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Dr. H, Column Writer

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Dear Dr. H,

What’s the purpose of foreplay?

Dear student,

The purpose of foreplay, is to have fun… Not everyone is ready for intercourse right from the get-go, so foreplay builds the excitement, increases blood flow to the genitals as preparation for sex and creates sexual tension that a lot of people really enjoy (often referred to as “teasing”). I am not a huge of the term “foreplay,” as it assumes that whatever those activities you partake in for fun, pleasure or enjoyment are just a precursor to the “main event.” Sex shouldn’t be viewed as the endgame for each and every time you fantasize about, flirt with, or touch someone that you’re into. Making out for making out’s sake is time well spent to—assuming that the make out session is just a layover on your journey to the final destination of penetration is not problematic.

Most people consider only what happens in the bedroom a part of foreplay—not so! The buildup of sexual tension can occur days or hours before you might even see the person you’re playing with. Take long distance relationships, for example: Don’t you get excited in the days leading up to seeing your special someone after a bit of time away? Doesn’t each phone call, text message and passing thought of them create a bit more sexual tension? Foreplay.

I hate to blame the media again, but wow, most movies do a real disservice when portraying sex. There is almost never any foreplay—people have sex after, like, 30 seconds of kissing.  While some people are into that, or sometimes the progression is that quick, it’s just not always the case and it’s best to avoid the false expectation that sex comes after kissing, so the quicker that goes by, the quicker you can have sex. Sometimes in the beginning of a relationship, the newness is all the excitement people need as foreplay.  Generally, that’s a pretty unrealistic representation of how many people operate. It perpetuates the idea that penetrative sex only is what constitutes as a respectable sexual experience, particularly for straight guys. Since many women don’t climax from penetrative sex alone, bypassing foreplay is a major misstep in making sure everyone is having an enjoyable time. Foreplay is a great way to explore other ways of creating sexual excitement and tension in your relationship. There’s a lot more to sex than what the movies or porn will have you believe. If you care about the person you’re with, and the pleasure they experience, ask ‘em what they’re into. You might find that it expands what you originally had in mind for what sex looks like, and it might even take place with your clothes on and outside of the bedroom. Get creative.


Dear Dr. H,

How frequently should you get yourself tested?

Dear Student,

Test now, test often… or, as often as you change partners. If you’ve been tested previously and were STI free, but you’ve had unprotected sex with other people since then, you should get tested to confirm your status now. Many STIs are asymptomatic, and because STIs are so common, we can’t assume that no symptoms means we’re in the clear. If you had a one-night stand and didn’t use a condom, get tested. If you’ve ended a long term relationship where condoms weren’t always used and want to rest assured you are STI-free for your next sexual encounter, get tested. If you’re having unprotected sex with someone and aren’t sure whether they are having sex with someone else, get tested. Knowing your status is a great way to feel empowered to check in with potential partners about their status. Testing is available on campus, through the Student Medical and Counseling Center (SMaCC) and at the Ellensburg Planned Parenthood. The more people that test regularly, the better we can prevent the spread of STIs.

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