Essays

Pleasure Center Brain

Sexual fantasies are the key to good sex and know no boundaries.

By Anne Lomberg on January 8, 2024 -
Updated on January 13, 2024

Also available in German
Lustzentrum Gehirn

You might think that certain areas of the body need to be touched in order to perceive sexual arousal, but this is not the case because sexual arousal does not arise in our minds through touch but through fantasy. Our brain is the most important sexual organ; it is the place where we decide whether something arouses us or not.

Andy Warhol once said: “Fantasy love is much better than reality love. Never doing it is very exciting. The most exciting attractions are between two opposites that never meet.”

I agree, fantasies catapult us into spheres that often don’t feel as satisfying in reality, at least if you have a thriving imagination. And the thrill of observing also triggers the mind immensely to the point where you can’t stand it anymore and give in to the longed-for touch. But what actually happens in our brain during sexual intercourse, and what role does our mind game, the so-called mental cinema, play? Do people with vivid fantasies have better sex than others? I will get to the bottom of these questions in this article and explain how important it is to know your pleasure to reactivate your brain when you don’t feel like it.

Neurological processes during Sex

During sex, the brain takes control and sends signals to the body, which is then aroused. Hormones such as dopamine are released in large quantities and play an important role in our reward system. But endorphins and serotonin are also part of this. While endorphins, the so-called happiness hormones, ensure a high mood, serotonin relaxes and is not described as the feel-good hormone for nothing. In men, however, this initially leads to an involuntary rest period, making them less receptive to sexual arousal. The hypothalamus establishes a connection between the nervous system and hormones and is activated by caresses until it abruptly decreases after orgasm. The orgasm itself, which acts like a drug directly on the dopamine release in the brain, triggers our reward system to such an extent that we feel completely satisfied afterward.

We could imagine our hormones and genitals as tools that are controlled by the brain and thus lead to arousal or the opposite. Since the brain can ramp up arousal and stop it simultaneously. That’s why it’s so important to engage with your body, to know your pleasure, and to know which areas need touching in order to get going again when you’re not feeling it. By the way, during female orgasm, certain regions of the brain switch off completely, particularly in the frontal lobe, so that self-control and impulses are suspended.

Good sex is a matter of fantasy

Sexual fantasies are the key to good sex and know no boundaries; they are desires that don’t always have to be realized or should be because they often involve hidden traumas from childhood. They can be completely absurd, violent and sometimes even have nothing to do with sex at all. It’s our head where everything takes place and where everything is allowed. The beauty of fantasies is that they give room for interpretation and awaken desires we may not have been aware of. Once you are mindful of the power of imagination, you know how to use it and can immerse yourself completely in your world of thoughts without needing obvious visual stimuli. It’s about actively engaging the brain with self-love and touch. It’s about realizing that it’s not the partner who turns us on but the fantasy of what they do to us. The brain evaluates whether a touch, a situation, or a person makes us wet or hard.

I advocate living out more sexual fantasies, in reality, to grow beyond yourself and fulfill your desires. Who knows, maybe it’s like Andy Warhol said: the mind remains the ultimate source of pleasure, and the long-awaited fantasy gives way to a new one. The advantage of this is that you become the master of your own arousal without having to involve other people, at least not felt, but mentally.

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