Whoever said the most important thing in life is to finish strong never had
a frank conversation with a woman about the importance of foreplay. When it
comes to sexual prelude, men and women don't always see eye to eye. As you
ready yourself for slow, leisurely lovemaking, suddenly your evening turns into
an Emeril Lagasse show: Things were cooking, and then … bam! It's over.
"It's particularly important for women to have successful foreplay because
it takes a woman a longer time [than a man] to get up to the level of arousal
needed to orgasm," says "Dr. Ruth" Westheimer, EdD, a psychosexual therapist,
professor at New York University, and lecturer at Yale and Princeton
By Charlotte Latvala
Sick of bickering? Keep the peace (and get even closer) with these
After seven years of marriage, my husband and I have arguing down to an
exact science. We choose from Argument A (who screwed up the checkbook?),
Argument B (whose method of disciplining the kids is better?) and Argument C
(whose turn is it to take out the trash?). We're still fighting about the same
things we fought about years ago, but the bickering takes up less time; I
A man can just think about sex and have an erection, but for most women,
wanting sex is not enough, says Westheimer. Foreplay serves a physical and
emotional purpose, helping prepare both mind and body for sex. Many women need
to be kissed, hugged, and caressed to create lubrication in the vagina, which
is important for comfortable intercourse.
Foreplay and the Clitoris
Foreplay also helps the clitoris fulfill its "O" so important role. "It has
the same characteristics as the penis," Westheimer says. "Blood flows into the
clitoris, and in order for a woman to have an orgasm, there must be lubrication
in the vagina, but also the clitoris must get erect." Stimulation is the key to
But we're more than just our biology. After all, a girl's got feelings.
Westheimer says a woman especially needs emotional assurance that the man she's
about to have sex with really wants to be with her. The time and attention
given during foreplay can communicate that message in a way the "Wham, bam,
thank you, ma'am" approach simply cannot.
So let your guy in on the secret: Even Emeril allows his dishes to simmer
for a little while before bringing them to a boil.
Start off strong with these foreplay tips from Dr. Ruth:
Check it out. If anything "down there" hurts or isn't working the way
you think it should, don't wonder about it -- see a doctor. For him, difficulty
maintaining an erection and, for her, pain during intercourse always requires a
Don't zone out. Many couples are embarrassed to ask their partner to
stimulate erogenous zones that are very pleasurable but can be considered
taboo. The nipples, the anus, the back of the neck -- all have nerve endings.
So don't be shy. The only shame when it comes to foreplay is a missed
opportunity for pleasure.
Stay the course. There is a moment before orgasm when many women give
up, thinking nothing will happen. It's a self-sabotaging mistake. Stay with the
stimulation and the orgasm will come.