More and more research is being done these days about the powerful effects of human touch, with study subjects ranging from newborns to NBA basketball players to sexually dysfunctional couples. And what researchers are finding is that touch is such a basic human need it should not be neglected. One scientist, Tiffany Field, PhD, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, goes so far as to recommend getting some sort of touch experience for at least 10 to 15 minutes every day!
Whether by hug, massage, or a pat on the back, connecting physically with another person signals safety and trust; it’s so soothing that it can actually reduce stress and anxiety and lower blood pressure. That’s because touching releases two powerful natural hormones, oxytocin and serotonin. Known as the “love hormone” oxytocin (not to be confused with the pain-killer oxycontin) is thought to be connected to compassion, while serotonin increases feelings of pleasure or rewards.
Needless to say, intimate touching can also enhance your sex life. But it’s like everything else in our busy lives; if it’s not on our minds, we probably aren’t doing it as much as we should. Well, maybe it’s time to start.
Here are some suggestions:
- Next time your partner has had a hard day, offer to give a nice massage. (More about “sexy massages” in a later post!) Make an “appointment” for 15 minutes; then go into the bedroom, shut the door, put on some nice relaxing music and just rub your partner's back and shoulders, kneading gently in tense areas. (If you happen to have a tennis ball, it feels great to roll it over the neck!)
- Offer a big surprise bear hug the next time your partner walks into the room. You’ll probably get a reaction like, “What’s that for?” so be prepared to answer with something complimentary. And remember: Giving a hug feels just as good as getting one.
- When you’re driving somewhere in the car, or even out on a walk, reach over and grab your partner’s hand and just hold it for a few minutes, lightly stroking his fingers.
The more you start doing things like this, the more natural it will feel. And before you know it, that hug will lead to a caress… and the caress will lead to a kiss… and the kiss will lead to who knows what!
But it all begins with that one little touch.
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten. Read more about and from her here.