Your Brain On Sex: 4 Ways To Use Human Physiology In Your Bedroom

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brain and sex
Learn how to use your most powerful organ — your brain — to have smarter sex.

In an attempt to break free from this cycle, some couples are turning to Karezza, a centuries old practice that involves "gentle intercourse, with lots of affection and relaxation, but without the goal of orgasm," Marnia explains. Basically, couples engage in lots of touching, foreplay and even (gentle) sex, but forgo orgasm, at least for three weeks at a time. Couples report a deepened sense of bonding and closeness, without the dopamine roller-coaster that orgasms can set in motion.

If You Think It, You Will Come.

Dr. Barry Komisaruk, Ph.D., a sex researcher at Rutgers, was intrigued by women who claimed they could "think" their way to orgasm — no masturbation, no partner, no outside stimulus at all. So he viewed scans of their brains when they had orgasms by "thinking" and when they had orgasms from manual masturbation. The scans showed the exact same pattern of response. "I was surprised that women could do this," says author Kayt Sukel, who interviewed Komisaruk for her book. "But when I informally surveyed my small group of girlfriends, about a third confirmed that they could think their way to orgasm!" Sukel even convinced one friend to "think" her way to orgasm in front of her. "It took a few margaritas, but she did it," Sukel says.

"Unfortunately, this is not something we are trained to do or encouraged to do," Sukel says. "but it shows us that fantasy is our friend and can help improve arousal and get us to faster, bigger, better orgasm." Having trouble getting in the mood during sex? Practice fantasizing when you're alone. The more you do it, the easier it gets, and you can start to use the same mindfulness when you're with a partner.

Boost Your "Bonding" Chemical

When a woman gives birth, her brain is flooded with oxytocin, a wonderful little chemical that causes her to bond with her child and to actually forget some of the painful stressful experiences of childbirth. Oxytocin decreases stress and anxiety and increases feelings of trust. In fact, in a study led by Ernst Fehr of the University of Zurich, men who inhaled a nasal spray of oxytocin gave more money to partners in a risky investment game than men who inhaled a placebo. Oxytocin is released in mass quantities during — you guessed it — sex. In fact, after orgasm, a man's oxytocin levels are raised more than 500 percent.

"Oxytocin has long been known to aid in pair-bonding," says Kristen Mark. "Having pleasurable sex that released oxytocin may therefore increase the bond in couples." So while dopamine is associated with the heady euphoria of "new love," some scientists theorize that over time it is replaced with oxytocin, the safe, trusting calm love of long-term monogamous couples. Long-term love can be a wonderful thing, but is it possible to get a little dopamine back in the bedroom? Yes, with novelty. According to Michael Castleman, a leading sex writer and the founder of GreatSexAfter40.com, dopamine is directly affected when you and your partner try something new. So try a new position; go away for the weekend and have sex in a new bed; or even just try a new restaurant together. If you can keep dopamine and oxytocin flowing, you've truly got the secret to hot sex forever.

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