What Is Sensory Play for Adults in the Bedroom?
When was the last time you were truly conscious of all your senses during sex? Have you ever slowed down and noticed every tiny detail of an intimate experience? Perhaps you should try to achieve sensory sex.
What is sensory sex?
By honing into all our senses during a sexual encounter, rather than zoning out, we can experience a host of benefits, from better orgasms to closer relationships.
"Purposefully paying attention to our senses can be a meditative act that can help reduce activation of the sympathetic—'flight-or-fight'—nervous system and increase oxytocin, or the 'love hormone,''' said Sarah Melancon, Ph.D., a sociologist and clinical sexologist for the website SexToyCollective, based in Maroubra, New South Wales, Australia.
"In the context of a relationship, sensory cues can help decrease stress and increase attraction," Melancon said.
How can adults play with smell during sex?
"Think of it as chemical communication," said Carmel Jones, a sex and relationship expert in Philadelphia who writes about relationships, sex and dating on her website, the Big Fling.
"Just like touch and sound are used to communicate to others, so can taste and smell. The pheromones emitted through sweat glands play a major role in sexual attraction and are used as a signal to attract your partner," Jones shared.
The role of pheromones in human attraction is not fully understood, but you can still enhance your foreplay with scent. Melancon suggested incorporating the sense of smell in the following ways:
- Experiment with different soaps, body sprays, colognes or perfumes. These can interact with your natural body scent, and some scents are better than others.
- If your partner likes the smell of sweat, go for a jog before heading into the bedroom.
- Use candles or aromatherapy. There is some evidence that essential oils can improve sexual function. Try sensual scents such as cinnamon, rose or jasmine.
What kind of music works well for sensory sex?
A sexy playlist may play an important role when first hooking up with someone. Thus, it's important to maintain the effort to keep the music playing as your relationship progresses.
"Sound is one of our most primal senses but it is also the one sense that is most often relegated to the background," explained Kala Maxym, the owner and chief event orchestrator of Five Senses Tastings, a boutique special events company in Los Angeles that curates sensory wellness events.
She recommended customizing an aural experience based on the feeling of the moment. You can curate different playlists for different types of intimate moments, from slow and romantic to silly and playful to hot and passionate. Music is an aphrodisiac that can help you create different sensual energy with your partner.
"Beyond that, make sure to pay the closest attention to the smallest of sounds," Maxym suggested. "Really tune in to your partner's breathing, the sound of your fingernails on his or her back, and the sounds of the world around you, especially sounds of nature if you can hear them."
How does taste stimulate adults in the bedroom?
Just as we can explore other cultures through food, we can explore our partners through taste. Even if you don't particularly get turned on by the taste of another person, you can engage your taste buds in other ways.
Many sex shops sell edible chocolate body paint, which can be a great activity for foreplay or the main act itself. Flavored lubes and condoms can be exciting, too, but check the ingredients list and ensure they're body-safe.
Some of these flavored products aren't meant to go on the genitals and may be better delegated to foreplay.
If you don't have time to shop for intimate, tasty treats, you can explore your partner's body directly with your tongue, not just on their genitals for oral sex but everywhere. This is a sexy strategy to find out where your lover hides all their erogenous zones.
Tune in to get turned on
All five senses play huge roles in sexual stimulation, but we often focus most on touch and sight, placing taste, sound and scent in the background.
To kick things up a notch, try some gentle sensory deprivation on your consenting adult partner. For example, use a blindfold or silk scarf to block your partner's sense of sight and find out how their other senses become heightened to make up for the loss.
You can also have your partner wear headphones and listen to a romantic playlist you curated, or gently restrain them with rope or cuffs so their ability to touch is taken away.
Before experimenting with sensory play, though, make sure you have your partner's full consent and you agree on a safe word if they become uncomfortable for any reason.
Playing with the senses is sexy, but only if your partner wants to as well.