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What Is Spiritual Sex?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on June 29, 2021

For many people, sex has many purposes. On the surface, it offers physical pleasure and release, but that’s not all. Sex can also help partners connect emotionally, building intimacy and trust. Some people even go a step further, and view sex as not just a physical and emotional experience, but as a spiritual one too. 

There are many definitions of spiritual sex, just as there are for spirituality. Some people consider spiritual sex to be actively connected to their religious practice. Others see it as a specific set of spiritual practices, also known as Tantric sex. Yet others see it just as a way of having sex that leads to a deeper, spiritually-fulfilling connection with a partner.

There’s no wrong way to have spiritual sex. With such a broad variety of meaning, there’s almost certainly going to be a way to add spirituality to your sex life that feels right to you. 

What Is the Difference Between Spiritual Sex and Tantric Sex?

Tantric sex is a practice that originally stems from certain teachings in Hinduism, known as Tantra. The original act of tantric sex is a very focused activity that is intended to help the partners reach a state of bliss without orgasm. Tantra teaches that this is a ritual and a way of worshipping, not an act that is intended for regular sexual activity.

Modern, Western “neotantric” sex is different and almost entirely divorced from religion. Instead of acting as a part of worship, neotantric sex is intended to help both partners feel closer and to encourage stronger orgasms by delaying them. When many people think of spiritual sex, they are thinking about sex that has elements of neotantric practices involved. 

However, spiritual sex is much broader than just neotantric practices. Spiritual sex can include any elements that feel appropriate for you. This may include lighting candles, giving and receiving a massage, praying, or any other act you associate with spirituality

Myths and Misconceptions about Spiritual Sex

Despite what you may think, spiritual sex is not rooted in any one religion. While certain forms of spiritual sex may have connections to different religious traditions, anyone can have sex that they feel is spiritual. There are writings by thinkers from a wide variety of religions supporting spiritual sex as not just possible, but important aspects of personal religious worship. It is never necessary to engage in spiritual sex, but regardless of your own beliefs, spiritual sex is an option. In fact, studies show that people who self-identify as spiritual may be more likely to have sex frequently. 

How to Explore Spiritual Sex (Solo or with a Partner)

If you are interested in having spiritual sex, then you have several options. Your first and most important step should be to decide whether you want to explore spiritual sex on your own or with a partner. 

If you decide to keep spiritual sexuality private, then you can begin whenever you feel comfortable. Decide what type of spiritual sex interests you: explicitly religious, neotantric, or something else. From there, you can pick and choose acts that make you feel comfortable. 

You can also try spiritual sex with a partner. It is likely to be an intense experience, so choose a partner with whom you feel comfortable. You will need to communicate often to make sure that everyone involved is enjoying the activities. Your partner will also have preferences when it comes to any potential spiritual and sexual acts you perform. Work with them to create a spiritual experience that works for both of you.

Safety Advice and Special Considerations

Spiritual sex is intensely personal for most people. If you would like to engage in some form of spiritual sex with a partner, discuss the act with them beforehand. Some people may be uncomfortable with adding spiritual elements to sex, or may not like the particular acts you are considering. It’s important to communicate with your partners about sex, and even more so when you are considering adding a spiritual element to the activity. 

Signs That It’s a Problem

In rare cases, it’s possible for spiritual sex to cause problems in your personal life. If you or your partner feels uncomfortable with the spiritual sex you are having, then you may want to take a step back from the practice and discuss your feelings. Combining sex and spirituality can deeply affect some people, and not always positively. Some people may feel guilt or shame about spiritual sex. If you notice these feelings, you may want to pause or stop having spiritual sex until you have identified the root of these feelings or otherwise feel comfortable beginning again.  

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Journal of Sex Research: “Relations Among Religiousness, Spirituality, and Sexual Practices.”

RAINN: “What Consent Looks Like.”

Refinery29: “6 Ways To Have More Spiritually Fulfilling Sex.”

Religious Tolerance: “Tantric sex in its Eastern & Western forms.”

Woman and Goddess in Hinduism: “The Kālī Practice: Revisiting Women’s Roles in Tantra.”

Yale Divinity School: “Sex as a Spiritual Exercise.”

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