When we think about sex, our brains often take us to touch. But why should we stop there? Because we are sensory driven, we have the opportunity to be more mindful about how we engage our senses during intimacy. A common conversation I have with clients is about how they experience pleasure in the day to day. One of the best ways to help identify everyday pleasures is to, you guessed it, engage your senses. We can feel pleasure when the sun hits our face, when we smell vibrant flowers and when we play our favorite music. If we can consistently engage our senses in our everyday pleasures, we are opening doors to more sensory experiences and connections in the bedroom.
So, here’s the quick and dirty on the science stuff: The five senses (touch, smell, sight, taste and sound) send messages to the brain about how we are perceiving the world around us. The interplay between our sensory organs and our nervous system keep us safe and healthy. Our sexual functioning (think arousal, orgasms, pleasure, etc.) are also attached to the nervous system. Basically, this means we have a two-way street between the body and the brain around how we not only perceive the world around us, but also how our sensations ignite (of inhibit) our sexual experiences.
So, what do we do with this information? Bring it into the bedroom! The body is super cool. It is our vehicle to having a ton of different experiences, emotions, interactions, thoughts, and pleasures. By bringing our senses into the bedroom, or wherever you prefer to be intimate, we have the opportunity to have more heightened and pleasurable sexual experiences. Your body can literally be a tool during sexual play, so let’s focus on how we can expand your sex life with the tools you already have.
Here are some creative ways to enhance your senses in the bedroom tonight:
- Experiment with variable touch. This can mean playing with the amount of pressure you are applying, the speed in which you are touching your partner(s) and the movements you are using. And don’t just use the palms of your hands. Using your fingertips, legs and mouth can provide a full body experience when you are experimenting with touch.
- Bring in different fabrics. Whether it’s silk sheets, a piece of lace clothing or leather cuffs, feeling these kinds of textures against your skin can heighten your physical awareness.
- Don’t use your hands. Use other objects to touch your partner, such as a feather or a leather riding crop.
- Talk to each other. This is another area where you can have lots of variation. Do you find that whispers in your ear give you goosebumps? Does talking dirty increase your arousal? What about moans? Experimenting with talk can allow you to hear what arouses you.
- Play music. For some, playing music with sexually charged and intimate lyrics can really increase arousal. For others, the beat of the music can help put you in a groove for love making.
- Incorporate scents. Candles, essential oils and incense can be a great addition to your bedroom play. Do you want to feel relaxed in the moment? Integrate eucalyptus or peppermint essential oils. Want to feel a little more sensual? Incorporate sandalwood or musk candles. Feel free to bring in any scent that you are drawn to and that brings you pleasure.
- Open the windows. Bring in the natural smells from outside. Did it just rain? Are the lilacs blooming? Nature can be a turn on for a lot of folks.
- Take a deep breath. Taking in your partner’s natural scent can be especially arousing during intimacy.
- Use your tongue. This seems obvious. But a lot of people forget to use their mouth during intimacy because we get into a routine of the kind of sex we are used to having. By slowing things down and using your tongue to explore, you are opening yourself up to a variety of sexual sensations that you may have not been aware of.
- Bring in food. This may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, especially if you are concerned about making a mess, but I encourage you to be open to this experience! Incorporating food, like whip cream, can add to your pleasure and arousal in so many ways. Think of all the textures you can bring in!
- Eyes Open Sex. The mere sight of watching your partner experience pleasure can be incredibly arousing for a lot of people. And there’s no need to stop there. Take a look at your body and how it’s grooving with your partner’s. The sight of seeing your own body be sexual and sensual can be a major pleasure enhancer.
- Wear something that makes you feel sexual. Feel free to think outside of the box here, because feeling sexual in clothing doesn’t always mean lingerie. Maybe you are wearing a dress or suit that makes you feel empowered. Maybe it’s your favorite shade of lipstick. Whatever it is, integrating something that you feel sexual and sensual wearing can deepen your pleasure during intimacy.
- Keep the lights on. When we keep the lights on, we get a front row view of the sexual play that is happening between us and our partner (or solo sex).
And let’s not forget about sensory deprivation. When one of our senses is out of order, the others immediately step in to compensate. For survival reasons, this makes a ton of sense. For sexual reasons, this makes things a little a hotter. Using blindfolds are a great way to start your introduction into sensory deprivation.
By integrating some of these ideas into the bedroom, I’m confident that you can have a different sexual experience that is filled with heightened pleasure. I encourage you to take control of what could feel good for you and to experiment with your senses until you find one (or more) sensory experiences that increase your pleasure and arousal.
~Michelle Herzog, LMFT, CST