With Valentines Day approaching I thought it would be a good idea to explore the link between sexual arousal and aromatherapy. Instead of getting too scientific on you, I’m going to veer off a bit from my typical style of writing and provide you with some practical tips to apply this Valentine’s Day. I bet I can guess what you’re thinking, “what does a scientist know about sexual arousal”? Would you believe that sex neuroscience is actually quite a large field of investigation? Sex is one of those things that captivates people’s attention and brings up a lot of why questions. Believe it or not, for every why question that you have about sex, there’s likely a sex scientist who’s turned to the brain to answer that same question. In fact, as a clinical neuroscientist I’ve had the opportunity to speak on the radio, write for a few sexual health blogs, appear in magazine articles and a variety of other media formats discussing sex and the brain. So I hope I’ve convinced you that what you’re about to read is the real deal and strongly grounded in the scientific literature.
Can Aromatherapy Enhance Our Sex Life?
Let’s first start off with a couple of psychological dimensions that can interfere with human sexual arousal, then we’ll explore how my step-by-step guide to more fulfilling sex can help. Feeling anxious or depressed, experiencing changes in confidence levels, doubt, disappointment, negative body image, unrealistic expectations regarding sexual performance, and even adjustment to new living conditions can all illicit psychological stress that interferes with our arousal. Even success and positive change can be stressful and have the same impact. Luckily coping methods, like using aromatherapy, that help us regulate our stress response can also help lift some of the effects that psychological distress has on sexual desire and arousal. The end goal is to simply calm your body and mind, focus on the here and now and fully enjoy the moment.
Here are some neuroscience-guided tips that can help you do just that and have a sensual valentine’s day and more fulfilled sex life.
1. Ease the stressors in your life by taking them as opportunities to ask your partner for support. By doing so your brain releases the neurhormone oxytocin, which plays an important role in bonding, stress regulation and even orgasms. Doing this before sex is a great way to ease your mind and allow you to focus your attention on experiencing pleasure.
2. Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques prior to, during and after sex. Take a moment to breath and let your brain feel all of the sensations that you’re experiencing. Don’t let your mind wander beyond the here and now.
3. Openly communicate with your partner about what does and doesn’t feel good.
4. Slow down, sex isn’t a race.
5. Stop thinking orgasm and start thinking whole body pleasure. Explore other zones of stimulation apart from just your genitals. Experiment with different types of touch, from soft and warm embraces to being a little bit more rough and vigorous.
6. Go beyond touch and use all of your senses by bringing taste and smell into your intimate experience.
- Sip a glass of red wine while your partner focuses on exploring other parts of your body. But try not to overindulge too much; while red wine has been shown to increase arousal, higher doses can interfere with orgasm.
- Integrate dark chocolate into your play and allow the rich taste to center you in the here and now.
Smell: this is where our favorite essential oils come into play. Turn on your essential oil diffuser and add a combination of the following oils.
- Stimulate your sympathetic nervous system and increase alertness with jasmine essential oil.
- Increase sexual desire with neroli essential oil.
- Calm your cardiovascular system with ylang ylang.
- Increase alertness, attentiveness and vigor with sandalwood.
- Regulate your emotions and induce a sense of calmness and relaxation by using rose oil.
There you have it, neuroscience guided tips for a sensual valentines day. It’s time to awaken your senses and experience pleasure beyond just the orgasm.