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The Psychology of Listening to Music During Sex

Music can benefit psychological and sexual well-being

~ March 2021~ Something happens when you drop the needle on an album and the strains of Marvin Gaye’s voice singing about getting it on meets you pulling your lover close to you. Ok, maybe for you it’s not Marvin Gaye, maybe it’s Taylor Swift or Beyoncé. It could be Philip Glass or even Rob Zombie. Regardless of the artist, the effect is the same when you are listening during a sexual encounter. The combination of music and sex has long played an integral part in our cultural landscape. From the radio emitting music to the backseat of the car to Alexa taking musical requests at the bedside, music has enhanced the sexual experience for many generations. And it’s not just used to cover up the sounds of lovemaking in a house full of family or roommates. There is a psychological impact that music has in relation to sex.

Ivan Samkov/PexelsSource: Ivan Samkov/Pexels

Music has the ability to induce feelings of pleasure (Mallik, Chanda, and Levitin, 2017). It can also add to physical and psychological rewards when paired with a sexual encounter. Listening to music prompts the release of dopamine. For many, that chemical response of pleasure acts to stimulate arousal and elevate a sexual interlude when music and sex are combined in a singular experience. Listening to music increases heart rate and breathing — both signs of arousal — and pleasure from music can prepare the body for sexual pleasure. According to neuropsychologist Dr. Rhonda Freeman, music has a direct effect on the pleasure, bonding, and limbic systems of the brain. Beyond the rush of dopamine produced, there are several socio-psychological benefits associated with the combination of sex and music:

  • Having music play while having sex can diminish inhibition. There is a spontaneous and freeing feeling associated with listening to music and that can result in letting go of sexual inhibitions that may have held some individuals back from experiencing higher levels of sexual pleasure. Maybe it frees you up to be more spontaneous, adventurous, and try new things to increase the sexual experience. We know the effect of music can have on inhibitions. After all, it is the very reason an entire town outlawed rock music and dancing in “Footloose.”
  • Not only can music relax sexual inhibitions, it has been shown to reduce stress, which can hinder sexual arousal and pleasure.
  • Listening to music during sex can curb nervousness and distract an individual away from negative thoughts, such as concerns about their body image or performance.
  • Apart from distraction, music can help one focus on the task at hand. And what partner doesn’t want their lover to be more focused on them?
  • Music is bonding and a heightened sense of bonding with your partner increases intimacy and, as a result, sexual pleasure.
  • Rhythms of the music can inspire rhythms in movement. A good rhythm to the music may aid in performance and increasing satisfaction. This is especially helpful if there has been a problem with movement being awkward in the past.
  • Music, by itself, has many effects on our well-being apart from being a stress reliever. Listening to music can be a confidence builder. Confidence in bed promotes performance and satisfaction.
  • Music can start things off right by putting you in the mood, especially if there are some issues with lower sex drive. Although, of course, issues with low sex drive may be indicative of a more serious issue that needs the involvement of health professionals and would not be solved by listening to your favorite recording artists.
  • It’s not only physical arousal that can be heightened by including music into the sexual environment. Music contributes to an increase in emotional arousal, again benefiting the sexual experience.

But not everyone wants music playing while they are involved in a sexual encounter. Some may find the addition to be distracting. Some need to hear the sounds of pleasure from their partner to be aroused themselves, or their arousal is increased by those sounds, and music playing covers up the pleasured noises emitted from the throat or the sounds of deep breathing from a partner. And, there are simply some people who do not like music… at all, so they will derive no satisfaction from playing music while they are having sex.  Still, for many, music is an aphrodisiac.

Listening to the music that gives you the most pleasure can, in turn, inspire more emotional and sexual pleasure with your partner. Music can contribute to a heightened sense of sexual well-being physically and psychologically. So, drop a little Barry Manilow on the turntable (yes, I went there) and explore the sexual response with your partner.


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