Sex and the Female Brain

You probably don’t need an expert to tell you that women’s brains are wired differently than men’s. But Daniel Amen, M.D., who has been called “the most popular psychiatrist by almost any measure” by The Washington Post and has written over 30 books on the brain and brain health, has released a book dedicated entirely to the female brain and how it works. Unleash the Power of the Female Brain is a comprehensive guide to understanding a woman’s unique brain and its strengths (intuition, empathy, multi-tasking, collaboration) and vulnerabilities (anxiety, depression and a tendency to worry).

Dr. Amen devotes a chapter to sex, one of the areas where men’s and women’s brains differ the most (in our experience, at least). Here’s his advice for optimizing your brain for better orgasms (because who doesn’t want that?) in seven steps.

1. Love Your Partner: Research shows what we all suspect is true: the more a woman loves her partner, the more easily she reaches orgasm and the more intense it is. Not only is this what women report, but when their brains were studied through MRI scans while they were being presented with the names of their lovers, the greater activity there was in the left angular gyrus, an area related to memory and emotion.

2. Make Sure Your Feet Are Warm: Yup, you heard us! For a woman to relax enough to have an orgasm, it’s necessary for her to feel safe and comfortable, and having warm feet is a big part of that. That’s because the area of your brain connected to the sensation in your feet is located right next to the area responsible for the sensation in your sex organs.

3. Focus Your Attention: Many women are able to bring themselves to orgasm just by thinking, without any physical stimulation at all. Women have a very powerful ability to focus on what their feeling, which can result in very real increase in pleasure. See how aroused you can get without even being touched, then use that power while making love.

4. Breathe Deeply: There are certain smells that are more likely to turn you on than others. It differs for every woman. Determine the smell that is most erotic to you, then find a way to make your man wear it. Breathe deep.

5. Kiss: Women’s lips are extremely sensitive and packed with nerve endings. Lips have one hundred times more nerve endings than fingertips have. Kissing is great foreplay. And women need that.

6. Tell Him What You Want: No surprise here: He can’t read your mind. And if you stay passive in your lovemaking, he will never know what to do. He wants to please you, but to him, your body is a mystery. Guide him. Be prepared to tell him what to do. Again. And again. And again. He may not remember, and it’s not because he doesn’t care about you. It’s because he’s a man, and, according to Dr. Amen, he has a sleepier brain. Taking a more active role in your lovemaking will not only increase your sexual pleasure, it will deepen your relationship too.

7. Talk to Your Doctor: If you are on an antidepressant drug like Lexapro, Celexa, Zoloft, Prozac or Paxil, it may be interfering with your ability to orgasm. These drugs boost serotonin, which suppresses dopamine, the hormone that is vital in achieving orgasm. Your doctor may be able to switch your medication (for example, Welbutrin is a more stimulating antidepressant) or adjust your dosage.

Fascinating, right? Read more from Dr. Amen’s Unleash the Power of the Female Brain in this excerpt. Or, visit

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Unleash the Power of the Female Brain by Daniel Amen, M.D.
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