It can also get sensitive during arousal due to the increased blood flow in the area.
    • Anus. For those who are into anal intercourse, the anus is also a critical body part for sexual stimulation.

    Aside from the above-mentioned body parts, other parts of our bodies can stimulate your feeling of arousal, such as the ears, neck, shoulder, thigh, back, leg, ankles, and feet.

    Key Takeaways

    What is foreplay? Foreplay consists of acts that can bring arousal to people involved in sexual intercourse. This arousal can be beneficial in feeling pleasure, and being at ease during sex. Pleasing your partner through a wide range of foreplay activities can lead to a satisfactory feeling during intercourse.

    However, intercourse also requires consent. This is why knowing whether your partner has the desire to engage in the act or not is critical to avoid repercussions in the relationship.

    Now that you have learned about foreplay, go and have sex responsively!

    Learn other Sex Tips here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Sources

    What is foreplay? https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/ask-experts/i-see-on-movies-and-here-people-talking-about-4play-i-wanted-to-know-what-this-meant, Accessed October 22, 2021

    What is foreplay? http://www.iwannaknow.org/faqconc/what-is-foreplay/, Accessed October 22, 2021

    Which Way to the G-spot? https://www.aarp.org/home-family/sex-intimacy/info-06-2013/sex-erogenous-zones-foreplay-schwartz.html, Accessed October 22, 2021

    HOW TO HAVE VAGINAL SEX, https://www.avert.org/sex-stis/how-to-have-sex/vaginal-sexAccessed October 22, 2021

    Orgasms, https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/sex-pleasure-and-sexual-dysfunction/sex-and-pleasure/orgasms, Accessed October 22, 2021

    Erogenous Zone, https://dictionary.apa.org/erogenous-zones, Accessed October 22, 2021

    Why does sex hurt? https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/sexual-health/why-does-sex-hurt/Accessed October 22, 2021

    Do You Have to Be Turned on to Have Sex? https://www.ashasexualhealth.org/turned-sex/, Accessed October 22, 2021

    THE EROGENOUS ZONES: THEIR NERVE SUPPLY AND SIGNIFICANCE, http://www.cirp.org/library/anatomy/winkelmann/Accessed October 22, 2021

    Breast Anatomy, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/8330-breast-anatomyAccessed October 22, 2021

    Picture of the Authorbadge
    Written by Dan Navarro Updated May 12
    Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD