"Dopamine is a chemical that our brains release when we feel pleasure, so yes, that's why you love chocolate and sex so much," says sexologist Shamyra Howard, LCSW. "In one 2011 study published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers described how music can awaken the same pleasure seeking parts of the brain that are stimulated by sex. Turning the beat up during sex can help you turn the heat up." Radical.
The only question is, are there any specific sounds and/or tracks that'll work their magic most efficiently? And how to use music that make you really, uh, sing?
How to make an impactful sex playlist
1. Don't improvise
"Curate a playlist so you know what you're looking for," says Gigi Engle, certified sex coach, sexologist, and Womanizer sex expert. "Think of songs that make you feel sexy and empowered. You'll know the ones — whether it's Lizzo, Rihanna, Lana Del Rey, Adele, The Killers, Animal Collective, everyone can think of a few songs that gives them a big old erotic boost to feel like the sexy boss babes they are."
This playlist doesn't have to be a solo mission, by the way.
"Find your favorite music application and make a ‘Love Song’ playlist that you and your lover or lovers will appreciate," says Jess O’Reilly, PhD, certified sexologist. "If you have a smart speaking personal assistant, you can call on it to play the list anytime you want to set the mood!"
2. Length matters, and structure matters
"Be sure the playlist is anywhere from one hour to one hour and 30 minutes," says Engle. "Have the playlist start with some of the lustier songs like your horny artists—Lana Del Rey and Miley Cyrus, and so on—the middle is where all the bangers should go, and the end can be some chill cuddle music."
4. Choose songs to make you feel embodied in a particular emotion
"The contagion hypothesis suggests that we mimic what we hear in our environment, so create a playlist that helps to cultivate the emotions you need to feel in order to get in the mood," says Dr. O'Reilly.
"Do you want to feel powerful? Listen to heavy bass. Looking to feel amorous? Pick tunes from your early days of dating. Do you need help decompressing at the end of a stressful day? Choose a mellow melody. Is happiness your core erotic feeling? Play an anthem that lifts you up. Identify the emotion that underpins your core erotic script and find the music to match!"
5. Marry your sex toys to your music
"If there is a specific song you love, you can set the We-Vibe Chorus to vibe to its beat using the We-Connect app," says Dr. O'Reilly. "This is great for getting in the mood and reconnecting using the nostalgia of older songs."
6. And realize that sometimes you might have to compromise
Because you and your partner might be compatible in the bedroom, but your respective record collections aren't even in the same realm.
"Understand that everyone has different tastes in music which makes our listening experience so varied," says Howard. "What feels good to you might not have the same effect on your partner and that's okay. I really like the way I feel when listening to Hans Zimmer's work. My partner doesn't listen to meditation music on his own, but he really enjoys hearing it when I have it on during sex."
These are the best songs to have sex to
"I have a playlist called ‘Va-Jay Jams’ that I curated specifically for sex," says Engle, and they are [chef's kiss]. Particular highlights include Beyoncé's "Partition" and Amy Winehouse's "He Can Only Hold Her."
Meanwhile, both Dr. O'Reilly and Howard are big advocates of R&B, so permission to put Blackstreet's "No Diggity" on there. Howard also recommends listening to the Urban Flora album by Alina Baraz and Galimatias, for a "more sensual, intellectual, sexual vibe." She also recommends binaural beats in case you're not really a big lyrics person. Ultimately though, you might just want to tune into the songs that send shivers down your spine.
"For a more personalized musical experience, think about some songs that give you chills no matter the genre, and make a playlist with your partner that includes some of their chill-inducing songs," she says. "Make plans to put it on repeat next time you are ready to turn up the heat."
- Salimpoor, Valorie N et al. “Anatomically Distinct Dopamine Release during Anticipation and Experience of Peak Emotion to Music.” Nature Neuroscience, 2011, https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.2726.
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