Danielle just turned 52. Her girlfriends threw her a menopause party. They gave her lubes, arousal oils, a body cream “for cougars,” a hot-pink vibrator, a pair of Chinese kegel balls and a one-year subscription to GQ. Danielle was psyched to start this new phase of life, armed with all the needed supplements to keep her vulva sexy and satisfied.
Danielle’s celebration of her sexual health is exemplary. But there is a lot of shopping involved, as the market has us believe that we often need to purchase our pleasure in the form of a pill or cream. There are many pharmacological products that purportedly increase blood flow to the genitals. However, the best way to breathe life into the erogenous zones is by capitalizing on what nature already gave us — our own five senses.
We have sight. What images incite your sexual appetite? Is it your partner sopping wet, wrapped only in a towel? Is it the stranger dressed in pinstripes walking down Pearl Street? Maybe it’s the erotic video you downloaded last night. Don’t be shy to stock your shelves with visual candy.
We have hearing. What sounds stimulate you? Do you like the soothing sounds of rain and ocean waves?
Do you like listening to erotica online? Maybe you prefer the background beats of Paul Oakenfold or Beethoven’s best. As sensitive as your ears may be when your lover is nibbling on them, remember to include sounds of seduction to start you down the road to romance.
We have taste. What flavors tantalize your taste buds? Is it the shrimp tempura appetizer, or the lychee fruit floating in the exotic martini? Maybe it’s the dark chocolate dripping down your partner’s chest. The more your mouth waters with anticipation and satisfaction, the more genital fluids follow suit.
We have smell. What aromas arouse you? Do you like vanilla-scented candles surrounding your bathtub?
How about snickerdoodle cookies baking in the oven? Or the pungent sweat-smell of your partner’s pheromones fresh from the gym? Your olfactory sense can be a great beginning towards the big O.
We have touch. What type of contact turns you on? Do you like soft tickles while cuddling in bed? Or a deep-tissue massage after doing the Triple Bypass cycling event? Or the bubbling pressure of the jaccuzi jet on your genitals? Touch is often the skin’s signal to get the fire ignited.
Our brains and our bodies provide the best sensory tools for getting us in the mood. The market may have us believe that without modern supplements, our vulvas will wither and die. Yes, lube should be every woman’s best friend, and the vibrator should always reside at the bedside. But even if you are the REI of arousal paraphernalia, don’t let your sensual products substitute for the splendor of what you already naturally own. Feel free to fill your shoebox with the latest sex toys, but also keep in mind that sensuality is a feeling that you embody, not something you can buy.
Every vulva may need a little more vavoom, so don’t be shy to add a little CPR to resuscitate your sex life. Whether self-applied or partner-assisted, go ahead and make the most of your five senses. Turn up the iTunes. Pop open the cabernet. Inhale the scent of steamy cinnamon rolls. Gaze into your lover’s eyes. And caress each other all night.
Or deprive one sense to accentuate another. Because teasing can be the ultimate temptation, blindfold your partner as you trace your finger along their skin. Or undress each other, prohibiting touch until you can’t take it.
If you add or subtract, tease or deny, remember to tap into the power of your own pleasure senses and enjoy what nature has to offer.
Send questions for Jenni Skyler, PhD, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Skyler is a sex therapist and board-certified sexologist who runs The Intimacy Institute in Boulder, www.theintimacyinstitute.org.