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Sensual Touch

Some people feel a lot of anxiety about being intimate and having sexual intercourse. This may result in decreased desire, sexual arousal disorder, or erectile dysfunction. It is often helpful to take a step-by-step approach to overcome anxiety. One of the best and mutually satisfying ways to improve your sex life is to focus on the pleasures of touching.

Sensual Massage

One option is to learn how to give and receive a sensual massage. Sensual massage can help you and your partner:

  • express needs and desires
  • find out how each likes to touch and be touched
  • explore new ways to give pleasure
  • improve your relationship

An illustrated manual or book can be helpful. Here are some general tips:

  • Determine who will be the first giver.
  • Decide whether you and your partner will wear clothes or not.
  • Choose a location where you both will be comfortable.
  • Dim the lights and play soft music you both enjoy.
  • Use plenty of pillows or a comforter.
  • If you wish, use baby oils, scented oils, lotions, or powder.
  • Tell the giver what feels good and what does not.

Begin with the face. Normally the giver sits and the receiver lies flat on his or her back with the head resting on the giver's thighs. With the hands well lubricated, the giver begins with the chin, then strokes the cheeks, forehead, and temples. Explore the face as if you were a blind person meeting your partner for the first time. Then explore the ear lobes, lips, and the nose before returning to massage the temples for complete relaxation. Rest, talk about the experience, and reverse roles.

Massage the rest of the body tenderly and pay attention to your partner's feelings. Then reverse roles.

Sensate Focus Exercises

Sensate focus exercises were introduced by researchers Masters and Johnson to treat couples with sexual problems. The exercises are divided into 3 steps. Both partners should be comfortable with each step before moving to the next.

Schedule time when you can both be relaxed and comfortable. Partners take turns being the giver and the receiver.

  • First step: Explore various parts of your partner's body including the head and neck, chest, belly, back, buttocks, arms, underarms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, and toes. Use different kinds of touch, such as stroking, rubbing, and squeezing. You can also use different kinds of touch with your mouth, such as kissing, nipping with your teeth, or sucking. Limit this stage to parts of the body other than the genitals and breasts.
  • Second step: Touch, stroke, and explore the sensual responses of the whole body, including the breasts and genitals. The goal is not an erection or orgasm. The goal is to learn what feels good to your partner. At this stage some talk may be helpful.
  • Third step: Caress and stimulate breasts and genitals. For those couples who wish to proceed to sexual intercourse, you can receive and give orgasm if you choose. It often helps to use a lubricant such as Astroglide or K-Y jelly, especially for the woman's clitoris and the vaginal opening. Vaseline should not be used as a vaginal lubricant.

Pay attention to just relaxing and enjoying it when you touch each other. Remember that it is possible to have a loving, intimate relationship without sexual intercourse. If you feel that your relationship needs more help, psychotherapy, treatment with medicine, and sexual counseling may be helpful.

Written by James P. Semmens, MD.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2010-01-27
Last reviewed: 2010-06-07
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2011 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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