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Use your brain to have hotter sex

Dr. Daniel Amen tells TODAY how your mind can help you in the sack

Updated: 4:05 p.m. ET Jan. 19, 2007

Sex is the ultimate head game. Dr. Daniel Amen, a neuroscientist and head of the Amen Clinics, a psychiatric treatment center in Newport Beach, Calif., says a healthy brain can improve your sex life. As the largest and most sensitive organ in the body, the brain can help you heighten your pleasure and make you feel closer to your partner. You can even “brain wash” someone into being attracted to you. Dr. Amen was invited on TODAY to discuss his new book, “Sex on the Brain: 12 Lessons to Enhance Your Love Life.” Since you can never know too much about sex, TODAY asked him to answer some more questions on how you can use your head to be better in bed.

TODAY: How can you use your brain to make sex hotter?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Having a great brain helps you plan to have great sex. Great sex is not just a momentary phenomena, but rather a way of life. The brain is involved with everything we do, from good listening skills, thoughtfulness, kindness, doing something special for our lovers, and remembering what they like (in and out of bed). When the brain works right, it helps you be thoughtful, playful, romantic, intimate, committed, and loving with your partner. When the brain is dysfunctional, it causes you to be impulsive, distracted, addicted, negative, rigid, unfaithful, and even hateful, thus ruining chances for continued intimacy and love. There are many “brain issues” that get in the way of great sex, such as ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), substance abuse, PMS, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and brain injuries. Treating these properly enhances our ability to have amazing love relationships.

TODAY: Many people say they feel “chemistry” when they meet someone to whom they’re attracted. Is there such a thing?
Dr. Amen: You bet. When the attraction chemicals percolate they are every bit as strong as cocaine. Dopamine is the initial chemical of attraction (also the chemical that cocaine effects). When someone takes our breath away, we become motivated to get to know them better. Dopamine is the motivation chemical that drives behavior.

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TODAY: How can you increase your dopamine during sex?
Dr. Amen: Dopamine is associated with excitement and motivation. Doing something new, edgy, maybe even a bit forbidden, is likely to increase dopamine. Doing the same old thing is likely to decrease it.

What is the most effective form of foreplay?
Dr. Amen: Foot rubs and shopping for shoes are wonderful forms of foreplay. Most people do not know that the area of the brain that feels the feet is right next door to the area of the brain that feels the genitals. When he says rub my feet, know that you are likely to get lucky tonight. When she wants you to go with her to buy shoes, think of it as a hot date. You, not the store clerk, should be putting the shoes on her.

TODAY: How can you make yourself unforgettable to your partner?
Dr. Amen: Here are seven ways to make yourself unforgettable to your partner.

  1. Take your partner’s breath away … make great memories. Wake up their brain to you.
  2. Do something special on an intermittent or unpredictable basis … if you do it all the time it will lose its special nature, the brain will get use to it and expect it.
  3. Take a class in your partner’s pleasure — know what him or her on.
  4. Novelty can boost lasting love, do something a little edgy. Boost dopamine!
  5. Use every sense, especially foot rubs.
  6. Do something great for someone your partner loves. Boost oxytocin.
  7. Summarize and immortalize loving moments (pictures, poems, cards, letters, etc.). Get inside their hippocampus (memory center).

TODAY: What is oxytocin? And how can it improve sex?
Dr. Amen: Oxytocin is the chemical of trust and bonding. Men have significantly lower levels of it than women. In women, holding hands, kind looks, doing something special for someone our partner loves, are all ways to increase oxytocin. In turn, it increases their bonding to their partner. For men, an orgasm actually increases oxytocin, up to 500 percent. So men need orgasm to become more bonded and connected, while women need touch and talking in order to get to the place of wanting to help their partner have an orgasm.

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