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What is Sensation Play? How to engage your 5 senses to heighten sex and intimacy

Touching your arm

Before we learn how to talk, we are already experiencing the world through our senses. As we grow up and have more things that occupy our minds, the sensations that shape our experiences become afterthoughts.

Becoming aware of the different feelings and sensations can help keep you in the present and heighten intimacy. And yes, this awareness can also help you have better sex and pleasure (and orgasms, too).

That’s where sensation play comes in — it’s the act of engaging your senses in different ways to heighten your pleasure. These senses come in all shapes and forms, from visual to auditory to tactile.

There are many forms of sensation play that people enjoy. They can be pleasant or painful. You can even combine certain senses or use one sense to engage another or use sensory deprivation to muffle one sense to enhance another. Experiment, use toys or play with a partner (or both!), and keep track of the things you particularly like.After all, this spirit of experimentation is exactly why we made the Lioness Vibrator in the first place!

Below is a list of different sensations you can explore, categorized based on 5 of our most common senses.

Feel and touch

Feel / Touch

Touch your arm. Touch can be as simple as touching your arm. Feel the skin to skin contact, your hand and fingers gliding or tapping your arm. Touch different parts of your body and see how different movements make you feel. You can also have a partner do the same.

If you want more reasons to focus on touch, try getting a bottle of lotion with a scent you like. Set aside some time every day to use lotion as a way to pause, listen to your body, and care for yourself.

Flowers in shirt showing nipple

Pulling hair, using nails, spanking, or pinching nipples.Similar to touching your arm, you can touch in a variety of ways and feel the different sensations that each provides. For nipple play, you may want to play with some adjustable nipple clamps to heighten your experience. Is there one sensation or place on your body that you prefer?

Wartenberg Pinwheel

Wartenberg Pinwheel.Use a wartenberg pinwheel for more pinpoint sensations. You can explore this handy-dandy product by yourself or with a partner.

Burn Bliss massage oil candle

Burn & Bliss Massage Oil Candle

Wax Play.There are massage oil candles that can add a fun new dimension to a couples massage session. The warm oil from a massage candle is a fun sensation to drip on your partner and doesn’t get overly hot.

Low temperature candle for wax play

If you’re looking for something a little less massage-focused, there are also hot wax candles that are human/body-safe that you can also play with. Don’t use regular candles for this — they can be made of chemicals that are not necessarily safe for human body contact, and they can also be too hot. Get “safety candles” or other candles that are specifically designed for people to play with, since they burn at lower temperatures.

Women Fire Play

Temperature play.Adding a bit of hot and cold can add new sensations (and excitement) to something once considered routine. You can try some of the specific candles above for warmth, or even glide an ice cube down your body for a chilly feeling.

Njoy Pure Wand Stainless Steel Dildo

You can also get glass or stainless steel sex toys, which are easier to heat or cool down for additional play. The Njoy toys such as their Pure Wand or Pure Plug are great for this. Just make sure the temperature is tolerable enough for you and/or your partner!

BDSM - feather duster

Royal Ostrich Feather Duster

Softness.A great feather duster can leave your average sex shop feather in the dust. A friend of mine turned me towards a traditional ostrich feather duster (yes, the ones you imagine used by French Maids for house cleaning), which are really soft and plush. I can’t go back to the single peacock feather ever again.

BDSM - flogger

Impact play.This practice is striking your partner in different ways. Besides spanking, there’s also flogging, caning, cropping, and paddling.

Sound of guitar


ASMR (Autonomous sensory meridian response) is a tingly sensation that you may experience from certain sounds. Some people use it to help get to sleep or relax, and sometimes it is also used for sexual gratification. This video by Safiya Nygaard investigates the basics of ASMR as well as some cool behind-the-scenes footage of how “ASMRtists” create their videos.

Different sights and touches of affection


Hand mirror

Mirror. A simple hand mirror can help you get to know your body. Besides using it when checking for hairs on your face or putting on makeup, you can use your hand mirror to look at your genitals. If you have a vagina, it may be more difficult to see by just looking down, so using a hand mirror can help you see what it looks like. You can even touch yourself while using it to get to know what your body does as you become aroused or have an orgasm.

Dream Essentials Sleep Mask Blindfold

Blindfolds. Sensation deprivation of one or more senses can help heighten other senses. As sight is often one of the strongest senses we have, restricting sight can radically affect our experiences. I’m a picky person when it comes to sleep and light, which means that I’ve hunted for the blindfolds that do the best with blocking out light and other things in view. This blindfold does a great job of that, whether you’re looking to sleep better or looking to deprive your senses more for better sex (or both).

Porn / Erotica. Kind of obvious, but I had to include it in the sight category because they do quality as stimuli. If you’re looking for something new, we wrote about “porn for women” here.

(and note, “porn for women” is a bit of a misnomer because there’s no simple genre and anybody can enjoy it. This list is for different kind of porn and erotica besides what you might usually find on sites like PornHub, if you’re looking for something different.)

Love is Art Kit Black

Love is Art. If you want to get a little artistic with your sex, you can get this kit so you can play with (body safe) paint during a lovemaking session, and then have a Jackson Polluck-esque painting to keep afterward. No one has to know your avant-garde painting above the fireplace mantle was by you… or that you had some great sex to make it.

Aromatherapy oil and flower scents


Aromatherapy.Scents can bring back memories and deeply ingrained associations. Get a scent and an aromatherapy kit that makes you more relaxed, or keep a shirt or pillow with your lover’s scent (especially if they are not around and you miss them) so you can feel those good feelings while smelling them. This gift set is a great kit to help you get started.

broccoli Cooking for healthy sex


Aphrodisiacs. It’s been said that certain foods can help you feel more aroused. Whether that’s true and what those foods are seem to vary depending on history and culture. There might be some rationale behind this, since a variety of studies have shown that our stomach and brain are closely connected, and what we eat may affect our minds, which in turn can affect our experience of sex and pleasure.

Two glasses of wine with rose petals surrounding them


These other things are less sensations in and of themselves, but they can change how we experience sensations by changing our brain.

Alcohol. Casually called “social lubricant”, a bit of alcohol can ease stress or help you loosen up a bit. Too much can cause a case of whiskey dick (or vodka vag), along with reliance and addiction. If you’re curious to learn more about the interaction of alcohol and pleasure, we experimented it and documented the experience here.

Cannabis. Different strains of cannabis and different methods of consumption can produce a variety of experiences, which vary from person to person. Certain types of cannabis can help keep you in the moment or make certain sensations feel stronger. Too much might make you couch locked or overstimulated, or too frequent usage may take away some of the novelty and benefits.

Learn about cannabis and pleasure in general here.

Learn about weed lube here.

Learn about the basics between different cannabis strains (e.g. indica, sativa, hybrid) here.

Colorful abstract painting


Try new things and see how you react/feel about it. It’s hard to improve what isn’t measured (or at least tracked). You may try something that you really like, kind of remember it, but let it go. Don’t do that—people who consistently sex journal have been shown to significantly improve their sex life. Draw up a list of 2-3 sensations that interest you, try them, and write down how they went.


Want more ways to experiment and heighten pleasure? Experiment withThe Lioness

Lioness vibrator and app

Lioness is the first and only vibrator that helps you improve your orgasms.

The world’s most advanced rabbit-style vibrator. Precision sensors let you literally see your arousal and orgasm. Experiment, understand yourself, and have better orgasms—after all, as the saying goes, “never measured, never improved.”

Click hereto learn more.

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