Getting in the mood for love, sex, romance, whatever you wanna call it, requires all your senses. Feeling the big P of pleasure means more than just your fair share of successful genital stimulation. It also means engaging yours and your partner’s senses of non-genital touch, sound, vision, taste, and of course – smell. And one way to do this is to use essential oils during sex, foreplay, or just pre-foreplay/regular massage. And, there’s a belief among holistic medicine practitioners and aromatherapists that essential oils can tickle more than just your sense of smell. Yes, some are believed to be great for your sex life. How is that so? Can essential oils work wonders for female stimulation? What exactly are they anyway?
Well, all of that and more I’ll try to answer in this article today. So, stay tuned folks, and let’s see what all the fuss is about when it comes to essential oils.
What are essential oils?
First thing’s first, I have to answer the question of what we mean when we say “essential oils.” Well, basically, these are extracts from plants, which means they (mostly) consist of natural ingredients. Essential oils are usually made by either pressing or steaming different parts of a single plant. It can be the fruit or the leaves, the flowers, or the bark of a tree. The point is to get the compounds’ or ingredients’ essence. This can be a beneficial or relaxing fragrance, or it can be an ingredient in the oil that’s supposed to go on your skin.
And what about aromatherapy?
And you may have also heard the word “aromatherapy”, which is usually connected to essential oils. So what is aromatherapy?
Well, aromatherapy refers to the practice of using and applying essential oils for some kind of therapeutic benefit or wellness.
What’s interesting about all of this is that aromatherapy is a practice that’s actually pretty old. Yeah, it’s been used not just for centuries, but for a couple of thousand years! The ancients – Egyptians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Indians – all of them used essential oils as beauty products, as cosmetics, as perfumes, and as medicine and drugs (as therapy).
How do essential oils work?
Not all essential oils work in the same way. Some, for example, need to be inhaled. This is because the scent molecules in these essential oils travel through the olfactory nerves (aka nerves in our noses and its surroundings) to the brain. From here on they usually have the biggest effect on the amygdala, which is an important region for memory, decision making, and works as an emotional center that regulates responses such as anxiety, fear, and aggression.
The inhaled molecules are supposed to travel all the way to the emotional center of our brain. After which they should induce a calming or an aphrodisiac effect.
Other essential oils get absorbed by our skin. When the skin absorbs them they also get into the bloodstream. Through the bloodstream channels, they travel to different parts of the body. Different essential oils will bring different benefits to various parts of our body.
Have you ever been to a massage therapist? If so, maybe you’ve noticed how they put a couple of drops on your tense or sore muscles before rubbing. Also, some skincare products or bath products may also contain massage oils. They should provide for better, softer, or moisturized skin. Or some people also use them for relaxing sessions in the bath.
And what about essential oils for female stimulation?
Well, usually these kinds of essential oils work by being absorbed by the skin. Also, a light massage would help since it will work up the blood flow in the area and increase the effectiveness of the essential oil.
But I’ll talk more about this further down in this article because I wanna cover the basics first and make sure we’re on the same page regarding the topic I’m talking about.
NOTE: Before applying the essential oil on a larger area of your body, it’s always a good idea to first do the so-called “skin patch test”. What this means is that you apply the essential oil on a small patch of your skin – your hand or your leg/thigh and see whether there’s an allergic reaction or irritation. If you notice any kind of skin sensitivity then it means you should try something else.
Essential oils are a big, big industry and they’re getting only bigger
According to reports from Grand View Research, Inc, “[T]he global essential oil market is expected to reach USD 11.67 billion by 2022.” And of course, the popularity is largely connected to their purported health benefits – anxiety, headaches, stress, sleep problems… You name it, and there’ll probably be a corresponding essential oil for your kind of problem.
But do they actually work?
Well, the answer is not that clear and conclusive for some essential oils out there, while for others there has been an indication that they do indeed work.
How to Safely Use Essential Oils for Female Stimulation
As I mentioned earlier, there still aren’t good criteria for the manufacture and sale of essential oils out there, so you gotta be careful when you set out to buy one. Some ingredients may not even be listed on the label, even though they’re there.
So, in any event, you definitely shouldn’t ingest essential oils. One of the reasons is that, when they’re pure, they’re highly concentrated, so ingesting them might cause issues like a headache, nausea, and serious poisoning, even if only small quantities are ingested.
And I’d also advise you against rubbing essential oil under your nose or at the edge of your nostrils. As I said, it’s pretty concentrated and even a couple of drops may cause a headache or make you nauseous. Instead, you or your wife can try and sniff the bottle, just as long as you don’t try to cram your whole head inside.
Use a diffuser
You can also use a diffuser, which is a small gadget that dilutes the concentrated essential oil for you and creates vapor with a nice fragrance (coming from the oil, of course). Now, the thing with diffusers is that they should be used in a room where they won’t affect many people. So, if you live in a bigger household make sure to limit the use to you and your wife/partner. Some essential oils can have a negative effect on children, especially babies who are younger than 30 months.
Another thing you can use to inhale essential oils (instead of using a diffuser) are essential oil inhalers. These look like chapsticks, but they contain inside a wick that absorbs the drops of essential oil. It’s small and portable and you can carry it around wherever you want, and it also has a cap on top so it always keeps the scent fresh and ready.
Try aromatherapy massage
A great way to use essential oils is to rub them on body parts. Essential oils can be used in aromatherapy massage sessions, and they can also be used in erotic massages (just make sure not to put them directly on and in the genitals.
It’s actually a good idea to mix essential oils with the so-called “carrier oils” of the likes of olive, coconut, or jojoba oil. They’ll provide for a nice, smooth massage experience, and they’ll also help dilute the concentrated drops of the essential oil. Otherwise, putting too much pure essential oil on your skin may cause irritation.
Can essential oils be used as lubricants?
Um, the verdict on this one is kinda against it. That’s because especially women’s vaginas have pretty sensitive microflora and they get easily irritated by outside products. You could use coconut oil as lube, as a relatively safe alternative, but that’s not really an essential oil, now is it?
How to know if you’re buying a good quality essential oil?
I’ll also talk briefly about how to find good quality essential oils and how to actually tell the good from the bad, so you don’t get tricked along the way.
After all, not all essential oils are created equal – some of them just go by the label “essential oil” while having only a few natural ingredients while the rest of them are synthetic chemicals.
Some manufacturers also don’t even bother to list all ingredients. And sometimes, the plants from which the essential oils come haven’t been harvested correctly.
So yeah, it’s good to be prepared and know your “true” essential oils from the “false” ones.
The problem in the USA is that there aren’t strict criteria for the quality of essential oils. They don’t need approval from the FDA. And, there also isn’t a particular certification or a grading system that’ll tell you the good ones from the bad ones.
Next, I want to give you some tips on how to better shop next time you set out to buy essential oils.
Always look at the label
The label should usually feature the plant’s Latin name, as well as give you info on the purity of the plant, as well as which other ingredients have been added to it. It should also feature the country of origin of the plant, aka where it was grown.
Take notice of the company’s reputation
Inform yourself about the company before purchase, if possible. Also, buy from companies who have a good reputation or new ones who have clear guidelines on how they operate on their websites.
Buy essential oils in dark glass containers
There’s a reason why glass containers are a must here. Essential oils that are pure are also highly concentrated. So if you put them in a plastic container, it’ll just slowly break down the bottle with time. And this means the oil will get tainted from the plastic as well. Look for essential oils which are in brown or blue bottles made of glass, since they can best protect the oils’ quality.
Don’t go for the “fragrance oils”
Essential oils labeled as “fragrance” or “perfume oils” contain unwanted, synthetic chemicals inside. And sometimes they don’t even contain real essential oils! What you can do instead is to look for pure essential oils that don’t contain any filters. These are also known as 100% essential oils.
Look at the prices and compare
I hate to be the one saying this but yeah, sometimes price equals quality. As with almost every product out there, essential oils also vary in price. It depends mostly on harvesting and the process and technology involved in their production. The prices also depend on what kind of essential oil you’re buying. So, for example, sweet orange oil should be less expensive than, let’s say, sandalwood or rose absolute. And if you stumble upon a really, really cheap essential oil marketed as “pure” – well, let’s just say it probably isn’t so.
Essential Oils for Female Stimulation
Okay, now we’ve come to the fun part of this article, so thanks for bearing with me!
Yes, as you may have guessed by the title, there are some essential oils that are believed to have pleasure enhancing or aphrodisiac properties (aka they’re good at getting your lady in the mood).
Now, I have to say right away, there isn’t any direct evidence as of yet that essential oils help in the bedroom. However, some of their qualities can help in enhancing blood flow (circulation), decreasing levels of stress and stress hormones, some have a relaxing effect (without making you sleepy), and some even cause euphoria.
So, here are the best essential oils for female stimulation you can introduce to your wife ASAP.
Rose Oil (Rosa damascena)
Okay, so roses are like one of the most romantic flowers ever, but as it turns out, they’re much more than just a pretty face.
What does the data say?
There are two promising studies that report how inhaled rose oil can be beneficial for the increase of sexual desire, but also the feelings of sexual satisfaction. One of the studies is about women and the other about men.
Both studies were specifically looking at patients with major depressive disorders (MDD), who were also on antidepressants. Scientists wanted to see whether rose oil would help these people with the negative impact of antidepressants on the libido.
And, as I said, the results were promising! According to a self-filled questionnaire after four weeks since the experiment, sexual desire, along with sexual satisfaction and the ability to achieve orgasms had increased. Men reported an improvement in their sexual dysfunction. Patients also reported a decrease in physical pain, which is another characteristic of rose oil.
Why did rose oil have this effect? Well, researchers think it has to do with how it affects the release of dopamine in our brains. Dopamine is a hormone and neurotransmitter largely responsible for our motivations, and also plays a large role in sexual desire and overall satisfaction.
And this is why rose oil is said to also help with symptoms of depression (and also postpartum depression) and may work well when used with conventional medical therapies for depression.
In addition, some experts think that rose oil has more effect when it’s used in aromatherapy massages rather than when it’s inhaled.
Rose oil may also help with postoperative pain
Research data suggests that rose oil has both psychological and physical benefits. For example, a 2015 study shows how it can decrease pain levels, especially in people who’ve recently had surgery.
This is probably because, when inhaled, rose oil stimulates the brain into releasing endorphins, which is also known as the “feel-good” hormone, which has an important function in blocking pain signals. Endorphins are also released upon more strenuous exercises, and, of course, during sex (intercourse) and orgasm!
So, you can try aromatherapy with rose oil as a way to help ease any issues your wife (or you as well) might be having with pain, especially post-operative one. Also, if she suffers from particularly harsh menstruations, rose oil can offer some relief and give you two a chance for some sexy time even at that time of the month.
… and help with menstrual pain as well
A study from 2013 reports an experiment where women who had menstrual pain got tummy (abdominal) massages with rose oil. Another group had almond oil massages on their stomachs, so they can see which one worked better, or whether they worked at all in relieving discomfort.
“Massage with aromatherapy reduces the severity of primary dysmenorrhoea [painful menstruation], in comparison with massage therapy alone.”
But which essential oils were the better favorite? Well, rose oil, of course!
How can you use rose oil?
Typically you can put the rose oil on the wrists or pulse points, put a couple of drops on a body part and massage it, or put a couple of drops in a warm bath. You can also just add it in a diffuser and inhale it as the air in your room.
Ylang-ylang Oil (Cananga odorata)
Ylang-ylang is a tropical tree that grows in South-east Asia, mostly India, and some parts of Malaysia, Indochina, the Philippines, and Indonesia.
This plant is widely used in the perfume industry because a strong and valuable scent can be extracted from its flowers.
Ylang-ylang has a history in its native parts. Folk medicine and folk beliefs and ritual in Indonesia and the Philippines consider this plant as an aphrodisiac and libido-enhancer. For example, in Indonesia, petals from the flower are spread out on the beds of newlyweds. In the Philippines, along with a type of jasmine flower, they’re worn by women around their necks and put as adornments on religious images.
But is there really something about this plant that can work as an essential oil used for female stimulation?
Well, there isn’t precise evidence about the beneficial relationship between Ylang-ylang oil and sex, but there has been a solid link between Ylang-ylang and improvements in mental health.
The thing that makes ylang-ylang special and that connects it to sexual desire is that it can induce feelings of euphoria, and it alieves the symptoms of depression. What’s more, there’s scientific evidence that ylang-ylang can help with enhancing self-esteem and works best this way when you apply it on the skin.
So I guess you could safely say that ylang-ylang is a good essential oil for female stimulation and sexual stimulation in general. Mood, atmosphere, self-esteem, mental health are all connected to our relationship with sex and intimacy, and if an essential oil affects you well in these domains, then why shouldn’t it be good for sex as well?
How can you apply ylang-ylang?
Ylang-ylang can either be massaged on the skin or inhaled (either through a diffuser or otherwise). It basically depends on what it says on the label or how the manufacturer or a consultant aromatherapist advises you to use it.
Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)
Clary sage is mostly characteristic of the Mediterranean Basin and has been used in traditional medicine by Ancient Greeks and Romans, which means its use is thousands of years old.
The area of essential oils and sex still is studied very little, and the available scientific data that we can find on it is usually connected to mental health, circulation, stress reduction and relaxation, and the like.
So, similarly to ylang-ylang, clary sage also doesn’t have a direct link with enhancing pleasure, but it can definitely affect it through other means.
Research shows the numerous therapeutic benefits of clary sage. It can, for example, help with “womb and uterus associated problems” and it can also help “regulate menstrual periods, ease tension and muscle cramps.”
What’s more, clary sage has also been found to be “effective in controlling cortisol levels in women” which means it works for decreasing levels of anxiety.
So, decreasing PMS and other womb and uterus related problems, regulating menstruation, helping with tense muscles and muscle cramps – all of this can affect a woman’s sexual confidence and help elevate it. These effects of the clary sage may help to get your lady in the mood, especially if she’s been struggling with the aforementioned lady issues for years now.
Sandalwood (Santalum album and Santalum spicatum)
Sandalwood is another plant whose essential oil has a long and very fragrant history. The most famous and used varieties of this tree come from India and Australia.
Sandalwood was used a lot in religious ceremonies in Southeast Asia, as it was believed to help achieve better concentration during meditation in Buddhism, while in Hinduism it was thought to bring a person closer to the divine.
One of the most fascinating things about this plant is that it has a long-lasting milky, soft and smooth scent, which is why it’s often used in the perfume industry. What’s more, it helps fixate other scents used in the perfume mixture, enhancing their longevity.
And do you know what else it helps fixate and elevate? The mood for sex and the libido, of course!
If you don’t believe me, look at this study
A joint study from universities in Austria, Philadelphia, and Thailand found that the inhalation of the sandalwood essential oil and its main compound α-santalol (which can be found in Indian sandalwood and contributes to a stronger, more distinct scent) had a positive effect on mood, alertness, and arousal. Volunteers reported elevated levels of arousal, which includes parameters like “alertness, attentiveness, calmness, mood, relaxation, and vigor.”
This is not surprising given the fact that it was used for the same purposes (mental and physical disorders) in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.
According to the study, “Sandalwood oil elevated pulse rate, skin conductance level, and systolic blood pressure.” However, the compound α-Santalol, “elicited higher ratings of attentiveness and mood than did Sandalwood oil or the placebo.”
And then the study concludes that it has to do with the “perceived odor quality”. So yeah, if you’re looking for Sandalwood essential oil, make sure to look for the one that has the alpha-Santalol (α-Santalol) compound in it, and that’s usually the Indian Sandalwood type.
How to use Sandalwood oil?
Now, like most essential oils out there, it’s not a good idea to use the essence of Sandalwood oil in large(r) quantities on the skin. What I mean to say is that when you set out to engage in foreplay or erotic massage, and you wanna use Sandalwood oil, don’t put the oil directly on your wife’s/partner’s skin. Otherwise, you might cause irritation, rashes, allergies, and maybe even more serious acute skin conditions.
Also, don’t put it on her, or your genitals, please. Don’t ingest the oil and don’t use it if your wife’s pregnant (or at least speak with a doctor before you do that).
If you use the Sandalwood oil for a prolonged amount of time (or simply put – too much), it can sometimes cause increased blood pressure and also elevated heart rate.
What you can do instead, is to mix Sandalwood oil with some sort of carrier oil (almond oil, coconut oil) or perhaps even a lotion. Remember, I’m talking about a few drops here, not much more than that.
You can also put a couple of drops in a diffuser, or even in bath water for a nice, relaxing, but also arousing bath!
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
Bergamot is a type of citrus tree that’s also widely used in the perfume industry for its rich array of scents.
As an essential oil, bergamot has several benefits, for both mental and somatic (physical) conditions. It’s said to help with food poisoning, and against pain and inflammation as well.
But, Bergamot essential oil is also used a lot in aromatherapy, as a means to alleviate the negative effects of anxiety and stress.
A 2015 study from Japanese scientists shows how women exposed to water vapor infused with Bergamot oil drops showed significant reductions in levels of stress, fatigue, and an overall reduction of negative emotions.
So, again, there isn’t direct evidence that it positively affects sexual desire, but it definitely positively affects mood, as well as curbs feelings of tiredness and feeling weary, and general lack of motivation. And, of course, all of this put together can have a good effect on your sex life and on female stimulation.
How to use Bergamot essential oil?
You can use bergamot essential oil by mixing it with carrier oils and give your wife a really sexy, arousing whole-body massage.
Or you can put it in a diffuser and let it set the mood for a fun night ahead.
You can also mix the Bergamot essential oil with other essential oils that have similar effects, such as lavender oil and chamomile oil.
Again, remember to only use a couple of drops because essential oils are precisely that – pretty strong essences that shouldn’t be used in large quantities.
So the Moral of the Story Is – Pay Attention to the Sense of Smell
There’s an interesting German study from the Technical University in Dresden that shows how people with stronger senses of smell have more enjoyable sexual experiences.
Yeah, as the researchers note, “participants with high olfactory sensitivity [sensitivity of the sense of smell] reported higher pleasantness of sexual activities.” What’s more, it turns out that women, in particular, who had a high sensitivity of the sense of smell “reported a higher frequency of orgasms during sexual intercourse.”
However, the researchers note that the findings in their study had to do exclusively with sexual experience, and not sexual desire or performance. They say how sexual interactions were enriched by the presence of smells.
So what does this tell us? Well, again, it doesn’t tell us that they’ve found a direct link between scents and sexual desire and sexual performance. But, there is a link between the overall sexual experience and the scents present in the moment. Which is not a small link at all.
It shows how sex is a multisensory experience, in which both the mind, the body, and the outer environment participate in equal measure and balance each other out. It shows that products such as essential oils can affect the way you and your partner experience sex. And through that, I think that they can also, in some ways, affect desire favorably, and with that self-confidence, good mood, and with that – sexual performance as well.
So, as we saw from what I’ve written so far – essential oils can make you and your lady feel good.
They’re good for lifting your mood, they can help you relax and deal with stress better. Some people even use them for nausea.
And, yes, some essential oils can also be used for female stimulation. You can use them to set a titillating mood in the bedroom by dripping a few drops in a diffuser or a pot with water vapor.
Or, you can also use them in erotic, aromatherapy massages as a form of foreplay.
Unfortunately, they cannot be used as lubes. For that, you have plenty of other products I advise you two to use. Among them is the Spark spray, which is a CBD-infused lubricant you can use in the bedroom anytime you want!
Be cautious when using essential oils
And, before I finish this article, I also wanna note a few things on how to be cautious with using essential oils. They’re pretty strong essences, for one. And it’s just not advisable to use them on your skin if they’re not mixed or diluted with other, so-called “carrier oils”. These are coconut oil, olive oil, argan oil, sweet almond oil… And then also jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, etc. They work great as diluters of essential oils.
If your wife is pregnant, don’t forget to talk with a doctor about the essential oils you’re using. Or, if you’re using essential oils for a longer amount of time. Also, if you notice any skin problems that don’t go away, visit a dermatologist or consult with a doctor.
Other than that, they can be great additions to your bedroom routine. I hope I managed to show you that in this article. I think just the novelty of something like using essential oil for female stimulation will make things immediately sexier and more fun.
hMost people have sexual fantasies of some sort.
You might’ve encountered the name of Dr. Justin Lehmiller throughout a couple of my articles on this blog. Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He’s also an author of the book Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life, where he explores in depth the sexual fantasies of Americans. By interviewing more than 4,000 people on their sexual fantasies, Lehmiller tried to come up with answers to the question of why people get turned on by particular scenarios and sex acts, how to understand them better and why they’re not a big deal after all.
So, by now you can imagine he’s a really smart guy and knows his line of work very well.
I don’t know if the following fact will surprise you, but 97% of Americans said that they have sexual fantasies. Most of them fantasize a couple of times a week or even a couple of times a day. And what this (perhaps or perhaps not so) surprising percentage of people fantasizing about sexual matters tells us is that, well, it’s quite a common thing to do. It’s actually a very human thing to do and that there’s nothing wrong with it per se.
What I want to do next is look at the most common sexual fantasies people have. I want to tackle the male and female ones separately, and I want to look at fantasies common for both genders. I also want to address heterosexual fantasies and fantasies of LGBTQ/queer people and find out where they differ and where they intersect.
So buckle up, because it’s going to be a very exciting ride!
Common Sexual Fantasies for Both Men and Women
Before I begin by listing the most common sex fantasies out there, I want to say that all of the data presented here are drawn from Dr. Lehmiller’s book Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life.
This is because I think that Dr. Lehmiller’s book is a reliable and comprehensive source for this topic and is one of the most recent, in-depth scientific texts on it.
What I found particularly interesting from his research was the finding that 51% said that they fantasized about their own partners and that they do that pretty often as well. Just 7% of the participants actually said they fantasize about celebrities, which means our fantasies are much more closely tied to real-life experiences and people than we’d care to think.
That being said, let’s get down to business, shall we?
1. Group Sex – Threesomes, Orgies, Gang-Bangs…
In his book, Dr. Lehmiller notes that by far the most common fantasies for people across the gender spectrum is group sex. Yep, out of the 4,000 and more people that he interviewed, 89% said that they fantasize about having a threesome, and 74% said they fantasized about having orgies, while 61% of them fantasize about gang-bangs.
As you can see, having a threesome is by far the more popular one here. An interesting finding of Lehmiller was that for people it was more important what they did during this sexual act, rather than who they did it with, or where the action took place.
What does this tell us? It tells us that threesomes, for the majority of people, serve to amp up their sexual self-confidence, but also their pleasure derived from sexual activity in general. Adding another body to the picture, a body that we can touch, look at, experience in all its might, and a body that can, in reverse, do the same to us, can really enhance our erotic sensations and augment arousal – big time.
And what about people in committed romantic relationships or marriages?
For people in committed relationships, it’s kinda similar, with the exception that they often include their partner in their threesome/group sex fantasies. And this especially goes for people in happy and fulfilling committed relationships, which serves to show that the fantasy of having a threesome doesn’t, at all, signify to the dysfunctionality of a relationship.
On the contrary, as Lehmiller reports, they’re looking for an experience that all three of them would enjoy equally.
Differences between men and women in threesome fantasies
And in terms of gender differences regarding the threesome fantasy, women’s fantasies tend to be more detailed in comparison to men’s. Also, according to the interviews, women tend to be more sexually flexible in terms of the gender they’re willing to have a threesome with. So, a lot more women tend to be okay with MWW sex (man-woman-woman), and also WWW (woman-woman-woman) sex, as opposed to men, who are still kinda more rigid when it comes to this.
2. BDSM – Power, Control, and Rough Sex
Another popular fantasy was sadomasochism, with 60% of participants reporting that they’ve had fantasies where they inflict physical pain on another person while they’re having sex.
And masochism doesn’t fall short either. In fact, Dr. Lehmiller reports that 65% of participants said they fantasized about receiving physical pain while having sex.
Now, what Lehmiller wants to stress about BDSM fantasies, and what I completely agree with and have also pointed out in my article BDSM for Beginners, is that BDSM is a vast array of practices and not strictly a hardcore form of sadomasochistic, violent sex. In fact, as Lehmiller suggests, it rarely takes this kind of form in reality, although there are of course wilder forms of BDSM sexual practices – and that is a-okay as long it’s consensual, of course.
But most of them are milder in nature. I mean, even blindfolding or tying up with a tie or cuffs is considered a form of BDSM, and I bet most of you reading this piece have already done that during sex, even if it was only one time.
Also, it doesn’t mean that people fantasizing about BDSM strictly divide and position themselves into roles of submissives and dominant. On the contrary, it depends on the context, the setting, and the form of BDSM, as well as on their partners and how they feel at the moment. Lots of people actually like to switch – which is basically how they call themselves in the BDSM world and vocabulary – they’re switches.
BDSM is not about hurting people (not in that general sense, anyway)
I know it sounds counterintuitive, especially given the “inflict physical pain” sentence in the first paragraph of this section, but bear with me, please. BDSM is definitely not about intentionally hurting someone. The physical pain involved in sadomasochistic sexual acts should always be controlled, limited and within a set of pre-established boundaries between the engaged parties.
So this kind of fantasy doesn’t really have to do with pathology, but control. In fact, as Lehmiller notes, lots of dominants and dominatrixes expressed feelings of care for their submissive subjects. They recognized that their power also brought about a set of responsibilities, and that definitely is not to be taken lightly.
Why is BDSM such an alluring set of fantasies?
In large part, BDSM has to do with taking/giving up control. It’s about power-play and enhancing pleasure through sensation play in which pain and the absence of pain often take center stage. Of course, a lot of the time the pain intensity is pretty mild.
What’s the ratio between fantasies of dominance and submission?
Well, it turns out that more people fantasize about being dominated rather than being the ones in charge. Is that surprising? Lehmiller ascribes this to the desire to give up control and responsibility. We already live in a world where we’re overburdened with distractions and countless obligations on a daily basis, so giving in during sex can be a way to blow off steam.
Also, it might have to do with temporarily giving up your status of a subject and turning into an object. This basically means you don’t get to assert your personality, along with your fears, worries, and anxieties.
As Lehmiller says, this might be especially alluring to people who get easily distracted during sex. It can also be got for people battling sexual anxiety and ones that have performance issues.
3. Novelty, Variety, and Adventure
These are not sexual fantasies per se, but they describe sexual practices that are considered novelties to particular individuals or couples. So, for one couple doing oral or anal sex might not be a big deal because they’re doing it on a regular basis (a couple of times a week, once or twice a month, and so on), but for others who’ve never done it or done it only a handful of times since they’ve been together, it definitely counts as something exotic and adventurous.
So what I’m trying to say here, is that there’s no one definition or one image or scenario as to what these fantasies of novelty, variety, and adventure might be. Rather, they’re specific to different people/couples and vary in terms of their own characteristic sexual practices, habits, and preferences.
And this can mean an almost endless list of activities:
- New sexual activities such as oral sex, anal sex, mutual masturbation, biting, sensation play, various BDSM practices, using a sex toy, trying out new sex positions, and the like.
- New settings where you can have sex, like in public for example – on a beach, in an airplane, a sleazy hotel room, or a 5-star hotel – anything goes.
- Spontaneous actions such as an unexpected display of desire in public and having a quickie in a public bathroom, for example.
I mean, you get the picture. Variety is the spice of life, as they say.
What are the most common intercourse positions Americans fantasize about?
Basically, it boils down to being hot for the sex positions you don’t usually get to practice, as I mentioned earlier. Or maybe ones you’d like to do more often.
As you will be able to see in the data below, there are some sex positions that sort of show up over and over again between participants in Lehmiller’s research.
|Sex positions||Doggy style||Face-to-face with you on top||Face-to-face with your partner on top||“Spooning” position||Reverse cowboy/cowgirl||Something else||Don’t fantasize about intercourse|
Also, it turns out that experimenting with food is a favorite of many. About 40% of interviewees said they’ve had this kind of fantasy. And what were their most frequent choices? Whipped cream (yeah, bet you didn’t expect that one), ice cubes (or this one), chocolate as well as strawberries. Talking bout a sweet tooth!
And what about sex acts in general?
In terms of more general sex acts that Americans fantasize about most, turns out that both men and women often fantasize about kissing (57.4% and 69.3% answering “often”, respectively), which is odd at first glance because, I mean, couples are already supposed to kiss all the time, right? But that’s actually not really the case. Turns out that lots of people stop kissing (especially the juicy, french-kissing way) when they’re together for a longer amount of time, which can (though not always) affect their intimacy and romantic relationship in a negative way.
People also like to often think of mutual masturbation, 35.5% of men and 31.8% of women answered “often”, and they’re also big fans of giving oral sex, with 69.6% of men and 57.1% of women answering “often”, which makes up more than half of the participants in the study! And roughly the same percentage goes for receiving oral sex as well.
For simultaneous oral sex, the percentage is a bit lower, but still, more than a third of men and a quarter of women wanna do it. So we can safely conclude that oral sex is an old favorite among people. And I can’t see why it should be any different!
Vaginal intercourse comes first place in terms of fantasy frequency, for both genders
For both men and women vaginal intercourse is an all-time favorite, though, with 75.4% of men fantasizing about it often, and 83.7% of women.
Almost a third of the men in the study and about a third of the women were into using sex toys in bed.
And I also can’t miss out on another common fantasy – yep, it’s anal sex. So, when it comes to giving anal sex, 36.9% of the men said they had it often as a fantasy, and only 7% of women said the same. But, when it comes to receiving anal sex, 19.5% of men answered they often had it as a fantasy, and about the same percentage goes for women, 19.2%. More than a third of women, however, answered they never had it as a fantasy.
So yeah, think a bit about that, folks. The next time you’re nagging your wife to have anal sex and she simply doesn’t want to do it. Think about something else for a change.
4. Taboo and Forbidden Sex
According to Biblical legend, the forbidden fruit even managed to tempt the first humans, Adam and Eve. So why should we be any different?
It’s true, we tend to always mysticize the other side, the one that is unknown to us, the one our society, our culture, or our religion tends to reject or condemn.
And the reasons for it are numerous: escapist fantasies from our narrow-minded environments, a desire for novelty (the one I talked about in the third section), curiosity, a desire to cross the imposed limits, and so on.
According to Justin Lehmiller, the difference between these types of fantasies and desire for novelty and adventure, in general, is the following:
- In taboo or forbidden sex, fantasies tend to consist more of what other people (or society, a group of peers, etc.) find disgusting. Lehmiller gives the example of licking someone’s feet.
- Another difference is desires that are illegal to act upon, such as voyeurism and exhibitionism.
- And, the third difference is the common classification (by the mental health community as Lehmiller says) of these types of desires as paraphilias.
What is a paraphilia? It’s basically a fancy term for “uncommon” or “unusual” desire. Which are very vague descriptions, if you ask me. And Lehmiller says something very soothing as well – that according to his survey, most of the taboo desires are actually pretty prevalent and widespread among Americans.
He even claims that people tend to fantasize more about taboo activities than about love and romance!
Of course, not all of these forbidden or taboo desires are all that common or prevalent. The more extreme and the more deviant they are, the rarer they become among people, as he says.
I can’t go into much detail, although, this is a fascinating subject on its own. But I will give you the three most common taboo fantasies that Americans like to think about often.
Voyeurism – everybody’s got a bit of that Peeping Tom in them, don’t they?
So, as Lehmiller notes, the most common taboo fantasy is actually voyeurism.
Let’s define voyeurism, shall we? Basically, voyeurism is a desire to watch other people have sex or undress without them knowing about it or without consenting to it. Like spying, you know – the main point is you don’t get to be seen doing the act of looking or observing.
And there’s a lot that falls under the category of voyeurism. If you don’t believe me, believe what the expert, Dr. Lehmiller has to say about it:
“Voyeurs imagine a wide range of scenarios. They include everything from snooping on other people’s sexual exploits through hidden video cameras (like Billy Baldwin’s character did in the 1993 erotic thriller Sliver), to watching people undress through a peephole in the wall (à la Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film Psycho), to being invisible and sneaking into people’s bedrooms (as Kevin Bacon’s character did in the sci-fi flick Hollow Man).” (pages 41-2 from Lehmiller’s Tell Me What You Want).
I bet you wanna look up the movies, right this instant, don’t ya!
Joke aside, you’re not really a voyeur if you wanna watch porn or have sex with the lights on, or heck, if you wanna visit strip clubs. A true voyeur would mean that the subjects who are viewed didn’t consent to that, which makes it pretty much illegal in reality.
So what are the numbers?
Turns out that 60% of participants reported they had fantasies about voyeurism in the past. Sixty percent! But, it’s also important to mention that most people don’t fantasize often about being voyeurs. According to research, people who often have voyeurism fantasies tend to harder establish more conventional sex relations, and it can be a sign of a lack of romantic or sexual prowess.
About 45% of the surveyed people reported they had fantasies about fetish objects.
What are they, in fact?
Well, fetish objects are precisely that – objects – that are somehow significant for an individual and induce sexual arousal in them. Typically, people more easily come or stay aroused in the presence of these kinds of objects.
Fetishes vary in intensity – for example, people with milder fetishes don’t necessarily need these objects in order to enjoy having sex. But the stronger or intense fetishes mean that people have a hard time achieving or sustaining pleasure in their absence.
And the interesting thing about fetishes is that they can be practically anything. The most common ones are pieces of clothing, of course, such as stockings, bras, panties, swimsuits, boots, high heels, other types of shoes. But people can have some pretty outrageous fetishes as well, like pacemakers, for example (don’t look at me, ask Dr. Lehmiller’s survey participant for that one).
Body parts can also be fetish objects (under special circumstances)
Now, body parts can also be considered as fetish objects, especially ones which aren’t necessarily connected with sexual desire at first glance. Think of feet, for example, as arguably the most common body part fetish objects out there. Lehmiller notes how “one in seven survey participants reported having had a fantasy before in which feet or toes played a prominent role.” (page 44)
Other body parts such as hands, armpits, belly buttons, or abs can also be fetish objects for some people. As can the usuals, such as genitals, breasts, and buttocks. But they are considered as fetish objects only when people are only turned on by these particular body parts and when these body parts have a special appearance. For some men and women, this can mean looking only for men with large penises, for example. Or people that have a thing for particularly wide butts and can’t get turned on (or find it very hard) when they’re not with such a person.
This one is for the ones who like to be looked at. Consider it the opposite of voyeurism. Basically, exhibitionism is the activity of exposing your own genitals or having sex with another person while others are looking at you.
There are two types of exhibitionist fantasies: the ones that have to do with consent from the onlookers, putting up a show that they’ll enjoy, and the other type is when you take them by surprise and extort reactions of shock and even offense.
The first one is called “consensual exhibitionism” and it’s a more prevalent form among the participants of Lehmiller’s study – 42% of people said they had these kinds of fantasies, while only 10% said they had the other type. Similar to frequent voyeuristic fantasies, this second type of exhibitionist fantasies is linked to poor skills in establishing sex relations.
What does this tell us? That most people having these fantasies don’t seek to offend or somehow violate the onlookers and the attention they’re seeking. Rather, they hope the others will like what they see.
Consider this scenario featured in Lehmiller’s book:
“My male partner and I are in a storefront of a building on a very busy street. Instead of a window, it is a one-way mirror (people can see in, we can’t see out). We’re having sex while unknown passersby stop to watch.” (page 47)
The main differences between public sex fantasies and consensual exhibitionism fantasies are that, in the first one, people get aroused by the idea of potentially being spotted or the fear of being caught. In the latter type of sex fantasy, you know you’re being observed and you get off by the very idea of it. You want to be considered hot and sexy and attractive, which is what is at the basis of this kind of sex fantasy.
The more people put restrictions on their sexuality, the more they try to break from them through their sexual fantasies
Another interesting finding was that the more conservative people are and the more taboo they’ve placed on matters regarding sexuality and sex acts, the more “immoral” fantasies they tend to have, aka fantasies that they themselves in regular circumstances would consider as such. This includes stuff like orgies and voyeurism but also cheating.
5. Swinging, Partner Sharing, and Polyamory
Okay, good, so now we’ve finally come to the 5th most common sexual fantasy. As you can see, it basically has to do with non-monogamous relationships and behaviors.
Monogamy is the dominant form of romantic partnerships and relationships all throughout the world. We all know that, more or less. So, it’s no wonder that its opposite forms are found on this list.
But let’s set the definition first – what are non-monogamous relationships? Well, these are relationships in which people can be with multiple sexual and/or romantic partners all at the same time.
Some of these fantasies may conflate with group sex and multi-partner fantasies, sure. However, most of the time they have to do with having more than one sex partner. And they don’t necessarily mean having sex with multiple people at the same time. They’re more about relationships in which both partners agree that some forms and types of sexual activity outside the committed relationship are allowed.
So, it’s kinda obvious to say by now that most of the people with these kinds of fantasies are actually in monogamous relationships. But don’t equate non-monogamy fantasies with infidelity. Most people that have them actually want their partner to know and to be okay with it. And another interesting thing about it is that people often also fantasize about their partners doing the same thing. Sometimes they get even more turned on by their partner’s (oftentimes consensual), non-monogamous behavior.
People would rather have a mutually non-monogamous relationship than cheat
And while we’re still on the topic of infidelity, it’s worth noting Lehmiller’s findings of non-monogamous fantasies. What he found out was that infidelity and cheating were actually pretty rare as fantasies among his participants. “[L]ess than one-half of 1 percent specifically described their favorite fantasy of all time as “cheating,” “infidelity,” or “adultery.” By contrast, it was almost ten times more common for people to say their favorite fantasy reflected some form of consensual non-monogamy (CNM).” (page 48-9)
What does this tell us? Some pretty good news, I think. It tells us that people, in general, are much more prone to the thought of being in a consensual non-monogamous relationship. It definitely beats being secretive, deceitful, and failing their partner’s trust.
But what about infidelity fantasies?
The infidelity fantasies Lehmiller encountered in his survey actually had various motivations behind them. And they were actually pretty different than what we usually think when cheating comes up. It mostly had to do with the excitement of sneaking around, and of the possibility of being caught. Also, it had to do with breaking social taboos and doing something that’s considered immoral or forbidden by social norms.
Consider these fantasies reported by two of his participants:
“I’m cheating on my boyfriend with my coworker while waiting for my boyfriend to come home so we have to be quick and it has to be dirty and fast.”
“Having an affair with an often older, married, influential man. I just like the idea of doing something wrong and immoral—perhaps even a little ‘gross’ because they have many more years on me. I don’t really fantasize about living with or being in the life of this man—I basically just want him around for me to tease and have sex with whenever I want. Plus the allure of sneaking around is attractive to me.”
As you can see, these fantasies have a lot in common with the variety, novelty, and adventure fantasies from the third section, and the taboo and forbidden ones from the fourth one, elaborated earlier in my article.
How common are non-monogamous sexual fantasies such as an open relationship, polyamory, swinging?
Having an open relationship was the most common of this fantasy-group. All in all, 79% of men and 62% of women had had fantasies about it. 70% of men and 51% of women fantasize about polyamory, which puts it in second place. Swinging finishes third here, with 66% of men and 45% of women having fantasies about it.
Now the difference between the three is that an open relationship usually doesn’t mean the committed partners keep long-term, deeper connections with their sexual partners outside the relationship. And polyamory means precisely this – that you can have and keep up more than one sexual and romantic, intimate relationship with a person. Swinging basically means swapping partners with another couple. This can also entail a full swap in which everybody has sex with everybody, regardless of gender.
And have you ever heard of cuckolding?
There’s also a fourth kind of non-monogamous sex fantasy called cuckolding or cuckqueaning. The psychological term is troilism, and according to Lehmiller, this has been put in the category of paraphilia, the one I mentioned earlier in the taboo and forbidden sex section, meaning “unusual desires”. This is a fantasy in which a couple agrees one or both of the partners have sex with other people, but they should also get to watch the act or hear their partner narrating it later on.
As it turns out, this kind of fantasy is more common in men, with 58% of male participants in Lehmiller’s survey reporting having it at one point. More than a quarter of these participants reported having this fantasy often. Women were a bit less interested in it, with only a little more than a third of female participants saying they’ve had it. Still, that’s not a small number altogether and it seems that the cuckolding fantasy is more common than one thinks.
6. Intimacy, Romance, and Passion
By now you may already think: what’s this doing here? Romance, intimacy? But yeah, you read it right. This next section may seem quite different from what I’ve written so far, in large part because it primarily has to do with, as Lehmiller says, emotional fulfillment.
These fantasies have at their core “the need to belong”. They’re describing the requirement of satisfying very deep and intense emotional needs, which means they don’t really get stuck at the level of fulfilling a strong sexual impulse or urge. They have to do more with connection and intimacy, rather than strictly sex.
And it’s no wonder that these are among the most common sexual fantasies out there. We’re living in times where we’re increasingly more and more alienated from each other, even though we have an unprecedented number of devices and ways to be and stay connected.
It’s probably a well-known fact by now that we’re social beings and that we have a profound need to form and maintain social connections throughout our lifetimes. Lehmiller notes how “[T]his need is second only to basic survival needs—things like thirst, hunger, and safety.” Yes, it’s that meaningful to us, and if these needs for deep and strong connections aren’t met, our whole physical and mental health will most likely suffer as a consequence.
Romantic and sexual connections are a special kind of social connections most of us can’t live without
Romantic relationships coupled with the sexual part of it as well are one of the most important social connections we’ll ever make in our lives. Sure, friends and family, as well as colleagues are incrementally important as well, but romantic/sexual partnerships offer a whole new nuance to our Self – our Self in society and our Self as we are in private.
Falling in love, being with someone intimately is a fundamental lesson in togetherness and it literally shakes the roots of our singular being, turning it upside down and transforming it into something new and often wonderful.
So, it’s no wonder that people suffer immensely when something happens to their partner (whether it’s death, illness, or divorce). Their partner is often the first and ultimate place where they can find emotional and sexual nourishment, as well as space and willingness to fulfill their needs. It can also mean a collapse of the Self when they’re gone or the relationship went through some sort of change.
Hence, it’s also no wonder that fantasies around intimacy and romance exist. And these fantasies are usually connected with specific people – they don’t include strangers or just a particular body type. Often, a particular person is at the center of these fantasies, rather than the sexual act with them. And, what I like most about these types of fantasies is that they’re equally present in both men and women. The fantasy of being loved, desired, acknowledged, and close to a particular someone are common to both genders. The need for belonging has roots in all of us.
Don’t forget about passion!
However, passion still plays a prominent, if not central role here.
The most used words with which the participants of Lehmiller’s survey described this sexual fantasy connected with intimacy, romance, and passion were the following:
Bear in mind that they’re also listed in order of frequency.
So even though these people were thinking about deep emotional connections, passion was almost never out of the picture.
In fact, what’s common to these fantasies is an intensity of feeling. And so, Lehmiller makes a two-fold distinction:
- The first one has to do with people focusing on a deep and intense sexual attraction, one in which they can’t keep their hands off their partner and/or one in which they’re completely irresistible and desired by others.
- The other one has to do with strong sexual attraction indelible from a strong intimate bond as well. If you need an example, just imagine the relationships in The Notebook or Titanic, as Lehmiller points out.
As you can see, the second one has more to do with the give and take of sexual passion in strengthening an emotional and intimate bond between partners.
7. Homoeroticism and Gender-Bending
And the last on our list is fantasies that have to do with homosexual or homoerotic desires, as well as gender flexibility, or gender-bending.
Non-normative sexualities and genders are still taboo in many societies around the world, and lots of more developed countries still struggle with bigotry and conservativism.
So, again, it’s no wonder that fantasies of gender and sexual fluidity will be rather or somewhat common among people.
What are these fantasies in the first place? Well, fantasies of gender and sexual fluidity encompass the rejection of the common, binary conceptions of gender, aka the two biological sexes of male and female. The same goes for the rejection of sexual orientation norms. The norm, as well all already know, is heterosexuality, and in terms of general social expectations, heterosexual people are to be attracted only to other heterosexual people of the opposite sex.
Well, in these fantasies all of that is turned upside down. That can mean fantasies with a partner from the same gender, fantasies with a transsexual partner, and also fantasies where the person who’s fantasizing is turning into a different gender.
As Lehmiller notes, these kinds of fantasies somewhat overlap with the taboo and forbidden sex fantasies, as well as with the sexual novelty and adventure categories. This is because in large part they have to do with the breaking of cultural and social rules and norms, as well as with trying out something completely new from what they’ve been doing before.
People are much more fluid when it comes to gender and sexuality than we like to think
What is fascinating in these fantasies, something that Lehmiller also points out is that they’re signs of an “underlying sense of flexibility and fluidity” when it comes to gender and sexual orientation. It means that many more people have the urge and need to experiment with their sexuality and reconceive their fixed gender identity than we dare to think or give credit for.
Lehmiller makes a distinction between two larger categories of sexual fantasies:
- The first is gender-bending fantasies, as he calls them. These are fantasies where a person imagines themselves in a different gender or as cross-dressers. They may also include them having sex with a transgender partner or another cross-dresser.
- The second type of fantasy is the one connected with sexual flexibility. In this one, people imagine themselves having sex with partners from the same gender. Basically, they are fantasies in which “sexual desires […] are seemingly inconsistent with one’s own sexual orientation.”
Some of the LGBT participants in Lehmiller’s survey also reported having heteroerotic fantasies, meaning fantasies with their opposite genders. So yeah, all people from all orientations seem to like sexual flexibility!
Sexual flexibility in men and women
Another thing I’d like to mention before I conclude with this section is the prevalence of sexual flexibility among men and women, especially heterosexual men and women.
So, according to Lehmiller’s findings, 59% of straight women reported they’d had fantasies about other women, as opposed to only 26% of straight men reporting having had fantasies about other men.
Another interesting thing is that lesbian women and gay men tended to have less heterosexual fantasies than straight men and women having gay fantasies. This is probably in large part due to gay men and women having previously already been in heterosexual relationships, as opposed to straight people who’ve stuck with the heterosexual norm.
And the last point I’d like to make is that, according to Lehmiller, while women tend to have more fantasies about other women than men about other men, it turns out that men had more gender-bending fantasies about women.
Think about that one for a while, folks.
Final Thoughts on Sexual Fantasies
Well, first I wanna say sorry if you were expecting something less elaborate. However, I think that the topics around the most common sexual fantasies deserve more talk. And definitely more online (and physical!) space.
As we saw in this article, the three most common sexual fantasies have to do with group sex, BDSM, and sexual novelty and variety. It’s safe to say that each one of these fantasies takes many forms. And, some people prefer certain forms more than others. Think of threesomes, for example, as still having the head start over orgies and gangbangs.
And when it comes to BDSM, more people like to be dominated and succumb to masochistic pleasures, rather than take control and be the dominant ones. For sexual novelty, people tend to prefer more new sex acts and positions, rather than new settings in which they get to have sex. I expected that one, I have to say.
Granted, the other four fantasies I’ve listed here were not as common as the first three. But, their prominence still wasn’t negligible. They’re actually pretty frequent too.
However, this doesn’t mean that all people will act on their fantasies, nor that they would want to. The relationship between fantasies and fulfilling them is not always straightforward. It’s actually more complex than it seems.
How many of the people have actually acted out their fantasies?
This is a very good question. In fact, I asked myself the same question while I was reading the book.
Turns out that less than a third of people have actually acted out their most common and biggest sexual fantasies. The other thirds said they held back for a variety of reasons. A lot of these reasons had to do with the reality of the fantasy, and the fact that people just didn’t know how to act on it. However, a lot of other people were simply afraid of their partner’s reaction and potential unwillingness to participate in its enactment.
As we can see, some people can’t do them simply because of their circumstances and partner relations. But some people wouldn’t do them because they found the fantasy more alluring and more attractive than the reality of it. And then there were others who already enacted them and guess what? They found out it’s not what they thought. So, they decided to rather stick with their fantasy, or cross over to something else.
You and the people around you probably share some of the same fantasies – more than you would dare to think, in fact!
So if you or your partner find yourselves having some or a number of these fantasies, you’re certainly not alone. As you can see, loads of other people have them too. They may be your neighbors, your best friends, your boss or your colleagues, your kid’s high school teacher…
Yeah, sexual fantasies are everywhere. And I urge you to go through Lehmiller’s book. Trust me, it’s a fascinating piece of writing that really goes in-depth about the background of sexual fantasies. Have you ever wondered why is it that a particular image always comes up when your mind wanders over to the sex realm? Well, Dr. Lehmiller’s book is here to give you some of the answers.