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Foreplay is sexual and nonsexual activity people engage in to become more intimate and aroused before penetrative sex (such as penis-vagina, penis-anus).

Such activities may include kissing, touching, oral sex, or massages, and can be beneficial for arousal, bonding, and relaxing the body for consensual penetrative sex. For those who do not have penetrative sex, these foreplay activities may encompass the entire sexual experience (see Topic What is Sex?).

Even without penetrative sex, precautions against pregnancy and STDs during foreplay should be considered (see Topics STD and Precum & Pregnancy).

The sourced articles below should provide more information on the benefits of foreplay in achieving sexual fulfillment.

  1. Foreplay Part 1: What Is Foreplay?

    “What is Foreplay? Foreplay is all of the things (sexual and non-sexual) that people might do to get in the mood and turned on for sexual activities.”

    Teen Health Source,, accessed on 5/11/2019

  2. Definition – What Does Foreplay Mean?

    “Foreplay has traditionally been used to refer the sexual and intimate acts that occur in preparation for intercourse. In more recent years, however, this definition has been rejected in favor of a more inclusive one that favors more warmup and slower sex, no matter what kind of sex you’re having (because not everyone has intercourse!) Foreplay increases arousal and desire between partners. It also helps to lower inhibitions and increase emotional intimacy. Kissing, touching, oral sex, massage, and other sexual acts that don’t bring either partner to climax may be considered part of foreplay.”

    Kinkly,, accessed on 5/11/2019

  3. Foreplay

    “Of course, as Carol Queen, staff sexologist at the adult toy store Good Vibrations, points out, this definition assumes that penetrative intercourse is the definition of sex. ‘Calling it foreplay in that sense is heteronormative. I call them *arousal activities.*’ For instance, some LGBTQ couples do not engage in penetration and consider other things like oral sex as the main event. Therefore, calling oral sex ‘foreplay’ could be a noninclusive way of looking at sex. But also, looking at foreplay as the appetizer and not a meal of its own can make it seem like it’s less important than a man’s orgasm via vaginal or anal intercourse.”

    Rose Surnow, and Julia Pugachevsky,, 3/11/2019

  4. Myths And Facts About… Male Condoms

    “Myth: Premature ejaculation … Some men and women incorrectly believe that male condoms constrict an erect penis, causing premature ejaculation.
    Fact: Using a male condom does not cause premature ejaculation. On the contrary, condoms can help users maintain an erection longer and prevent premature ejaculation, especially when the placement of the condom on the penis is a routine part of sexual foreplay.”

    International Planned Parenthood Federation,, 3/11/2019

  5. How To Have Vaginal Sex

    “Foreplay (sometimes called heavy petting) is about getting both people sexually aroused (or turned on) and ready for penetrative sex, through kissing, stroking, caressing, rubbing and touching. Sometimes people also have oral sex as part of foreplay. The more aroused you both are, the better sex is likely to feel.”

    Avert,, 2/26/2019

  6. Foreplay, Play, Orgasm, And Post-Orgasm

    “Emotional intimacy is great foreplay. … To the degree that there has been goodwill and loving kindness shared since your last encounter with each other, this experience will be much more likely to be mutually fulfilling.”

    Linda and Charlie Bloom,, 2/14/2019

  7. 17 Foreplay Tips & Ideas You’ll Be Dying To Try

    “We asked sex therapists and experts to weigh in with their favorite foreplay tips and ideas—and you’re going to want to try them all the next time you get frisky. …
    [1.] Relive Your Best Moments …
    [2.] Start Off Outside the Bedroom …
    [3.] Talk Dirty …
    [4.] Experiment With Temperature …
    [5.] Do a Little Dance …
    [6.] Make Foreplay an All-Day Event …
    [7.] Do the Unexpected …
    [8.] Act Out a Fantasy …
    [9.] Don’t Kiss …
    [10.] Get a Massage …
    [11.] Watch a Sexy Movie Together …
    [12.] Mime Each Other’s Moves …
    [13.] Play a Kissing Game …
    [14.] Be a Tease …
    [15.] Practice Your Communication Skills …
    [16.] Act Like Strangers …
    [17.] Make a ‘Yes/No/Maybe’ List …”

    Suzannah Weiss, Joanna Goddard, and Rosemary Brennan,, 1/18/2019

  8. 10 Ways To Boost Libido

    “Focus on foreplay: Having better sexual experiences may increase a person’s desire for sex, thereby boosting their libido. In many cases, people can enhance their sexual experiences by spending more time on touching, kissing, using sex toys, and performing oral sex. Some people call these actions outercourse. For women, foreplay may be especially important. According to some 2017 research, only around 18 percent of women orgasm from intercourse alone, while 33.6 percent of women report that stimulation of the clitoris is necessary for them to orgasm.”

    Zawn Villines, reviewed by Janet Brito, PhD, LCSW, CST,, 12/6/2018

  9. Don’t Ignore The Foreplay

    “During foreplay, a woman’s clitoris will become erect, her cervix will rise up to the occasion and elongate the vaginal canal (this makes room for you), and her vagina will become lubricated. This preparation means when you ‘head in,’ it’s more comfortable for you and enjoyable for her. You wouldn’t go down a water slide if it wasn’t wet, right? The famous sex researcher Dr. Alfred Kinsey once said that an orgasm ‘can be likened to the crescendo, climax, and sudden stillness achieved by an orchestra of human emotions … an explosion of tensions, and to sneezing.'”

    Boston Medical Group,, 8/9/2018

  10. Everything You Need To Know About Anal Foreplay

    “Which is all the more reason to focus on the importance of anal foreplay—it can make or break the butt stuff experience. Anal sex is not like regular P in the V penetration. The vagina naturally lubricates (though you should still use additional lubricant), while the anus does not. The butt is full of taut muscles that aren’t primed for being entered on a whim. You’ve got to work up to it. Tina Horn, host and producer of the podcast Why Are People Into That, tells that anal play is a way for people to expand their sexual menu, but you have to consider pacing. ‘You can never go too slow or use too much lube,’ Horn tells us.”

    Gigi Engle,, 9/29/2017

  11. 5 Steps To Having Good Sex On Your First Time

    “In the lead up to your first time, you may spend a lot of time worrying about the ‘end result’. While this is natural, spending as much time as possible on foreplay can really help both you and your partner enjoy sex and reduce the risk of it hurting the first time!
    Foreplay is anything that helps to get you and your partner properly ‘turned on’ before you have penetrative sex. Kiss, feel, lick and stimulate your partner as much as possible so you feel into it and ready for the next step.”

    Avert,, 8/17/2017

  12. Surprise: Men Enjoy—And Want—Foreplay

    “In fact, the most satisfying lovemaking is nonlinear and deliciously unpredictable. Intercourse is certainly part of it—assuming that lovers enjoy it and are physically capable of accomplishing it. But there’s no law that says intercourse is or should be the culmination of lovemaking. Lovers can kiss and cuddle, then massage each other for a while, then kiss and snuggle some more, then perhaps enjoy some oral play, then maybe some intercourse, and after that more massage, oral, fingering, and then maybe more massage, culminating in orgasms that may or may not involve intercourse. In great sex, nothing comes before anything else. As a result, I don’t use the term ‘foreplay.’ I prefer ‘loveplay’ or ‘erotic touch.'”

    Michael Castleman, MA,, 8/1/2017

  13. Safe Sex: How To Prevent STDs

    “Use condoms: For those who do have sex, use condoms for the entire sex act—including foreplay. If you’re unsure how to use condoms correctly, ask your doctor or a healthcare professional. Condoms are not 100 percent effective at preventing STDs and pregnancy, but they’re very efficient if used in the right ways.”

    OB/GYN,, 5/19/2017

  14. Here’s How Long Great Foreplay Should Last

    “[Sexologist Lindsey] Doe says the secret to great, long-lasting foreplay is to talk with your partner about what you think foreplay is, and make it something more than a chore you have to finish in order to get to the goodies. ‘Foreplay doesn’t have to build up to something more important. It can be what’s more important,’ she says, echoing mine and millions of women’s thoughts exactly.”

    Zeynep Yenisey,, 1/19/2017

  15. 5 Ways To Spice Up Your Sex Life With Foreplay

    “For women, foreplay can actually make sex more pleasurable. ‘When a woman’s body becomes aroused, the vaginal muscles pull the uterus up a bit, making more room in the vagina,’ says Herbenick. This process, called vaginal tenting, creates more space, which makes sex more enjoyable. ‘If this doesn’t happen, sex may be uncomfortable for a woman,’ notes Herbenick.”

    Diana Rodriguez, medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH,, 7/25/2016