Want Great Sex? Use Your Brain

Love is the answer, but while you are waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions.  ~Woody Allen

(Editor's Note: I originally published this article on my friend Steve Aitchison's blog Change Your Thoughts but wanted to share it with all of you too.)

Contrary to what you might believe, the brain is the largest and most sensitive organ in the body. (Sorry guys!) Keeping your brain fit and healthy has a far greater impact on your sex life than keeping your body fit and healthy (although that's pretty important too).

If you want to have a great sex life, you need to pay attention to the way your brain works, the differences in the male and female brain, and the sexual power of the brain in between physical encounters.

Great sex doesn't just happen in a brief physical connection. The brain is involved in setting the stage for great sex — fostering a way of life that stimulates you mentally before you are ever aroused physically.

When your brain is healthy, it helps you be kind, intimate, creative, thoughtful, loving, and committed with your partner. If your brain and thinking is dysfunctional, it can cause dysfunctional behaviors like distraction, impulsiveness, negativity, selfishness, or unfaithfulness. Clearly, these behaviors will undermine your chances for intimacy and love — and great sex.

Other brain issues can impact your sex life too, including depression, anxiety, ADHD, PMS, substance abuse, and personality disorders. Left untreated, these issues make it nearly impossible to have healthy unconditional love and sexual relationships. Emotional well-being begins in the brain and sometimes requires chemical or psychological intervention. Managing stress, finding life balance, and learning coping strategies, all will improve your sexual outlook.

The Male and Female Brain

Great sex also hinges on understanding and responding to the differences in the male and female brain. The brain is differently constructed in men and in women; it processes information in a different way, which results in different perceptions, priorities and behavior.

  • The hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsive to sex hormones, is two and a half times larger in men than women. Men are programmed to be more responsive to sexual feelings. Plus, with  lower overall activity in the brain, men are constantly looking for excitement and stimulation.
  • Women have a larger corpus callosum, making them better at multi-tasking. (That's why we can make a grocery list during sex.) Women have more overall brain activity and are always thinking, thinking, thinking. They also have language on both sides of the brain, and therefore can overwhelm men with words. Women also are much more sensitive to smells and touch.
  • Men are always ready for excitement. With the lower activity levels in their brains, and higher testosterone levels, it takes little to get men going physically.
  • Women have so much going on in their brains that they need to be soothed, courted, and encouraged to be in the mood. Mental and physical foreplay are imperative.
  • Men have significantly lower levels of oxytocin, the chemical of trust and bonding, than women have. For women, touch, talking, holding hands and kind looks will increase oxytocin. For men, an orgasm increases oxytocin up to 500%. So to bond and connect, men need sex and women need to talk and touch.

Take Preemptive Action For Great Sex

So how can you use this brain information to improve your sex life? Pay attention to these gender brain differences and use them to your sexual advantage. It will foster not only better sex, but also a more intimate relationship in general.

Men, if you want more sex, talk and touch more. Show affection, kindness, and tenderness. Help increase the oxytocin in your partner's brain.

Women, if you want more intimacy and connection, have more sex. An orgasm stimulates oxytocin production for your man, so give him plenty of them. His brain is wired for stimulation.

Create more sexual excitement in your relationship. Dopamine is the brain chemical involved in “chemistry” and those over-the-top feelings when you first fall in love. It is associated with excitement and motivation in the brain. Want to re-create those feelings? Do something new, edgy, even a bit forbidden to increase dopamine.

The way to sex is through her feet. The area of the brain that feels sexual arousal is right next to the area that feels the feet! Give each other foot rubs as a form of foreplay. Ever wonder why women love shoes so much?

Strengthen memory for frequent sex. Wake up your partner's brain to you and make yourself unforgettable so that sex will be inevitable and often. Do something unexpected or unpredictable to please your partner. Stimulate their hippocampus (memory center) with photos, cards, songs, smells, and letters.

Get the blood flowing mentally and physically. Try an aphrodisiac that will increase blood flow to the brain and genitals. Asian ginseng 200mg, gingko biloba 6-120mg, and L-arginine 3,000 are ways to increase blood flow.

Try some sexy scents for arousal. Certain smells also are aphrodisiacs. For men, lavender, pumpkin pie, doughnut, black licorice, orange, cheese pizza, roast beef, and cinnamon can get him in the mood for more than food. For women, baby powder, cucumber, licorice, lavender, and pumpkin pie will do the trick.

Eat the right foods for sexual health. Almonds, chocolate, cheese, and avocados increase PEA (Phenylethylamine), a neurotransmitter chemical in the brain that causes you to fall madly in love with someone. It is a natural form of amphetamine that floods the regions of the brain involved in sexual excitement. Here are some other foods for great sex:

  • Wild yams increase genital sensitivity.
  • Oysters high in zinc helps produce testosterone and dopamine for stimulation.
  • Garlic contains allicin which increases blood flow to the sexual organs.
  • Figs high in amino acids increases the libido.
  • Chili peppers have capsaicin which stimulates nerve endings and raises heart rate.
  • Celery contains androsterone, a hormone in male sweat that arouses women.
  • Bananas contain the bromelain enzyme, believed to improve male libido.

For most of us, great sex comes pretty naturally during the early stages of an intimate relationship when dopamine is surging through our brains and the world is our oyster — or chocolate bar! However, when our relationships grow older, we really need to use our brains to maintain a healthy, happy, and exciting sex life.

Take the time to understand your partner's brain and how it is different from yours. Accommodate those differences in your partner by offering them what they need for exciting sex and intimate connection. Take care of your mental and emotional health so that you can be fully available to give and respond to your partner.

Use your imagination to create some excitement, novelty, and fun in your sex life. If you take care of your brain and keep it healthy, your body and your partners will thank you in the morning.

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  1. Cathy | Treatment Talk says:

    There are definite differences between men and women and their sexual needs and approaches. You’ve given a great deal of information in this post, Barrie that will be helpful to many people and contribute to their healthy relationship.

  2. Hi Barrie,

    Great article!

    I think that stimulating the brain is really important when it comes to having great sex. Taking the time to actually bond with your partner through talking, kissing and touching helps to make the sex great rather than just plunging right in. I think it is especially helpful to share feelings. I know reading a open and honest love letter I wrote in bed together was a great start. I will certainly keep the tip you shared about foot rubs in mind the next time.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! 🙂

    Irving the Vizier

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Irving,
      Wow, reading a love letter in bed — how nice! I’m sure you made someone’s brain very happy!

  3. Great post, Barrie! Hope my husband reads it…..

  4. So much good (and true) information here! I agree that it is important to be attentive to the differences between the brains of men and women!
    Another thing to keep in mind is that depleted adrenals can also lower libido. Our adrenal system becomes depleted from overwork, too much coffee, not enough sleep, over stimulation, etc… So, it would seem that many of us might need to stimulate our adrenal system – both to increase libido and for overall health. In addition to slowing down a bit, herbs like licorice and Siberian Ginseng (or Eleuthro root) can help to build the adrenals.
    Thanks for another great post!

    • Camille Bullard says:

      I commend you for this well researched article on effective sex. It is timely and much needed as many marriages suffer because of lack of it. As a Marriage & Family Counsellor, I found sex and money tend to challenge relationships and marriages. Therefore, the information presneted is crucial to maintaining and restoring marriages. Sex serves as the glue that bonds couples but it is a two-way exercise. Both partners have to work as a team for the desired results. There is also a need to learn and accept the gender differences that you presented as clearly as possible
      here. Congratulation again and continue to make this quality of research available.
      Camille C. Bullard

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Sarah,
      That’s great information. Thank you for sharing it. Yes, I know that stress and overwork and lack of sleep all contribute to poor sexual health. I didn’t know about the herbs for the adrenals. Time to stock up on ginseng and licorice!

  5. With this title, who wouldn’t want to open and read it! Very interesting research Barrie, did you find it in a book? I especially like the part about men having less brain activity 🙂

    Just kidding, but seriously I do think that if the brain goes or the distance grows, then sex goes too. Either sex can be the only a couple feels “close” or it can be a symptom of too much distance/avoidance of tough topics. So many emotional reasons I can think of but great brain research too.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Marci,
      I had to giggle at that info as well (the male brain activity). I found the info through online research, but it’s been a while since I wrote the article, so I don’t remember all of the sources. (I guess I should document them.) I love researching for these posts — a fun part of my job. So glad you like the post.

  6. OK first of all – great post.
    Second – I always said we f___ with our brains and that’s it. .. the rest is just organs…
    Third – I am glad to find this blog speaking on this matter 🙂
    You are right. Sex and Money are top issues in relationships and in the way one Looks at himself and our partners… the whole “Mo-Jo” in general, so this is not a minor thing – but of the essence.

    Thanks allot

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Very succinctly stated Michael! 🙂 I need to write a post on money and relationships now. Thanks for sparking the idea.

  7. Interesting article! i learned something new… thanks

  8. I always see a picture where it shows that for men sex is in their groin while for us women it is in our brain? I guess for men physical stamina is their key for maximum performance but for us women it is the sense of intimacy which is processed in the brain..

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      I don’t know if it’s all in the groin for men, but that’s certainly powerful for them. Emotions seem to be more powerful for women. I think the most exciting part of a sexual relationship is communication — where both people strive to understand and please the other person.

  9. Roswell Gallagher says:

    Wow! I’ve never been so informed as far as the science of sexual interaction goes. I must say this is a very, very informative post you’ve got here and I can’t wait to share this with my friends. I’m sure this is going to be a very interesting topic over an ice-cold beer tomorrow night.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Roswell,
      I’d sure like to be a fly on the wall at that get-together! I hope you put all of the info to good use. 🙂

  10. Really great post. It is definitely important to be mindful of the differences between men and women. It’s also important to remember that every guy/girl are different, so be willing to explore and experiment to find what fits best for each individual.

    All the tips are great, and I would also add more of an emphasis on using language. The right kind of “sex talk” can make a huge difference.

    Sex obviously isn’t just intercourse, there is a whole CONTEXT that needs to be taken into account: environment, mood, language, pace, rhythm, passion, intimacy, etc.

  11. What a great post title- how can you not read it! Excellent post and some really useful and well researched advice, I would emphasise the last point you made: imagination – maybe the most powerful aphrodisiac.

    Thanks Barrie as always a pleasure.

  12. Thanks for the article. I feel enlightened in understanding more in how the brain processes feelings.

  13. so, there is a difference between men and women : Is there also a difference among cultures ,, men in east and west 🙂