While a fancy meal and hand-picked gifts can surely make Valentine’s Day special, the holiday of love is really about intimacy, and there’s no better place to build that than in bed. 

But great sex doesn’t just happen. Having an understanding of the different ways men and women become aroused is key.

A study done at the University of Montreal showed that men are more sexually aroused by erotic film and images than women, while another study conducted by the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey showed that women may be spontaneously aroused by environmental stimuli, including subtle cues around them. I see this with my patients all the time. Men will often feel desire just by looking at their partners, but because women are more multi-sensory than men, they often need more of their senses engaged to feel aroused.

For hotter sex this Valentine’s Day, take deliberate steps to heighten your senses. The best sexual experiences incorporate all the senses, but starting with scents and sounds can really get the ball rolling for women.

Play around with essential oils

Have you ever smelled something that reminded you of a moment that occurred 10 or 20 years ago? Olfaction, our sense of smell, connects directly to the limbic system, the part of the brain where emotions are stored. Research shows that certain scents, such as vanilla and jasmine, can promote feelings of joy and relaxation— and we all know positive feelings are important precursors to sex. But I don’t recommend that you use perfumes or colognes. Instead, create your own scents using essentials oils, which you can find at local health food stores and are often much healthier for you than what’s sold in department stores.

For her, vanilla and jasmine are great choices, and you can switch it up a bit by looking for scents like ginger, grapefruit, neroli or ylang ylang. For him, try cabreuva oil, which is extracted from the cabreuva tree, cedarwood or sandalwood. He shouldn’t rely on natural musk. While some women like that sweaty, “manly man” smell, a report published by the Social Issues Research Centre found that there’s a very limited window before it turns from attractive to repugnant.

Once you and your partner select the oils you both like best, mix them with coconut or almond oil. Blend them together, dab on your pulse points (neck, wrists, and the backs of your knees), and use them to give each other body massages.

Talk dirty

A study published in the Journal of Sex Research measured women’s sexual arousal after listening to tapes of erotic-guided imagery and found that every single woman had been aroused. There’s a reason why “50 Shades of Grey” is so popular! Whether you like the 50 Shades trilogy or not, hearing you reading some steamy fiction will help your partner get in the mood and maybe even give you some ideas for later. If you’re at dinner, you can also boost anticipation by whispering about what you want to do when you get your partner alone.

Keep the other senses in mind

While amplifying sound and olfaction often cranks things up in a big way, highlighting all of the senses can make for an even better sexual experience. Your partner may get turned on even more by focusing on one of the other three, and you can find out by giving them this sensory quiz. If, for example, your partner particularly loves touch, try using a silk blindfold during foreplay. As it eliminates sight, the blindfold brings your sense of touch into focus.

Allowing each sense to be heightened before hitting the sheets will only make the experience better for both of you this holiday.

Dr. Jennifer Landa is Chief Medical Officer of BodyLogicMD, the nation's largest franchise of physicians specializing in bioidentical hormone therapy. Dr. Jen spent 10 years as a traditional OB-GYN, and then became board-certified in regenerative medicine, with an emphasis on bio-identical hormones, preventative medicine and nutrition. She is the author of "The Sex Drive Solution for Women."  Learn more about her programs at www.jenlandamd.com