The key to a great sex life is a healthy brain, according to psychiatrist and brain imaging specialist Dr. Daniel Amen. Having accumulated a database of over 36,000 brain scans taken over the past 15 years, Dr. Amen says the way the brain looks and functions says a lot about the way a person will behave. In his book Sex on the Brain: 12 Lessons to Enhance Your Love Life, Dr. Amen reveals how to use practical brain science to enhance your sex life and your relationships. Here are just a few of his findings:
The brain is the largest sex organ in the body, Dr. Amen says.
Brain health and brain illness have a powerful affect on sexuality. "When your brain works right, you work right," he says. "You can be loving, thoughtful, attentive, consistent, romantic, playful."
There are many "brain issues" that get in the way of great sex, such as Attention Deficit Disorder and depression. Treating these issues can enhance our ability to connect with others and perform sexually, Dr. Amen says. He recommends omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil, exercise and l-tyrosine (the amino acid building block for the neurotransmitter dopamine) for increasing the activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, thereby diminishing these conditions.
Changing the way you think about a problem can change your brain scan, hence your brain function. "If you focus on five things you're grateful for every day, you're going to have a lot less problems with depression," Dr. Amen says, "And depression is a huge turn off when it comes to sex."
Male and female brains are different. Understanding these differences is critical to a healthy sex life, Dr. Amen says.
According to Dr. Amen, women need to ask for what they want sexually, and must teach their men through repetition, practice and good coaching.
A foot rub really is foreplay. "What a lot of people don't know is that the foot area in the brain—the area of your brain that feels your feet—is right next door to the area of the brain that feels your genitals," Dr. Amen explains.
There are real aphrodisiacs, Dr. Amen says, and it's all about blood flow. Dr. Amen says he uses Asian ginseng, gingko biloba and L-arginine, all of which boost blood flow to the brain. On the flipside, Dr. Amen says anything that decreases blood flow to your brain decreases it to your genitals, including caffeine, nicotine and a lack of sleep. In addition, Dr. Amen says some natural aphrodisiacs for men are cooked cinnamon, pumpkin pie, donuts, lavender, cheese pizza and roast beef. He says baby powder works well for women.
Printed from Oprah.com on Friday, December 6, 2013