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Sex and the Senses

by Dr. Barb DePree

Sex is all about the senses. That’s why “sex” is the fraternal twin of “sensual,” which broadly refers to “voluptuous gratification of the senses.”

Now, I ask you, what is more voluptuously gratifying to the senses than sex?

Trouble is, sometimes our senses get a little dull. They need a tune-up. They need variety and stimulation. They need us to pay attention.

We can pay attention to our senses, for example, by noticing the glint of sun on water, the smell of coffee in the morning, a warm breeze on the skin, a meadowlark singing on the fencepost.

But sex is where the senses can have a field day. We tend to rely on touch when we make love—and that’s a lovely place to start. As we mentioned before, the skin is our largest sex organ, so it makes sense to cultivate that sensory garden.

We do, however, have four other delicious sensory organs to awaken. And since our menopausal bodies need more stimulation and a longer runway these days, sexually speaking, why not incorporate other types of sensory delights into our lovemaking? This can serve several purposes—becoming more attuned to the senses we don’t rely on as much; introducing playfulness and novelty into our lovemaking; and creating the more erotic and stimulating environment that helps get us airborn, so to speak.

Here are a few suggestions for cultivating the garden of your senses during sex. If you come up with other suggestions, please share!

Smell. Most of us rarely think about engaging the sense of smell when we make love. Sure, it’s nice to have, but doesn’t seem critical to performance in the bedroom.

Smell may be subtle indeed, but that doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. For one thing, it’s closely linked to memory. The part of the brain that registers scents nestles right next to the limbic system that controls emotion and memory. That’s why a certain smell is often linked to an experience or a person. And that’s the basis of aromatherapy—using certain scents to trigger certain emotion.

We can use this to our advantage in our love life. Is there a scent that you associate with particularly happy or romantic times? I love the smell of jasmine because it reminds me of a wonderful visit to the city of Oaxaca in Mexico. A whiff of jasmine, and I’m transported right back to the Zócalo in the middle of town.

Here are a couple ways to incorporate smell into your love life:

  • Get some good-quality essential oils and suffuse the room with scent while you make love. Lavender and sage are said to be relaxing; rosemary and citrus are energizing. (I always associate citrus with cleanliness and freshness.) Jasmine, rose, gardenia, and sandalwood are romantic. What works for you?
  • We are also subliminally drawn to the smell of our partner. During lovemaking, pay attention to the scent of his or her exhalation, the smell of his or her skin and the way that scent varies throughout the body. Get to know how your partner smells. Would you recognize that scent in a crowd?

Taste. This is probably another sense that we don’t incorporate well into sex. One way to develop our taste for sex might be to try some foods that are considered aphrodisiacs.

Some foods simply look suggestive, like fresh figs or asparagus, while other foods actually increase blood flow to the genitals. Some, like avocado and asparagus, do both.

The idea isn’t to eat until you’re stuffed. (Romantic candle-light dinners are bad for that.) The idea is to use the sight and taste of food to stimulate your senses and your passions. So maybe create a lush tray of aphrodisiacs to sample in bed. Or to feed each other. Or to slowly undress while you sample and feed each others.

Here are the top aphrodisiacs:

  • Red wine. Ahhhh. It relaxes and lowers inhibitions. Yes, and it contains antioxidants and boosts blood flow.
  • Chocolate. Ever the food of passion, chocolate contains a “love chemical” that releases dopamine in the brain. It also contains an element of serotonin, which produces feelings of euphoria and well-being. Make yours dark and creamy.
  • Pomegranate. Also full of antioxidants, not to mention beautiful and red and luscious.
  • Avocado.  Pairs of these pear-shaped fruits hanging on the tree reminded the Aztecs of testicles. Thus, they were banned by Spanish priests. You can enjoy these subtly hued and creamy fruits without guilt, however.
  • Oysters. Silver, slippery, full of zinc (cranks up testosterone production) and decadent.
  • Chilies. Some say that the heat-inducing capsaicin in red chilies increases blood flow and stimulates nerve endings. No argument there, just take it easy. Fiery red chilies on the sex tray would look passionate, at least.
We’ll give you some time to, um, digest these tips for now. More sensual suggestions in the next post.

1 comment

  • Vanilla – Love the scent – So warm and sweet and inviting

    Donna on

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