Does Foreplay Help With Orgasms?

What do you think about “foreplay?” Do you like it? Do you do it?

In this video we’re going to talk about why “foreplay” is pretty much essential to having an orgasm for most women. We’ll talk about how to approach this very important part of sex, and why “foreplay” is probably not even a helpful word to use.

Want to know more? Click the play button and hope you enjoy.


Video Transcript

This is Dr. Erica Marchand. I'm a licensed psychologist and sex therapist and I have made it my mission to help understand women's sexual pleasure and orgasms, and to help all of us have our best sex lives and all the orgasms we want to.

In this video series, I wanna answer some commonly-asked questions about orgasm. So get your tea, it's gonna be really interesting.

The question for today comes from a woman who attended a webinar that I did, a couple of months ago, and Denise is the woman who asked this question. She says, "Does foreplay help with orgasms?"

So I'm gonna answer this question and at the end of it, I hope that you will get three things out of it:

- Number one, I wanna convince you that foreplay is probably the wrong word, to use.
- Number two, I want to tell you why non-intercourse sexual activities are not just helpful for having an orgasm, but pretty much essential for having an orgasm.
- And then number three, I want you to come away understanding what kinds of non-intercourse sexual activities most women need in order to have an orgasm.

Okay, so that's what we're gonna do. Now, why is this topic important?

So, I love this question that she asked me because in what I hear from women about why they don't have orgasms, not spending enough time on foreplay is probably the number one reason that women tell me that they don't have orgasms.

So I frequently will send out emails to my email list and ask women, 'what do you think is holding you back from having an orgasm?' And I get lots and lots and lots of answers and I think 80% of them roughly have something to do with not getting enough foreplay or not getting enough of the right kind of stimulation.

So from that, I realized that this is a huge issue and that's why I think this question is important.

Second reason that I think this is important to talk about is because there's a big gap between men and women, in the end, having orgasms.

Not that it's a competition or a comparison, but I think it's significant to know that particularly for women in relationships with men, women have orgasms less often than their male partners and have problems having orgasms much more frequently than their male partners. Despite the fact that bodies, male and female bodies, are equally set up to have orgasms so it's not a physical difference, it's a social, cultural, relationship, psychological difference in how men and women operate sexually.

And I think it's a big issue of a quality or inequality, because not having orgasms means that you're more frequently frustrated, you're more frequently left wanting more, you're more frequently giving up something perhaps that you might otherwise want, you're more frequently not asking for what you need... You're more frequently just not experiencing the pleasure and connection and all the good things that can come along with having an orgasm.

And that makes a big inequality in the sexual experience between men and women, and I think that is important. I could go into a whole other video about why I think that's important, but I'll stop here. It's important, there's an inequality in orgasms that I think should be corrected.

Finally, the third reason I think this is important, and this kind of informs my whole career, is that orgasms are fun! They're really good for you. Pleasure is really good for you. And they're a nice way to connect and to feel satisfied and as sexual experience, they release all kinds of endorphins and connecting hormones and calming hormones and are just a really nice natural way to have a good time.

Those are the three reasons that I really think this is important to talk about. Okay, so let's get into talking about foreplay.

So like I told you, the first thing I wanna convince you of is that foreplay is the wrong word to use for all the sex that happens that's not intercourse. So we tend to use the word "foreplay" for all the sex that happens that is not intercourse, but all the sex that happens that is not intercourse is usually how women have orgasms so most women have orgasms from oral sex, manual sex, which means stimulation with hands or fingers, and vibrators. All of that stuff is often part of the sex that happens that's not intercourse.

So if we call all that stuff foreplay, it makes it sound optional, or it makes it sound like something extra or something that happens before sex starts.

And when we think about foreplay that way, or we think about non-intercourse sex that way, it really shortchanges women because we don't typically have orgasms through intercourse.

And so I have a brilliant colleague named Laurie Mintz, she's at the University of Florida, she's a psychologist as well and she wrote a book last year called Becoming Cliterate (2017 or 2018, I can't remember).

And in Becoming Cliterate, she says we have to stop over-valuing the kind of sex that brings men to orgasm and under-valuing the kind of sex that brings women to orgasm, which is exactly what we tend to do. The kind of sex that brings men to orgasm is often intercourse, and the kind of sex that brings women to orgasm is often oral or manual or vibrator simulation.

And so until we can stop over-valuing one kind of sex, and under-valuing the other, we're gonna have this problem of orgasm inequality.

So I want you to think about the idea that using the word "foreplay" is the wrong way to think about it, it's all part of the sexual experience and the kind of sex that brings you to orgasm is equally as valuable and important as the kind of sex that brings your partner to orgasm.

And so that shouldn't be optional. They should all be part of the sexual experience equally.

Okay, so that's the first thing -- foreplay, not my favorite word.

Okay, second thing I want to talk to you about is why foreplay or non-intercourse sexual activity is essential for most women to have an orgasm.

So the simple reason is that most women need consistent, direct clitoral stimulation to have an orgasm, and intercourse doesn't really do that very well. For most women, just anatomically speaking, it doesn't work very well.

So the types of things that bring most women to orgasm are, again, manual, oral, or vibrator stimulation of the clitoris. And so those things are essential as part of the sexual experience for most women to have an orgasm. Plain and simple.

And then three, what kinds of non-intercourse sexual activities, that most women need to have orgasms.

Well, it could be oral sex, could be manual sex, could be vibrator as part of sex, could be a lot of different things. And certainly there are other things, women vary in terms of what they need, but anything that is about direct clitoral stimulation for some period of time, and usually where the woman has an opportunity to just kind of relax and enjoy what's happening -- she's not trying to stimulate her partner as well -- those are the kinds of things that bring most women to orgasm. So that has to be part of sex.

Okay, so I want you to think about how you might be able to implement this information. So how do you take this and use it for your own life?

Here are some suggestions. Number one, let's try to shift our own mindsets about "foreplay." So I hope that I've at least started to get you thinking that foreplay is probably the wrong word to use and the wrong way to think about it.

So, if you would, try to join me in thinking about non-intercourse sexual activities as just sex. It's all part of sex, and valuing the type of sex that brings you to orgasm equally with what brings your partner to orgasm. Neither one of them is optional or extra. They're all sex. That's one thing.

The second thing you can try is to learn what brings you to orgasm, so that you can share it with your partner. So if you're not sure, then experiment, see what you might like and then once you know that, once you know what you like, you can bring that into sex, the whole sexual experience and share with your partner what you like and communicate about what you like and what you want, which is the third thing, communicating about what you like.

So, shift your mindset about "foreplay," learn what you like and what brings you pleasure, what brings you to orgasm, and three, share it with your partner, and let them know what you like and what you want. Those are some ways to bring it into your own life.

Okay, now what if you don't know what brings you to orgasm or you don't even know how to learn what brings you to orgasm? Try experimenting is what I always tell people, experimentation is the only way to learn your body and your mind and what you really like.

So masturbate, that's really the best way. Experiment with different kinds of fantasies or different kinds of erotic material or different kinds of stimulation. If you've never tried a vibrator, try a vibrator! Just experiment, you might even experiment with the different kinds of sexual activities with your partner. Trying different things will help you know what really brings you pleasure and then you can share that with your partner or integrate it into the sex that you guys have. So, that's one really important thing.

What if, though, you don't feel comfortable sharing what you like or what you want with your partner? Let's say you know what you like, but it's hard to say it.

Okay, so let me tell you, first of all, that is totally normal.

I think most of us out here are feeling nervous about doing that. All the women that I talk to, who are interested in having a better sex life or interested in having more equal pleasure in bed, we're all struggling with the same idea that we've been taught that we shouldn't speak up or we shouldn't ask for too much or we shouldn't like sex too much or blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

All of us are pushing back against that same set of messages that you probably are. We are all nervous.

So I say that to say, it's totally normal to be uncomfortable talking to your partner about what you want during sex, but if you're nervous, know that there's a bunch of other women out here who are trying to do the same thing and you are part of a bigger community of women.

We're all trying to do the same thing. It's not just you.

So hopefully that gives you a little bit of courage to, even if you're nervous or even if you are uncomfortable, to at least try to start the conversation and see what happens and know that you're not alone, and there are so many of us out there who are right there with you and doing the same thing, so I hope that helps. I hope that helps, I know that it is, it can be scary to start to shift these norms that we all operate under.

And then finally, I get from people the idea sometimes that what if the whole idea of valuing "foreplay" or non-intercourse sex the same as intercourse, what if I just can't get my mind around that, what if that's too foreign? And so again, I would say to you, totally normal, because what we've kind of been taught is that intercourse is the main event and everything else is extra -- appetizers or dessert, or whatever. And intercourse is the thing that you focus on.

So having been taught that, it can be very hard to shift your mindset to..."Oh wait, all of those are equally important dishes in the meal," versus one being the main dish, and others being extra dishes.

So again, it's a mindset shift, it's a cultural shift. There are a lot of women who are going through the same mental process to try to think about this differently. So if you don't immediately believe it, if you don't immediately start to think about sex differently, don't worry about it. That's okay, it's a process, and there are a lot of people out there who are thinking about this and struggling with it the same way that you are.

If it helps, you can know that you are with some of the smartest, coolest thinkers out there in psychology and medicine and feminism. A lot of us are talking about this and a lot of us are coming to the same conclusions. And so if you're starting to grapple with these ideas, know that you are in good company.

So that's what I would say about that. I know it can be hard to start out, but once you get started, it's hard to think about it any other way. Once you've seen... You can't un-see.

So what should you do next? So what I hope you take from this video is that there are things that you can do in your own life and your own sex life, to help to bring in more of the kind of sex that helps you have an orgasm or even helps you have more pleasure.

So when you think about this question: does foreplay help with orgasms? I hope that you will remember the three things that we talked about, number one, I... It's not foreplay, it's all sex and valuing the kind of sex that brings you to orgasm equally with the kind of sex that brings your partner to orgasm is a good thing to do.

I hope also that you will remember that is most women need non-intercourse sexual activity to have an orgasm, and you gotta learn what you need and then you've gotta communicate that to your partner.

So try to integrate those things the next time you're thinking about sex or the next time you have sex. Know that it does not have to be perfect, you don't have to shift your mindset right away or change the way you have sex all at once. It's a process.

So just take one step, whatever that is for you, and know that the next steps will follow. And congratulate yourself when you make some progress.

Okay, so that is it. I am Dr. Erica signing off and I'll see you in another video. Okay, bye.

Take the Orgasm Spectrum™️ Quiz to discover where you fall on the spectrum and then Dr. Erica will show you exactly what to do in order to make orgasms a regular part of your life. 

Take the Orgasm Spectrum™️ Quiz to learn where you fall on the spectrum and what to do in order to make orgasms a regular part of your life.