Being fully aware of all the different sensations in the bedroom allows us to fully savor what we experience through our senses. Plus, being grounded in the present moment with greater awareness can ultimately enhance our pleasure and intimacy in the bedroom.
If you are your partner are looking to switch things up in the bedroom, or simply become more attuned to one another, sensation play may be precisely what you need to add some excitement to your sex life.
In this beginner’s guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about sensation play, including a range of sensory play devices you can use to enhance your pleasure, and I’ll share several notable benefits of sexual sensory stimulation.
What is Sensation Play?
As you know, we have five senses—touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing. Sensation play involves fully engaging the senses during sexual intercourse to increase pleasure.
Sexual acts that involve making you become more aware of physical sensations through auditory, impact, or visual play can create sexual tension and increase excitement. Ultimately this leads to more intense orgasms, less sexual difficulties, more confidence, and overall a better time in bed!
You can experiment with how many senses you heighten during sex to learn what you like and what you don’t. You may find that you enjoy engaging in activities involving one, two, or possibly all of your senses at once. In addition to this, there’s also sensory deprivation.
Sensory deprivation is the act of taking away or “depriving” a person of certain senses. This is often used during sensory games to stifle certain senses while also heightening others even more. This is mostly done through the sight sense, though it can stimulate almost all of the 5 senses.
Vanilla vs BDSM
Sensation play can be as intense or gentle as you want it to be. Experimentation is key to determining what works best for you. If you’re more vanilla, that doesn’t mean that sensation play isn’t something you can try. It just means that the intensity in which you do things won’t be as high as a couple that’s into BDSM.
For vanilla couples, the use of feathers, blindfolds, and foods are enjoyable for a more subtle play. Gentle and light can be extremely erotic for those who love the anticipation and slow buildup of sexual tension.
With BDSM, there is some form of power dynamic involved, as well as physical or psychological restraint or punishments. Typically one partner is a Dominant (Dom) that controls every aspect of the submissive’s (sub) pleasure along with the incorporation of sexual pain is what takes things out of the vanilla territory.
Having the Dom take control over the submissive partner’s pleasure and stimulating them by restraint, pain, or sensory deprivation can take sensation games up a notch. For example, telling a partner not to orgasm when spanking them or having them keep still as you alternate between using wax and ice on their body are great examples of kinky sensation play.
The Five Senses
Intentional touches that are used to drag pleasure out of your partner can be one of the most sensual experiences you can have during sex. Depending on your kink level, you can do a variety of things to heighten your touch sense.
- Nipple play– Nipple play encompasses the stimulation of your nipples. Take sensation games to the next level by giving the nipples gentle attention before using something like nipple clamps to shock the nerve endings in that area. This is also a perfect time to incorporate temperature play.
- Temperature– This is the act of alternating between hot and cold to stimulate you or your partner’s body into a state of arousal. You can use wax, ice, glass sex toys, a warming lube, cold water, and essentially anything cold or hot to heighten your senses. You can combine this with nipple play by running an ice cube on and around the nipple to create a sensual sensation between pain and pleasure.
- Impact play– This type of play is usually done by BDSM-friendly people as impact play is the act of using your hands or certain toys to strike erogenous zones of your partner—Think spanking, flogging, whipping, etc. Generally, a person’s thigh or butt are common areas but other spots can also receive attention to achieve sexual gratification.
Taking away your sense of sight during sex can be an exhilarating experience. Sensory deprivation can leave you wondering where your partner’s touch will land next, leaving you sweating from anticipation!
Feeling your partner’s breath on the neck, a trail of a finger, or a lick across your body without you being able to see them can make things more intense and heighten your arousal. Dimming the lights or using a blindfold can help you achieve this.
Another tool you can try to engage your sight sense is a mirror. Positioning yourself and your partner in front of a mirror so you can see every sensual act can be erotic and exciting as you watch pleasure take over.
There’s a reason that some songs fall firmly into the baby-making category. Whether it’s because of the song lyrics themselves or the enticing beat, there are just some songs that you wouldn’t mind having on repeat in the bedroom. Adult movies are also a good way to play off of your auditory sense.
Hearing the pleasure of another couple in the background of your own sexual stimulation is a turn-on for some people. Additionally, less commonly known, ASMR is a tactic you can use during sensory games.
There’s a group of people who get that tingly pleasurable feeling when they hear certain ASMR sounds. You can play off of this feeling by using sounds you like in the bedroom and adding teasing touches in tandem with it.
Have you ever thought about how people tend to be attracted to those who smell better? We use smell as a strong indicator of attractiveness, so it only makes sense that smell can influence arousal too. Smells are often tied to memories, so using scents in the bedroom tied to sexy or intimate memories can heighten your experience.
Maybe a lavender candle was lit the first time you had sex with your partner, or fresh linen reminds you of that time you both got frisky in the movie theater bathroom. Whatever it is, using scent is a subtle way of stimulating a different form of pleasure.
Also, the smell of your partner’s arousal can be a huge turn-on too. Being able to smell the excitement from your partner can help you with your own sexual gratification. For more information on the science behind this, click here.
This is commonly known sense to heighten during sex or foreplay for most people since it does fall on the vanilla side of things. For the taste sense, incorporating anything that awakens your taste buds in a good way is key.
There is a great deal of pleasure to be found in a good meal, so what better way to heighten the orgasmic feeling good food can bring than by eating off of your partner.
Foods like strawberries, chocolate, and whip cream are always great places to start. The sensual act of licking food off of your partner or feeding them food is what engaging in the taste sense is all about. You can also use flavored lube when giving oral to spice things up.
What You Can Use
Floggers or whips are a great way to engage with your touch sense. For some people, there’s pleasure to be found in pain. So experimenting with toys that can cause a slight bite is a perfect example of sensory stimulation.
When trying impact play, start by using gentle touch first, then following that softness with the sharp sting of a flogger or whip. This transition from gentle to rough can increase pleasure and be exciting for both partners.
You can use a feather tickler in tandem with a flogger to help with the gentle aspect of things. If you find a flogger or whip too intense at times, spanking can work as well since you can easily control the pressure being exerted.
If you don’t have one already, choose a safe word. A safe word is necessary when having rough sex or introducing kinks into the bedroom to maintain comfortability and safety.
A blindfold can elevate your experience, adding spontaneity and anticipation when done right. When blindfolding someone, make sure that it’s not too tight. No one wants a blindfold pressing uncomfortably against their eyes during the entire session.
Also, once your partner is blindfolded, try to touch them in different spots all around the body. Behind the knees or the scalp are less commonly known erogenous zones that are definitely worth giving attention to.
Wax is one of the slightly more intense areas of sensory play. This might not appeal to everyone and can prove to be painful if not done right. So, if this is your first time using wax during sex, it may be best to try other forms of play first. To try this particular kink, you’ll heat the wax candle of your choice and pour it slowly on yourself or your partner.
Wax play is usually used by those a part of the BDSM community because of its power-play dynamics. Between the temperature of the wax and the anticipation of it sliding down your skin, wax play can bring your sex life to the next level.
Before you start, make sure you’re using a soy or paraffin candle as it’s less prone to irritating your skin or becoming too hot. Safety is always the first priority. To make things even more risque, alternate between using ice and wax. The change between cold to hot and vice versa can feel explosive.
What are the Benefits of Sensation Play?
Communication is key when it comes to sensory play. You and your partner are required to listen to each other. Being able to communicate when something does or doesn’t feel good is very important because that can make the difference between subpar foreplay and great foreplay.
So it only makes sense that you and your partner excel in the communication department during this time. Asking your partner if they like something or telling them to do more or less is great communication. While it may not be as vanilla as other communication tactics, it’s still helpful nonetheless.
Improves Sexual Difficulties
Sensory play is one big round of foreplay essentially. It’s a fun way to prepare you before the main course and an even better way to help people who have difficulties getting aroused or experience erectile dysfunction.
How? Because it slows things down and takes the pressure off. Instead of jumping right to sex, sensory play creates a buildup of pleasure that will hopefully help you to have a better time when actually having sex.
Along with a lot of foreplay, you can combat sexual difficulties with sex toys, lube, or medications like Cialis that help with issues such as erectile dysfunction. To find the best solution for you, do your best to determine the issue, be honest when communicating with your partner, and seek professional help if necessary.
To engage in sensory play means to place a lot of trust in your partner and vice versa. You are trusting them to keep you safe while taking you to heights that you may have never explored before.
Some aspects of sensory play, like flogging or using wax, can go very wrong if you’re not careful. So it’s crucial to have someone who is trustworthy and capable of taking care of you. That’s why when you’re with someone who not only cares about reaching maximum pleasure but also your safety, trusting them in that aspect comes a little easier.
No matter what you try, make sure you’re doing things that make you and your partner comfortable. Everything must be consensual, and if at any time things become too intense or painful, be sure to stop immediately.
Certain areas of sensory play do require more practice and experience, so make sure you’re doing your research and preparing beforehand! The more you know the more fun you’ll have.