The Art of Arousal

How to achieve a heightened state of pleasure for ultimate sexual satisfaction.

People often talk about sex and pleasure as if they’re simple. Just touch each other’s private parts, obviously, and you’ll rocket to heights of starry-eyed bliss.

But it’s not always that easy, is it?

Keeping the sexual spark alive is tough. Maybe sex used to leave you breathless in the best ways, but over time the effect has fizzled. Or perhaps the spark is still there, but there’s a desire for more. Or maybe you never quite figured out what all the hubbub was about in the first place.

Whatever the case, chances are the key to complete sexual satisfaction lies in learning the Art of Arousal.

What is arousal?

Sexual arousal is a combination of physiological and psychological responses to sexual stimuli. People commonly refer to being aroused as being ‘turned on.’

You can become aroused by a wide range of stimuli, including:

  • images and videos
  • stories
  • ideas
  • activities
  • touch
  • people

Some people even become aroused by certain tastes, smells, or sounds.

Once aroused, your nipples and penis or clitoris usually become firm and your muscles may become tense. You may also experience a drop in inhibition and a heightened emotional state.

Altogether, the effects of arousal can create quite a heady experience. Most people find this pleasant and feel the desire to engage in sexual activity whether alone or with partners.

Why is arousal important?

Photo by Miguel Acosta on

Without arousal, it’s extremely difficult to experience sexual pleasure.

In fact, orgasm is the peak of sexual arousal. No arousal? No orgasm.

That’s not to say that having an orgasm is the event that defines good sex. For some, good sex includes orgasm. For others, it doesn’t.

However, most people would agree that arousal is a critical part of good sex.

Being aroused increases physical sensitivity and our perception of pleasure. When we’re not aroused, a kiss on the neck might feel ticklish. When we’re aroused, it might make us feel like melting into a puddle of pleasure.

Without arousal, many people in relationships find that the desire for sex quickly fizzles. Lacking the feel-good effects of heightened pleasure, our brains and bodies decide that sex simply isn’t as fun as we previously thought.

Tapping Into Arousal for Better Sex

Ready to learn the Art of Arousal so you and your partner can soar to new pleasure heights? Great!

The Art of Arousal involves two things we’ve already discussed: the mind and the body.

It also includes one more thing: the heart.

Matters of the Heart

According to research by Cambridge, relationship issues are one of the top causes of problems with arousal. If your relationship isn’t in a good place, it’s a good idea to work on that before or alongside your work on arousal.

Additionally, if your hearts just aren’t in it when it comes to addressing arousal issues, you likely won’t get far. Arousal rarely springs up magically. It takes work and patience to learn the Art of Arousal, and that takes commitment from everyone involved.

Need a place to start? Take my Art of Arousal class. You’ll master arousal skills and learn how to maximize pleasure with partners.

Your Largest Sexual Organ

While your skin probably deserves the official title of the largest sexual organ, it’s no wonder why people often name a different one: the brain.

Your brain serves as a central hub for all things pleasurable. It analyzes sexual stimuli and situations, receives signals from your nerve endings, and releases the chemicals that activate arousal.

Your brain is designed to keep you alive first and foremost. That means if it is activated into fight, flight, or freeze mode, it will be focused primarily on protecting you and unable to process sexual stimuli.

Similarly, an anxious brain preoccupied by long to-do lists or heavy worries will also struggle to respond to sexual inputs.

It’s hard to get turned on if you’re often overwhelmed. This is why survivors of trauma and people struggling with stress or anxiety frequently have trouble getting aroused.

The Art of Arousal includes two essential skills that cater to the mind:

  1. Removing stressors, fears, anxieties, and other negative emotions from the situation
  2. Adding arousal accelerators like romance, fantasy, confidence, and sensuality.

Both of these skills are equally important. In the book Come As You Are, author Emily Nagoski describes negative emotions as arousal ‘brakes’ getting in the way of arousal accelerators.

Even if you have your foot on an accelerator, you won’t get anywhere if you also have your foot on the brakes. In fact, the results of that can be quite catastrophic.

Trying to push through negative emotions to feel excited and aroused rarely goes well. Try taking this assessment from Come As You Are to determine how much your brakes affect your experience of sexual arousal. Then, talk with your partner about reducing the impact of brakes when it comes to sex.

Next, brainstorm all the times you have felt sexually aroused in your life. List these situations, noting the specific context of each. Once you’ve done this, use Nagoski’s Sexual Cues Assessment to come up with ways you and your partner can create more arousing contexts.

If you need help developing these skills, book a free discovery call with me to see if sex coaching is right for you.

Our Pleasure Parts

Photo by Marina M on

Finally, we’ve gotten to the section about the sexy bits of our bodies.

Besides the psychological aspects of arousal, there are also of course the physiological ones.

For some people, arousal issues might stem from an issue with medications, hormones, or health conditions. It’s important to check in with your doctor to rule out these possible sources of trouble with getting aroused.

For penis owners, issues with erection are often a major cause of concern when it comes to arousal. This is also worth bringing up with your doctor to rule out health issues.

Once you’ve ruled out medical causes, you’re ready to learn the sensory skills of the Art of Arousal.

Arousal Skill #1: Fostering Sensuality

Many people rush to touch when it comes to arousal. While touch is an extremely powerful arousal tool, it is far from the only one.

As mentioned earlier, some people can become around by certain tastes, sounds, scents. Many people also become aroused with the right visual cues, even imagined ones like fantasy scenarios.

You can foster sensuality by ensuring that the space in which you’re attempting to ignite arousal smells pleasant, or at last clean. It should also be tidy and free of distractions. Sensual music may be helpful, and you can look for instrumental playlists to reduce potentially distracting lyrics if you’d like.

Many people appreciate a delicious dinner, dessert, or treat as part of their warm-up to sex. Others may request a bubble bath or a massage. Talk with your partner about what sensuality looks like for your relationship.

Arousal Skill #2: Pleasurable Touch

Once you’ve set up the perfect sensual scenario for you and your partner, it’s important to remember that pleasurable touch can happen in many places besides our genitals.

Many people are unaware that erogenous zones include the:

  • lower back
  • inner wrist
  • ear
  • neck
  • scalp
  • lower stomach
  • lips
  • inner arms
  • palms
  • back of knees
  • inner thighs
  • bottom of feet
  • fingers and toes

All of these areas deserve loving exploration and attention. Try giving each other gentle massages focused on these areas to begin unlocking arousal. Make sure the massages last at least ten minutes each.

Arousal Skill #3: Erotic Touch

Erotic touch is a form of pleasurable touch. It’s just a specific kind of touch focused on the nipples and genitals.

For images and instructions on genital touch, check out my FREE activity book: Talking About Orgasm.

Get Your Orgasm eBook

Every person, regardless of their genitals, likes to be touched differently when it comes to erotic touch. That being said, there are some things to know about these parts of our anatomy that can be helpful:

  • The areolas and nipples. Almost everyone has nipples, and nearly everyone has a different reaction to having their nipples and areolas touched. Some people feel very little sensation here, while others are very sensitive. Many people experience changes in sensation due to age or pregnancy. Experiment with tracing circles around the nipples, gently squeezing them, and licking or sucking them to discover what each other like.
  • The vulva. The vulva is the outwardly visible genital area of people with a vagina. It consists of the mons pubis, outer labia, inner labia, vaginal opening, urethral opening, clitoris glans, and clitoral hood. After ten minutes of non-genital pleasurable touch, the vulva usually becomes slightly swollen and more sensitive, making lubricated rubbing here feel quite lovely for most.
  • The clitoris glans. For people with a vulva, the clitoris glans with its 8,000 nerve endings is typically the most reliable source of intense pleasure, arousal, and orgasm. You may need to press upwards above the clitoral hood to reveal the clitoris glans. Using a well-lubricated finger or tongue, experiment with rubbing back and forth, up and down, next to, or in circles around the clitoris. You can also kiss and gently suck on the clitoris. Use different pressures and get feedback from your partner about what feels good.
  • The penis. For penis-owners, the glans of the penis (often called the ‘head’) is usually the most sensitive part. On the underside of the glans is a small patch of skin known as the frenulum that is especially pleasurable to rub with lubrication. Don’t focus only on these areas, however. The entire penis is full of erotic pleasure potential. Use well-lubricated hands to stroke it all the way from the tip of the penis to the base, then back again with each stroke. Vary the pressure and motions, and experiment with different ways of adding your lips, mouth, and tongue to enhance stimulation of the glans.

Arousal Skill #4: Communication

Finally, the last and most important skill when it comes to maintaining arousal over the course of any relationship is communication.

It’s so important to express to your partner what feels good and what doesn’t. It’s equally important that you ask them questions and listen to their answers about what feels good and what doesn’t.

This information is critical to getting, and staying, in tune with one another’s arousal. Communicate not only about your physical pleasure experiences, but also about anything that comes up that affects your head and heart.

With time and communication, you can unleash all of your pleasure potential using the Art of Arousal. From there, there’s no telling just how high you’ll take your sexual pleasure.

Ready to soar to new pleasure heights? Take an Art of Arousal class or book a free discovery call with me.

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Published by Shannon Burton

Erotic Ignition Coach by day, poet and flash fiction author by night, I occasionally manage to get out of the house and enjoy New Orleans as it's meant to be.

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