Dear Dr. G,
I read with interest the recent comment you made on the local newspaper on the importance of foreplay, and hope to get some clarification on the matter.
I am a 28 year-old-man who is newly married.
My wife recently commented that I am too eager and rushed during sex, causing her some discomfort and displeasure.
She is also not too experienced herself (so, she told me), but mentioned she read somewhere that the secret of bedroom performance lies in the foreplay.
Apparently, the key of engaging pleasure in sex lies in the build up, rather than the act itself! I was also told this is particularly important in women as the build up is more difficult to achieve, but the pleasure is more sustained!
With a bit of a dented ego, I would like to put Dr. G on the spot about the importance of prelude to sex.
What exactly is foreplay and how long should it be?
Is the prelude of sex really so important? If so, why is it important?
Is it true that foreplay is more important for women than men?
Please enlighten my Sunday and many bedroom "fundays" to come!
Foreplay is the prelude to sexual intercourse, an important build up of arousal, prior to consent for sex. Such pre-coital activity is generally observed in animal and human sexual behaviour.
Foreplay can be non-physical and physical. Verbal erotic communication stimulates the mental fantasy. Such a "tease-and-tantalise" method will build up sexual tension, leading to physical foreplay. These encounters are crucial to lower inhibitions and increase emotional intimacy.
The simple form of non-physical foreplay can start with attention grabbing and verbal flirtation. With interests, the flirtation may progress to physical foreplay, such as hugging, cuddling and caressing. The crescendo of emotions generally evolves to sensual touching and oral contacts of genitalia and intense spots, such as the ear lobes or buttocks. Other forms of foreplay may involve role-play, sexual bondage and fetish, but such non-conventional act may not be of interest or acceptance to the masses.
In a physiological viewpoint, foreplay started as a form of mental arousal, leading to the enhanced blood circulation of erogenous organs such as nipples and genitalia. Previous researches highlighted the importance of foreplay particularly in women. It is believed that women takes longer to reach a state of arousal. On the other hand, men just need to think about sex or be exposed to visual stimulation to get an erection.
Therefore, prolonged interval with increasing intensity of foreplay is believed to play a vital role in priming female partners for orgasmic experience.
Although many may argue that foreplay is more important in women, in reality the pre-coital activity is crucial to build trust and confidence for both genders before penetration. Scientists from McGill University in Montreal used thermal imaging to gauge the baseline temperature change in the genitalia area as defined as the time necessary to achieve sexual arousal, with pre-coital activities. The study also revealed on average, both men and women require around 10 minutes to reach the peak of sexual arousal. Contrary to common belief, the interval of time necessary to reach mental arousal is the same for both genders.
Another study on 152 couples reported both men and women estimating the ideal interval of foreplay at 18 minutes although in reality, the interval of foreplay was reported to be at 13 minutes.
The American Professional Heavyweight Champion, Deontay Wilder once made a remark about the art of boxing: "Having patience is one of the hardest things about being human. We want to do it now, and we don't want to wait. Sometimes we miss out on or blessing when we rush things and do it on our own times."
Foreplay is generally a form of communication prior to consent to have sex. It is also an opportunity for partners to have an open and honest communication with each other of what is pleasurable and otherwise. When Dr. G is put on the spot by "eager beavers" rushing into sex and missing out on the art of lovemaking, his advice is: "Having patience in the prelude to sex is one of the hardest things about being human. In the heat of the moment, we want to do it and do it now. Rushing foreplay is like missing out on the blessing to explore and understand each other. When men rush things, we might just end up doing it on our own!" On that note, take it slow and make it easy like Sunday Mornings.
Dr George Lee is a consultant Urologist and Clinical Associate Professor whose professional interest is in men’s health. The column “Ask Dr G” is a forum to help men debunk the myths and taboos on men’s issues that may be too “hard” to mention. You can send him questions at firstname.lastname@example.org