An intimate relationship exists between meditation and sex. Learn how mindfulness may promote sexual health and increase pleasure.
Mindfulness meditation has many health benefits, from reducing stress and anxiety to improving overall well-being. But did you know that meditation may also improve your sex life?
The skills you gain from practicing mindfulness may help relieve symptoms associated with sexual health concerns and increase pleasure during sex. Here’s how.
“Mindfulness is sex’s best friend,” says Laurie Mintz, PhD, a sexuality psychologist, author, and sexpert at LELO, a Swedish company that makes intimate lifestyle products.
Mintz says that mindfulness meditation teaches you how to:
- be more focused in the moment
- notice when your mind wanders
- bring your mind back to the present moment
These (learned) abilities are key to tapping into sexual pleasure and orgasm.
Mintz explains that this is because having an orgasm requires complete immersion in your bodily sensations, which is exactly what mindfulness meditation teaches you to do.
Sexual problems are more common than you may realize.
A 2008 survey of more than 32,000 women of various age groups in the United States suggests that:
- 43% report experiencing a type of sexual problem during their life
- 39% report experiencing low sexual desire
- 26% report having low levels of arousal
- 21% report having difficulties with orgasm
What the research shows
A large and growing body of research shows that mindfulness meditation may help to manage or treat sexual health conditions.
Sexual arousal disorder
For instance, Canadian psychologist Lori Brotto, PhD, an expert in female sexual dysfunction, led a 2008study on the benefits of mindfulness-based psychoeducation (PED) on sexual arousal disorder.
Among the 26 women who participated, results from Brotto’s study showed:
- significant increases in self-reported desire and arousal
- higher self-awareness of physiological sexual response and arousal
Comorbid sexual abuse and dysfunction
In 2012, Brotto led a pilot study with 20 women who had a history of childhood sexual abuse and sexual dysfunction.
Compared to the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) group and to pre-treatment, women who received mindfulness-based treatment (MBT) experienced:
- more pleasure
- less distress
- increased body awareness
Sexual desire and functioning
In addition, a 2021 study suggests that mindfulness is positively associated with sexual satisfaction, desire, and functioning. When practiced for sexual health, mindfulness may also help improve:
- erectile dysfunction
- sexual distress
The same study shows that prior research on sex and meditation is mostly focused on heterosexual relationships. The study authors suggest that LGBTQ+ populations and couples must be included in future studies for more inclusive results.
Other possible benefits
Another study from 2019 indicates that mindfulness-based therapies (MBT) may help:
- treat female sexual dysfunction
- improve sexual arousal and desire
- decrease fear linked with sexual activity
- improve consistency with arousal non-concordance
- reduce sexual dysfunction associated with anxiety and negative cognitive schemas
The study also notes that MBT doesn’t significantly reduce pain during sex, though.
Meditation may also promote greater intimacy and pleasure, especially if you find that your mind wanders in bed.
“People who are distracted during sex — on their performance or other unrelated thoughts — are less likely to become aroused and to orgasm, so it can help with these concerns,” Mintz says.
Mindfulness meditation may also help minimize any invasive, unrelated, or distracting thoughts during sex (like forgetting to reply to a work email or thinking about what’s for dinner).
According to Mintz, meditation enhances the skills needed to deal with what sex therapists call “spectatoring.” She explains that spectatoring is critiquing yourself or taking an observer view of yourself during sex (i.e., “Do I look OK?” “Am I doing this right?”).
“Mindfulness meditation teaches one to focus on the moment and to notice thoughts without judgment and let them go,” says Mintz, adding that you can start by learning everyday mindfulness skills.
“Applying meditation skills to the bedroom can be incredibly helpful,” she says.
So how can you transfer the skills used in meditation or mindfulness practices to improve your sex life?
Bring your awareness to your breath
An easy way to return to the present moment is to focus on your breath.
Breathing can also be combined with scent perception. If your mind starts to drift, Mintz says that breathing deeply into your partner’s scent may help reorient your awareness back to the present moment.
Focus on physical sensation
Another way to apply mindfulness meditation skills to sex is to focus on physical sensations. Noticing sensation as it arises may help you to get out of your head and back into your body.
Try a mantra
“A mantra can also help when coupled with a deep breath,” says Mintz. A mantra that has helped one of her clients is, “bed not head.”
A mantra can be anything that resonates with you, just try to keep it short and sweet.
Experiment with other practices
Mindfulness exercises are a great way to start learning skills that foster present-moment awareness.
If you want to try more specific meditations for sex, you can look up and follow along with the following practices:
- orgasmic meditation (also known as erotic meditation)
- meditation for female pleasure
- sex visualization meditation
- sensual meditation
- guided sex meditation
Mindfulness and sex share an intimate connection that may help to build self-awareness. Practicing mindfulness on a regular basis can teach you how to access more pleasure and presence.
You can use meditation skills to be more present during sex by:
- focusing on your breathing
- combining breathing with scent perception
- thinking of mantras while deep breathing
- focusing totally on body sensations
Mindfulness meditation may also help to relieve symptoms associated with sexual function, sex drive, and sexual health-related issues. If you need more guidance, consider speaking with a mental health professional or sex therapist.
“Learning to be present, fully in the moment and in one’s body, takes practice — in life and in sex,” Mintz says. “But it is so very worth it.”