Mental Health

Taking a Broader View of Intercourse

GoodTherapy | Taking a Broader View of Sex

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 no less than 5 circles of sexuality, and I embody foreplay in addition to aftercare within the sexual expertise. Foreplay and aftercare are simply as necessary, 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 consider 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 an everyday observe! 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 way of weak connection whereby the individuals concerned specific their emotions and share previous experiences. Let’s get our therapeutic on by way of sexual expression by incorporating aftercare!


Let’s additionally cease fascinated by intercourse because the “essential occasion.” The thought of foreplay is a heterosexually targeted idea, and it will possibly restrict and prohibit 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 begin 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 seems to be 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 arms, speaking over tea or a glass of wine, caressing, admiring, stroking, massaging, tickling, kissing lips and necks and arms and bellies and internal thighs are all types of play (fore and past). Intercourse is just not 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 on.

The opposite factor about foreplay is it’s heteronormative, as a result of if foreplay is the lead-up to intercourse, meaning digital, oral, and anal intercourse will not be intercourse. (Hello, Invoice Clinton’s “I didn’t have intercourse with that girl.”) Effectively, 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 is just not the one form 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 want outercourse. Using the idea of foreplay means these folx won’t ever have intercourse, which once more, is simply plain mistaken.

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 mistaken with orgasms and ejaculations, however specializing in them a lot leaves pleasure out of the equation. I do know that will sound paradoxical as a result of orgasms appear to be they’d be inherently pleasurable. Nevertheless, when it’s the main target, dissociation from the physique can happen. Pleasure-oriented intercourse means specializing in pleasure throughout the whole 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 quite a bit to do with how we expertise it. Given all the things I’ve written above, you is likely to be asking, “How can I’ve higher intercourse?” Talk about potential scenes, likes, dislikes, hopes, and wishes. Let intercourse be play versus crammed with “musts” “should haves” and different inflexible approaches. Pleasure and anxiousness can’t coexist, so if you find yourself taking part in, if anxiousness arises, voice it to your companion(s) so you’ll be able to transfer by way of it. If voicing it doesn’t really feel secure, neither is taking part in with this particular person or individuals. You’ll be able to at all times 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 way of intercourse can happen. The way in which we listen to one another’s inside landscapes can also be by listening to our personal. Discover what’s occurring in your physique. Take note of what feels good, not good, secure, not secure. The extra you will have an understanding of your self, and are capable of talk that to your companion(s), the higher your intercourse life will likely be.

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© Copyright 2021 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 writer named above. Any views and opinions expressed will not be essentially shared by Questions or considerations concerning the previous article might be directed to the writer or posted as a remark under.

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