Want to take things up a notch in bed? Turn to sensory play, one of the 2023 sex trends literally and figuratively tickling couples' fancies.
The term goes beyond fiddling with the best sex toys in your nightstand. It's about going the extra mile for an intimate and lively encounter, so you might want to consider a massage candle...or maybe even a blindfold?
"Sensory play is your secret to success," says Anne More, CSB and certified Erotic Blueprint Coach. "When you start to explore touch and sensation in whole new ways, not only do you create new pathways to turn-on and orgasm, but you actually rewire your body for more pleasure, more ways!"
Sounds like a win-win, right? Not only does the approach focus on pleasure, but it makes frisky fun between partners all the more meaningful.
Anne More is a CSB and certified Erotic Blueprint Coach. According to her website, she is a somatic sexual educator specializing in sexual desire and sexual awakening for everyone.
"Sensory play is about more than just touch," says Pippa Murphy, sex and relationship expert at condoms.uk. "It’s about heightening all the senses so that the entire body is engaged in the experience of sex."
Pippa Murphy is a sex and relationship expert at condoms.uk, which provides access to safe and trusted brands within the sexual health industry, as well as information about your sex health.
Curious to learn more? Read on for all the sexpert-backed facts you need to know before trying.
What is sensory play?
Sensory play is just as it sounds—see what we did there?—enhancing your sight, sound, taste, touch and smell during a sexual encounter, whether it'd be tickling your partner with a feather, incorporating a few gentle bites into your kisses or perhaps indulging in some sex chocolates.
As Melissa Stone of Joy Love Dolls insists, igniting the senses "plays a significant role in creating arousal and enjoying sex."
Melissa Stone is a sex and relationship expert at Joy Love Dolls, the "world's leading authority on sexual exploration, adult toys and realistic dolls.
And, if you ask Angie Rowntree, the founder and director of Sssh.com, chances are you're already engaging in sensory play without even knowing it.
But there are no specific rules for engaging in the technique—it's all about how you feel. Keep what works and nix what doesn't.
"Get creative! The key word here is 'play,'" says More. "How many different ways can you explore each other’s bodies? And you’re not limited to hands or even conventional sex toys like vibrators or wands. Anything that creates a sensation, can become an erotic sensation item."
Angie Rowntree is the founder and director of the award-winning site Sssh.com, the "premier destination for sex-positive, ethical porn made from a woman's point of view."
How do you try sensory play?
Good news, folks: you can do whatever you'd like. Whether it's caressing body parts with a feather, running an ice cube across specific pleasure points or turning on some music that gets you in the mood, there's no right or wrong way to try this sex trend.
"You can incorporate sensory play into pretty much any part of your sexual experience," Murphy insists.
But if you're looking for specifics, More suggests switching things up and keeping an open mind.
"Try different textures, temperatures, amounts of pressure, and types of touch," she says. "Often our brain has a lot of fixed ideas and judgment about what our body 'should' and 'shouldn’t' like. Try to set aside all judgment and preconceived notions, and just breathe and feel. You may be surprised by what your body loves"
What are the benefits of sensory play?
According to the pros, there are quite a few reasons to give things a try. If you need a little extra convincing, here's what they particularly love about the technique:
1. Sensory play builds anticipation
"Whether it's chocolate syrup drizzled over your partner's body or ice cubes on their nipples, there are endless ways to increase anticipation for what comes next during sex...and after," Murphy says. "This can make foreplay more exciting for both partners, as well as make actual intercourse more memorable."
2. Sensory play is subjective
You're open to interpretation with this, and options abound.
"Sensory or Sensation Play can encompass a wide range of potential activities that can easily integrate into both “vanilla” and more kinky sex," Rowntree says. "As long as you and your partner are both on board, the possibilities for exploration are pretty boundless."
3. Sensory play strengths communication
We told you the professionals insist talking about sex strengthens relationships.
"When you discuss these new sensations with your partner, this can also help couples become more comfortable communicating with each other regarding their sexual needs which can lead to a stronger intimate connection," Stone says.
4. You'll find new sensations
"Your body becomes more sensitive to pleasure, and parts of your body that might have felt offline or numb before come alive with sensation," More says.
To get a little scientific for a moment, this is, according to More, because we have neuroplasticity in our brains (the ability to grow new neurons). When you pay attention as you touch either your body or your partner's, you actually create new neural pathways between your brain and your body.
A sensory play reminder
"Always talk to your partner first and ensure that you are both on the same page. As we always say, great sex starts with open and honest communication and always involves enthusiastic consent throughout, with limits respected," Rowntree says.
Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.
Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few.
When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.
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