The Anatomy of Pleasure : The Sexy Side of Sensory Nerve Endings
To fully explore your capacity for sensual and sexual pleasure, it is useful to know a little bit about how pleasure works in our body. Our anatomy is an intricate, awe-inspiring feat of chemistry and physics, and serves as a useful roadmap to the experiences we crave.
Pleasure begins with a stimulus, and ends with a response, a full body reaction that our system perceives experiences as pleasure. The stimulus can be from any of the five senses – sight, smell, sound, touch or taste. It can even be the thought of pleasure – we humans are so hardwired for pleasure that a thought alone can trigger powerful physical responses.
Your sensory nerves cover your entire body, inside and out, providing the brain with constant information about both the external and internal environment. The densest concentrations of nerve endings are found in the fingertips, lips, clitoris, penis and anus. There are four kinds of sensory nerves in the skin – some detect tiny vibrations on the surface of the skin, others detect deeper pressure. There are even specialized nerve endings to detect changes in temperature. All senses are highly specialized variations of touch sensors: the sensory nerves in your ears, for example, are tiny filaments that respond to the vibration of sound waves.
Each nerve ending has a “threshold” for stimulation – at a certain point (of vibration, pressure, heat, etc) the nerve will fire, creating an electrical impulse that travels up the nerve axon. When it reaches the end of the nerve fiber, a chemical reaction “jumps” across the space (synapse) to the next nerve ending, where the impulse again travels up that nerve fiber, and so on until the signal reaches the brain. These signals travel through our body at up to 250 miles per hour, so you feel stimulation on your toe within a tiny fraction of a second.
Our sensory nerves are constantly firing, providing our brain with valuable information about our surroundings, our activities and other sensory inputs. It is astonishing that our brain handles so much information, constantly throughout the day, and we barely notice this process going on.
Sensory nerves raise the threshold for firing when there is a consistent, steady input of sensation. This is why you don’t notice the clothes you are wearing most of the time – but if a wrinkle forms in your pants and it stimulates your skin in a new way, you’ll notice.
This is true as well for repeated stimulation in massage and sex – if you do the same thing over and over, exactly the same way, the person you are touching will begin feeling it less. Repetition feels good- you can get into a trancelike rhythm of sensation that can be relaxing and arousing. But variation keeps things fresh and unexpected. As in music, repetition with variation creates the most pleasurable outcome.
The more we learn and discover what our bodies are capable of, the more we can feel at home in our sexuality and desires, and know how to create profoundly pleasurable sex for all involved! If you are interested in exploring the Pleasure Mechanics strategies and techniques for maximum pleasure, get started for free with our Erotic Essentials course.