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Musical aphrodisiac

How our favourite tunes can turn us on and enhance our sexual experience

Have you ever felt turned on while listening to music? What kind of music was it? Where were you, and what were you doing? Was it while dancing to reggaeton in a club? While cheering at a show of your favourite rock band? While watching a romantic movie with dramatic classical music?

Many of us have experienced how music can “bring us in the mood”. Of course there are often many contextual factors that contributed to our arousal: an exciting light show, an attractive person close to us, a drink or two…

But what about the power of music on its own? What about it makes us feel all lit up inside?

In celebration of World Music Day, we explored what research has to stay on the subject.

The most straight forward answer came from a neurological experiment carried out by researchers at McGill University. The study scanned the brains of people while they listened to their favourite music. And the incredible thing they found was that after people listen to songs that they love so much that they give them goosebumps: their brain’s were flooded with dopamine!

But it’s not just the pleasure system of the brain that music can influence. Neuropsychologist Dr. Rhonda Freeman has found that it also stimulates the bonding and limbic systems of our brain.

As a side effect of stimulating our brain, listening to music (as well as dancing to it) can also arouse our body: by speeding up our breathing and increasing our heart rate.

What the various studies show is that music arouses the same parts of our brain that get excited by things like tasty food, alcohol, drugs… and sex!

Beyond all these physical impacts, we came across an insightful list of 9 socio-psychological ways in which music can have a positive impact on our sexual experiences put together by Dr. David W. Wahl. Here they are in our own words:

Diminishing inhibition Music can awaken a freeing and spontaneous feeling that can help us to let go of some of our sexual inhibitions that may have held us back from experiencing more sexual pleasure

Reducing stress Music has been proven to have the power to reduce stress, which can be very helpful as stress can significantly diminish our sexual desire, arousal and pleasure (see our previous blog about the relationship between stress and sex). Distracting our mind Music can distract us from worries or negative thoughts or emotions such as anxiety or sadness, for example related to our body image, pain or our level of experience. Focusing our attention Music can help to focus on all the things that can increase relaxation and pleasure: on our breathing, the movement of our body, our connection with another person (if present), and above all: on our sensations. Inspiring rhythm Music consists of auditory rhythms which can inspire rhythm in our movements. As our bodies need time for physical arousal to reach highs, steady rhythms (that increase in speed) can greatly enhance pleasure. Increasing confidence Music that excites us and that helps us to feel good can give us a significant boost in confidence. And it’s no secret that feeling good and confident tends to have a very positive impact on sexual satisfaction! Setting the mood Music can be very helpful to create a sensual or sexual context, which can be especially helpful if you feel low sexual desire but you do want to experience sensual or sexual pleasure or connection with someone else. Arousing us emotionally Music can arouse many different types of emotions in us. And this emotional excitement - whether it is joy, calm, passion or something else - can set the mood for different types of sexual experiences. Feeling connected Music can make us feel more intimate with a sexual partner. In addition, during any type of sex - solo or partnered - it can also inspire a deeper feeling of connection: to peers, humanity or even life in general.

To this list we add: Inspiring variety Music can guide us to discover many different flavours of sexual pleasure. Because of all the factors explained above, different types of music can set a different mood, create a different context, inspire different physical states and different states of mind. All of this can inspire us to explore and bring an exciting variety to our sexual experiences. And variety and novelty is a great turn on itself for many people!

Finally, a 2012 study by music psychologist Dr. Daniel Mullensiefen of Goldsmiths University in London found that close to half of all the study participants reported that certain songs turned them on more than the touch of their partner! That's quite something!

So the next time you make time for self-pleasuring or start making out with a partner, you might choose to hit play on a collection of tunes simply to create some sound privacy from family members, kids or housemates.

But - if you’d like to enjoy the additional benefit of a dopamine boost and some or all of the other benefits, which only take place if the music playing "does it for you" - it pays off to put together a personal playlist of Turn-on-Tunes.

If you are in a relationship, it can obviously also be an interesting activity to create a playlist together. You might however be surprised to discover how your all-time- favourite is a huge turn-off for your lover! So be prepared that it might be quite the adventure to find several musical aphrodisiacs that get you both warmed up.


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