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August 3, 2021 — 23:06 PM
Remember that episode of Friends in which Monica draws Chandler a diagram mapping out the main erogenous zones on a woman? According to Monica (and the ’90s!), there were seven female erogenous zones—but this is a big underestimation. Below, we’ll discuss over 30 erogenous zones, including some that might have been previously unknown to you.
What are erogenous zones?
“Erogenous zones are parts of the body that are more sensitive to pleasurable touch and can be stimulated more readily than other parts of the body to engender arousal,” says Kate Balestrieri, PsyD, CSAT-S, certified sex therapist and founder of Modern Intimacy. The stimulation of erogenous zones takes sex to intensely gratifying levels, and some of them can contribute to having an orgasm. A reported 12% of women are able to orgasm from stimulation of nongenital erogenous zones alone.
How many erogenous zones are there?
The thing about erogenous zones is that they’re different for everyone. While some people are driven to ecstasy by a touch on the small of their back or a tongue across their toes, others might consider the same actions nothing more than an annoying tickle. However, just because not every part of the body is felt as erogenous for everyone doesn’t mean that there are parts of the body that can be labeled “nonerogenous.” A study from 2016 demonstrated that practically every single part of the body could be considered an erogenous zone during partnered sex.
Well-known erogenous zones.
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Breasts are one of the classic erogenous zones. They feel great not just because they’re packed with nerve endings but because we have a lot of psychological associations between them and sex. Squeeze them, lick them, bite them, spank them—when it comes to boobs, the possibilities are endless.
When it comes to nipples, your mileage may vary. Some people have extremely sensitive nipples and can even orgasm from nipple play alone. (And that’s not specific to women—male nipple play is a thing, too!) But others really might not find it very exciting to have them touched, especially if they’ve had some kind of breast or chest surgery, which can damage the nerves in the area and reduce sensation. Try light pinches, sucking, ice cubes, hot breath, or little bites.
Your lips are the most erotic part of the face: They’re packed with nerve endings and can be lightly brushed with your partner’s own lips or their fingers for tingling effects. Try making out while really focusing on the sensations in your lips. You’ll be surprised by how good it feels. Research has found that kissing releases neurotransmitters, which boost mood and regulate sexual desire, as well as many other benefits of kissing.
Kissing, nibbling, or whispering sweet nothings into the neck can send shivers of delight coursing through your body. Why does it feel so good? The skin of your neck is very thin, and a whole bunch of sensory nerves are clustered there.
Touching the inner thighs drives a lot of people wild. Since the inner thighs are so close to the genitals, it’s not hard to imagine why this particular erogenous zone is so popular. Mix it up by using your fingers, mouth, or other sex toys.
Getting your butt grabbed, massaged, caressed, and spanked feels so good because it increases blood flow to the area, which is, of course, very near to your genitals. Why not set aside specific time for a butt massage in which your partner is not allowed to touch your genitals until a timer of your choosing goes off? The buildup will drive you wild.
Erogenous zones you might not have thought about.
“The scalp is a common erogenous zone that is often overlooked,” says sexologist Goody Howard, MSW, MPH. “It can be stimulated using nourishing hair oil alongside a finger massage with gentle pressure and kneading. Vibrating hair brushes can also be fun. Hair-pulling during sexual play is often appreciated as a result of the scalp being an erogenous zone. Licking and kissing the scalp (specifically for bald people) can be arousing for both the giver and the receiver.”
This zone can also be stimulated through the use of a metal scalp massager with prongs, suggests Lori Lawrenz, PsyD, a clinical psychologist with a specialization in sexual health. “Use alone or with a partner to stimulate the scalp and send tingles throughout your body,” she says.
“The ears are packed with nerve endings, nearly as many as the hands and feet,” says Kyle Zrenchik, Ph.D., ACS, LMFT, of All In Therapy. “This leaves lots of room for the brain to be flushed with stimulation and pleasure. Also, the ears are in an emotionally vulnerable area of the body: close to the face. This makes touching them emotionally intimate and sensitive as well.” He recommends stimulating them with your fingers, lips, or tongue. You can also have your favorite music on for a different kind of stimulation!
“The navel and lower stomach are huge arousal buttons for vagina owners and penis owners alike,” says Dainis Graveris, a sex educator and founder of Sexual Alpha. “Because they’re close to the genitals, stimulating these areas with your hands and mouth sends blood rushing to major erogenous zones.” Lawrenz says the navel is also a hot spot due to its status as an often exposed and visible part of the body (think crop tops), which can also be gently penetrated.
To stimulate, Graveris says this area is perfect for some temperature play, for example by using a hot washcloth or an ice cube on the area as a lead-up to oral sex.
“The sacrum, or the part just above the butt crease, is a super-sensitive area because the sacral nerves are connected to the pelvis,” says Graveris. “A lot of people feel vulnerable when they’re touched from behind, regardless of gender. So it’s no surprise why the slightest touch of this area can bring about some tingle or a lot of pleasure for some folks.”
He suggests slowly brushing the area with your fingernails, tickling it with something light like a feather or satin cloth, or simply using your lips and tongue. If you want something a little more hard-core, he also suggests using a bullet vibrator to stimulate the area.
“If you’ve tried being stimulated in the crook of your arm toward your armpits, you’ll notice how sensitive this area can be. It even elicits a tickle response because of how thin the skin is here. However, you can transform this tickling sensation into a more pleasurable one with the right touch,” Graveris explains. He suggests lightly touching your partner between their wrist and elbow and then keep running up toward the armpit. If that feels too ticklish for them, you can massage the area for a less intense sensation.
Yes, armpits can be super sexy—especially when they’re sweaty and the pheromones are out to play! Lots of people are very ticklish in their armpit area, and this sensation can easily slip into a sexually exciting feeling if the pits are touched during sex.
“Armpits get a bad rap because of the odors they emit, but for some of us, armpits are not only erogenous to smell but can also be erogenous to play with!” says sexologist Marla Renee Stewart, M.A. “Kissing and teasing the armpit can be sexy for you, especially because it is a zone that doesn’t get touched often, so it’s more sensitive than a lot of the areas on the body.”
Wrists are one of the more delicate areas on our bodies, so being firmly touched there can make us feel vulnerable, and if we’re with someone we trust, turned on. “Being pinned down by the wrists or a firm grip during a make-out session is common. Pressure play is a great way to explore pleasure with the wrists,” says Howard.
Hands have fingers, and fingers are perfect for sucking on. Why does it feel so good? Well, our fingers have a lot of nerve endings that we use to discern what we’re touching—plus, the visuals of someone sucking on our fingers can arouse all sorts of power-play dynamics, which can be super-hot.
The skin at the back of your knee is thin and sensitive. Play around with different touches there and see what leaves your partner…weak at the knees.
Feet are known as a particularly popular erotic zone, and Lawrenz says there might be a psychoanalytical explanation for that: “While crawling, one of the first things a baby sees is the foot, and thus libidinal energy is drawn toward the foot, and it becomes an area where we channel our sexual energy. Whether you have a particular affinity for feet or not, some kind of stimulation in the area can often feel wonderful.”
If you’re new to foot play, Zrenchik encourages approaching the area with creativity and confidence. He recommends alternating between soft and firm touch and using the mouth, tongue, fingers, and even genitals to stimulate the feet.
“This area demands some experimentation, and the results can be explosive. Reflexologists know that the feet [are] full of pressure points that, when stimulated correctly, can radiate relief, pleasure, and erotic energy throughout the whole body,” he adds.
The brain is our most important sexual organ! Without it we’d be lost. Everything we find sexy or arousing has to be filtered through our brains; it’s the starting point for erogenous feelings for many people. “The brain is truly where all the magic happens. Keeping your partner’s mind bathed in sensual pleasure will yield fantastic results,” Zrenchik says. “The brain is, well, the brains of the whole sexual operation. It receives data, sends signals down the body, releases love hormones (dopamine, serotonin), and instructs the body to respond. Keep the brain happy, and the body will respond.”
“Tattoos can become erogenous zones because the repeated needle-to-skin contact that creates them makes them subconsciously more sensitive,” says Howard. “The pattern of the art gives your partner something to focus on, to trace with their tongue or fingers. We are often more aware of the areas we have tattoos on, and that makes them options for arousal.”
Erogenous zones in the vaginal region.
No discussion of erogenous zones is complete without mention of the beloved clitoris. It’s probably the best known (though famously widely neglected) erogenous zone on the bodies of people with vaginas. “The clitoris is one of the primary areas linked to sexual pleasure,” notes Megan Harrison, LMFT, founder of Couples Candy. “In fact, because the clitoris does not have a reproductive function, it is believed by many scientists to exist solely for sexual pleasure. It also contains an incredible 8,000 nerve endings.”
As with everything to do with sex, communication is key to clit exploration. Gently guide your partner as to how you like to be touched. For those who want a little guidance on how to touch their partner’s clitoris, Zrenchik recommends starting with light touch around the clitoris first. “Watch how your partner responds. If you both want to go further, move closer to the clitoris itself, while maintaining light touch with your mouth, lips, tongue, and fingers,” he says. “If you both want to try direct stimulation, go for it, but go slow and soft at first.”
Some people experience that their clitoris is not particularly sensitive. If this is the case for you, you might find that a sensation-enhancing product applied directly to the clit area can help. (Here are some clitoral suction toys and clit pumps for some more inspo.)
So why does getting penetrated vaginally feel so good? “Vaginal stimulation activates the medial cortex (medial paracentral lobule). This area is located in the sensory cortex, the area of the brain that receives and interprets sensory stimulation,” says Zrenchik. “The bulk of the pleasure comes from the first 2 inches of the vaginal canal, so deeper is not necessarily better.” Use fingers, toys, or a penis to stimulate the vaginal canal. It can feel good to start slow and build up—and with plenty of lube.
The vaginal lips, otherwise known as the labia majora and minora, can be a really sensitive erogenous zone. The labia minora contain a core of erectile tissue and a great many nerve endings. Gently stroking or tracing a finger over the lips can help increase arousal and wetness. As you get more turned on, blood rushes to this highly vascularized area, and the way the lips feel to the touch becomes softer and more pliable. For better stimulation, use lube or your own personal lubrication to touch them. Make sure you’re using a lube that’s kind to your vaginal pH, such as this water-based one.
“This area, the area just above a penis/vulva, usually covered by pubic hair, can be an erogenous zone for some, and for others it’s nonresponsive,” says Zrenchik. “Women (more than men) tend to report this area as sensitive, but only just more than half. So, don’t get discouraged if you or your partner don’t get much from this area. However, don’t give up until you try a wide range of touches.” You can try licking, stroking, squeezing, and caressing the area. Observe your partner carefully to see what works, and ask them for honest feedback.
This zone isn’t for everyone—for some people having their cervix stimulated can just be plain uncomfortable, and cervical bruising is a thing. But if it’s something that works for you, then it can lead to deeply intense orgasms sometimes referred to as cervical orgasms. In order to stimulate the cervix, you’ll need a toy or a penis to penetrate you vaginally, as fingers can’t typically reach. Massage against the cervical opening (you can’t and shouldn’t penetrate it) with the toy or penis until you begin to feel waves of pleasure.
“Any attempt to stimulate this area depends on a sufficient level of arousal,” Harrison notes. So make sure you’re warmed up before diving in.
The G-spot, located on the front wall of the vagina, is thought to be a little bundle of nerve endings, which can feel very pleasurable when stimulated. It’s sometimes described as feeling like a spongy, walnut-size mound, though some experts believe the spot is actually just the area where the vagina, urethra, and internal part of the clitoris intersect.
“Using a curved dildo or G-spot vibrator is your best bet,” instructs Graveris. “Apply ample lube. Use your finger or toy in an upward curve toward your navel and use a come-hither motion. Try different pressures and sensations. Then, once you find the best one, keep at it until the sensations build up and take over your body.”
He also recommends that you adapt the toy you choose to your level of sensitivity. Look for a toy made of soft silicone instead of firm glass, for example, if you need something gentler. Furthermore, consider a rabbit-style vibrator, which stimulates your clitoris at the same time as your G-spot. This can make it much more pleasurable.
The A-spot is a nickname for the anterior fornix erogenous zone, an area that also has a lot of nerve endings, according to Graveris. It’s located between the cervix and the bladder, just a few inches past the G-spot. “The best way to stimulate the A-spot is using a longer G-spot toy. You can also go with positions that promote deeper penetrations, like doggy style,” he says.
The U-spot is named for the urethra, which is where your pee comes out. It is located in “a highly sensitive and orgasmic area of tissue located above and around the urethral opening,” explains OB-GYN Sherry A. Ross, M.D. “When this area is stimulated, there is an orgasmic response.” This area has delicate tissue, so a light touch and gentle stimulation are key. Rubbing too hard could cause discomfort, and no one wants that!
Erogenous zones in the penile region.
The head of the penis, or the glans, is the most sensitive part of the penis, with thousands of nerve endings. Therefore it should be given special attention. “During solo play, you can use various toys that focus on the penis for gentle to intensely focused stimulations,” says Graveris. He recommends the Cobra Libre 2, the Hot Octopuss Pulse, and the Arcwave Ion.
“If you have a partner, you can let them use their lubed hands and tease the tip by encircling their fingers around it. Then, they can rub their wet lips over the fleshy head, use their tongue around the rim, and finally take the glans by mouth.”
“The frenulum is an extremely sensitive piece of skin found below the penis where the shaft meets the glans. It’s super sensitive for most penis owners, especially for uncut folks. To make the most of this spot, use your thumb for grazing it during solo play. During foreplay, you can tell your partner to use their tongue and pay attention to this spot. If you’re looking for some lazy solo action, you can use penis toys that focus on the head and frenulum like those stated above,” continues Graveris.
There is a common belief that uncircumcised penises are more sensitive, but some research questions this. But regardless of which way yields the most sensation, Zrenchik says the foreskin is packed with nerve endings and therefore can be considered an erogenous zone. He recommends licking it lightly with your tongue or rolling it down the shaft—but, of course, ask your partner first how they prefer their foreskin to be touched or not touched.
“The sack is composed of many nerves that are super-sensitive to the touch,” says Graveris. “Always be gentle when playing with your balls or having your partner play with them. You can gently massage them while masturbating or have your partner do the honors during a hand job or a blowjob. Focus on the highly sensitive scrotal raphe or the seam that runs down your scrotum.” For those who are intensely turned on by this erogenous zone, a ball stretcher might be a fun option to enhance pleasure.
Erogenous zones in the anal region.
The anus has a lot of nerve endings, which add to its popularity as an erogenous zone. Furthermore, it offers the chance to enjoy “a feeling of fullness and pleasurable stretching,” says Zrenchik. For anal play, you want to focus on taking it slow and have lots of lube to hand. Start by gently pushing at your asshole with a thumb or finger and massaging around the opening. If that feels good, then you can work up to a finger, butt plug, or another anal toy.
“Keep in mind the anus can stretch a lot more than people realize,” he adds. Whatever you insert into your butt should have a flared base, to prevent it from being sucked inside you!
“The perineum, colloquially referred to as the taint or gooch, is the area between the anus and the scrotal sac. It contains fibromuscular tissue that is usually sensitive to touch, pressure, and vibrations,” says sexologist Jess O’Reilly, Ph.D. In order to stimulate the perineum, you can try gently pushing into it with a finger or two, or you can lube up your fingers and “glide” along it.
The prostate gland is around the size of a walnut and is sometimes referred to as the “male G-spot,” as it’s found in the rectum of people assigned male at birth. The prostate is a particularly mind-blowing erogenous zone for many people with penises. Graveris recommends “inserting a well-lubed finger a few inches into the rectum and applying just enough pressure” in order to get the pleasurable sensations you’re looking for. You can also start out by using a toy specifically designed for prostate massage if you’re a little uncertain about where to begin or just want to take things to the next level. (Here’s our full guide to stimulating the prostate, sometimes known as prostate milking.)
As this long list proves, there are plenty of unexpected erogenous zones to dive into in addition to the classic ones like the penis, clitoris, breasts, and lips. Which ones are your favorites?