Taking a Broader View of Intercourse


by Dr. Denise Renye, Licensed Scientific 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. Nonetheless, as a sexologist, I take a broader view of intercourse. There are no less than 5 circles of sexuality, and I embrace 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 lots 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) neighborhood 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 can be nice as a daily apply! Nonetheless, aftercare all through a sexual expertise can be even higher. The aftercare course of between two, or extra, people permit for potential therapeutic by means of susceptible connection whereby the folks concerned specific their emotions and share previous experiences. Let’s get our therapeutic on by means of sexual expression by incorporating aftercare!


Let’s additionally cease fascinated by intercourse because the “major occasion.” The concept of foreplay is a heterosexually centered idea, and it may restrict and prohibit the sexual expertise even for heterosexual companions.

“Foreplay” Can Be a Problematic Thought

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 foundation phrase “fore,” that means earlier than, forward, or in entrance of; plus “play,” that means an exercise for enjoyment and recreation. Nonetheless, the phrase “foreplay” assumes the enjoyable has not already begun! If appears 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 interior 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 may 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 many others.

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 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 neighborhood has identified and has been instructing us for ages. PIV intercourse is just not the one type 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 might not have the capability for anatomical penetration, in addition to those that desire 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 best way foreplay is usually offered 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 might be inherently pleasurable. Nonetheless, when it’s the main target, dissociation from the physique can happen. Pleasure-oriented intercourse means specializing in pleasure through the total sexual expertise – not simply at one particular level. Additionally, in case you’re centered 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 pieces I’ve written above, you is perhaps asking, “How can I’ve higher intercourse?” Focus on potential scenes, likes, dislikes, hopes, and wishes. Let intercourse be play versus full of “musts” “must haves” and different inflexible approaches. Pleasure and nervousness can’t coexist, so when you’re taking part in, if nervousness arises, voice it to your associate(s) so you may transfer by means of it. If voicing it doesn’t really feel secure, neither is taking part in with this particular person or folks. You may at all times shut down a scene anytime. Sure, even halfway!

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

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© Copyright 2021 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Dr. Denise Renye, Licensed Scientific 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 considerations in regards to the previous article might be directed to the creator or posted as a remark under.

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