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Taking a Broader View of Intercourse

by Dr. Denise Renye, Licensed Medical Psychologist and Intercourse Therapist, PsyD, MA, MEd, in San Francisco, CA

When many individuals consider intercourse, they consider penis-in-vagina (PIV) intercourse. They might additionally consider orgasms and ejaculation. Nevertheless, as a sexologist, I take a broader view of intercourse. There are not less than 5 circles of sexuality, and I embody foreplay in addition to aftercare within the sexual expertise. Foreplay and aftercare are simply as vital, even integral, for intercourse as orgasm and/or ejaculation.

A Broader Understanding of Intercourse

In U.S. tradition (and plenty of others), we’re inspired to think about intercourse as having an endgame. There’s one thing to attain, accomplish, attain. Many individuals enter right into a sexual expertise considering it “has” to finish in orgasm or ejaculation, however that’s not true. Foreplay — glancing, gazing, touching, speaking, and even fantasy exploration — is part of intercourse.

So too is aftercare. The phrase “aftercare” originates within the bondage and self-discipline, domination and submission, sadism and masochism (BDSM) group whereby the Dom/Domme checks in with the Sub and vice versa to course of, debrief, combine, and regroup following a BDSM scene.


Aftercare following “vanilla” or “conventional” intercourse could be nice as a daily follow! Nevertheless, aftercare all through a sexual expertise could be even higher. The aftercare course of between two, or extra, people permit for potential therapeutic by means of weak connection whereby the individuals concerned categorical their emotions and share previous experiences. Let’s get our therapeutic on by means of sexual expression by incorporating aftercare!


Let’s additionally cease serious about intercourse because the “principal occasion.” The concept of foreplay is a heterosexually targeted idea, and it may restrict and limit the sexual expertise even for heterosexual companions.

“Foreplay” Can Be a Problematic Concept

As I’ve written about earlier than, I’ve an issue with the idea and phrase “foreplay.” To start out with, the phrase itself designates a earlier than. Etymologically talking, foreplay comes from the basis phrase “fore,” which means earlier than, forward, or in entrance of; plus “play,” which means an exercise for enjoyment and recreation. Nevertheless, the phrase “foreplay” assumes the enjoyable has not already begun! If appears to be like and power are being exchanged and consensual touching is leading to pleasure, doesn’t that imply the enjoyable has already began? This view of intercourse is so limiting!

Intercourse Isn’t Linear

Calling, texting, holding palms, speaking over tea or a glass of wine, caressing, admiring, stroking, massaging, tickling, kissing lips and necks and arms and bellies and inside thighs are all types of play (fore and past). Intercourse isn’t linear – it doesn’t begin with kissing, progress to foreplay, and culminate in heterosexual intercourse. Intercourse might go from speaking to kissing to speaking to hand-holding to caressing to massaging to intercourse (if relevant and desired) to massaging to stroking, and so forth.

The opposite factor about foreplay is it’s heteronormative, as a result of if foreplay is the lead-up to intercourse, which means digital, oral, and anal intercourse aren’t intercourse. (Hello, Invoice Clinton’s “I didn’t have intercourse with that lady.”) Nicely, no. All of it’s intercourse. All of it counts, which the queer group has identified and has been instructing us for ages. PIV intercourse isn’t the one sort of intercourse. It’s not superior intercourse, both. None is healthier or worse than one other. Plus, there’s the matter of individuals with disabilities who could not have the capability for anatomical penetration, in addition to those that favor outercourse. Using the idea of foreplay means these folx won’t ever have intercourse, which once more, is simply plain improper.

Sexual Exercise Is Not Simply About Orgasms

Lastly, the way in which foreplay is usually introduced in heterosexual relationships is it’s the “work” beforehand to activate a lady to get to the “enjoyable stuff” or “actual intercourse:” penetration, orgasming and/or ejaculating. There’s nothing improper with orgasms and ejaculations, however specializing in them a lot leaves pleasure out of the equation. I do know which will sound paradoxical as a result of orgasms look like they might be inherently pleasurable. Nevertheless, when it’s the main focus, dissociation from the physique can happen. Pleasure-oriented intercourse means specializing in pleasure through the complete sexual expertise – not simply at one particular level. Additionally, for those who’re targeted on pleasure, orgasms and/or ejaculations are easy byproducts of the play – they happen as a pure development.

How We Assume About Intercourse Impacts Our Expertise of It

Our view of intercourse has loads to do with how we expertise it. Given every part I’ve written above, you is likely to be asking, “How can I’ve higher intercourse?” Talk about potential scenes, likes, dislikes, hopes, and needs. Let intercourse be play versus crammed with “musts” “must haves” and different inflexible approaches. Pleasure and anxiousness can not coexist, so if you find yourself enjoying, if anxiousness arises, voice it to your companion(s) so you possibly can transfer by means of it. If voicing it doesn’t really feel protected, neither is enjoying with this particular person or individuals. You’ll be able to all the time shut down a scene anytime. Sure, even halfway!

And once more, incorporate aftercare. What we’d like on this world is extra consideration to one another’s inside landscapes so therapeutic by means of intercourse can happen. The way in which we concentrate to one another’s inside landscapes can also be by listening to our personal. Discover what’s taking place in your physique. Take note of what feels good, not good, protected, not protected. The extra you might have an understanding of your self, and are in a position to talk that to your companion(s), the higher your intercourse life will probably be.

In case you’re fascinated about studying extra about have good intercourse, join my publication.

Therapists: Do you know our members have publication alternatives on our weblog? Be taught extra in your Member’s Space.

© Copyright 2021 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Dr. Denise Renye, Licensed Medical Psychologist and Intercourse Therapist, MEd, MA, PsyD in San Francisco, CA

The previous article was solely written by the creator named above. Any views and opinions expressed aren’t essentially shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or issues in regards to the previous article might be directed to the creator or posted as a remark under.

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