What is Pleasure?
Pleasure is a feeling of enjoyment. When it comes to sexual health, pleasure can often be forgotten. It is common in the area of sexual health to focus on topics such as pregnancy prevention, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and health exams to name a few. While these topics are incredibly important, we don’t want to forget about an equally important area, which is pleasure.
Sexual pleasure can include the feelings of enjoyment people feel through sexual activities but it is much broader in also including the aspects of pleasure that are involved in sensuality (through the senses) which are not always necessarily sexual. For example, individuals can feel pleasure through the sound of certain music or the feeling of a particular fabric on their skin. These pleasurable feelings may be sensual and erotic or not. Pleasure is abundant when we think about all the different ways that humans experience pleasure.
Our bodies experience sensation through the five senses: touch, smell, sight, hearing, and taste. When perceived as enjoyable, any of these senses can be sensual.
Sensuality is based on the physiological and psychological enjoyment of one’s own body and the bodies of others. As such, the enjoyment of sensuality can expand your awareness and increase your sense of comfort in and appreciation of your own body.
Sensuality and our senses
Touch: Our bodies are sensitive to touch and pressure
Smell: Human beings emit pheromones, which are chemical substances that attract sexual partners. We also may find some aromas, or smells pleasurable and sexually arousing.
Sight: Sight can play a role in our attraction to another individual. Our preferences for specific visual sights or erotic stimuli may vary from person to person.
Hearing: Some people believe that certain types of poetry, music, or other kinds of sounds can raise their level of sexual arousal. In some cases, hearing specific phrases or the sound of a particular voice may be arousing.
Taste: Some people believe that certain foods may stimulate sexual arousal. For example, chocolate contains endorphins. These proteins can create a sense of calm and good feeling, thereby potentially making a person feel more relaxed.
The Biggest Sex Organ
With sexual health, pleasure can be involved in many areas such as from the sexual activities we partake in, to the relationships we are in, to how we feel about our bodies, etc.
Many factors can influence whether or not we feel sexual pleasure. For instance, the quality of our relationships, fear of violence, past sexual experiences, worries about pregnancy or STIs, disconnection from our bodies, to name a few.
What is interesting to note is that pleasure often begins in the mind. Did you know that the brain is the biggest sex organ? So often what we are thinking in our mind can influence our experiences of pleasure.
This can be groundbreaking to know because it allows us the opportunity to work with our thoughts. For instance, if we are wanting to experience more sexual pleasure but find that certain thoughts are impacting us, tools such as mindfulness techniques can help us to examine these thoughts and gain more awareness. Mindfulness techniques allow us to non-judgmentally pay attention to the present moment.
With a lot of interesting work in the area of mindfulness and sexual pleasure, it can be a useful tool to help us connect to our thoughts/minds/body in the moment and hopefully build upon pleasurable experiences. In today’s fast-paced world, we may be trying to enjoy sex, but if we keep thinking about the grocery list or list of things to do, as an example, mindfulness can help us step out of the busy nature of our minds and connect to what we are feeling in the moment.
Pleasure beginning in the mind can also be helpful in circumstances where perhaps a part of our body does not feel or respond sexually in the way that we want such as in the case of individuals who have certain physical dis/abilities, injuries or who have had a type of illness but are still able to experience the sexual pleasure they desire in their mind and/or through other parts of their body.
Pleasure is an individual experience as we all have unique likes and preferences. Pleasure is also not dependent upon sexual partner(s). We can experience sexual pleasure through activities on our own, such as masturbation and/or with sexual partners.
Through our sexual experiences, whether with ourselves or with others, we may come to see what brings us pleasure and what does not. Sometimes if people are comfortable and chose to masturbate on their own, they may use this time to explore what feels good in their body by exploring different types of touch, pressure, fantasies, etc. This information may then be helpful to communicate to sexual partners.
Sexual pleasure also has a lot of health benefits in reducing stress, creating better sleep, and helping us to feel good.
To learn more about various topics in “pleasure,” please look at the following information: