Feature Archive

Sex: Why Foreplay Matters (Especially for Women)

Taking the time to let things heat up -- in sex, that is -- can be key to satisfaction.

By Lisa Zamosky

WebMD the Magazine - Feature

Reviewed by Louanne Cole Weston, PhD

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 universities.

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