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Hi, hey, hello. Are you worried you have too many erogenous zones and not enough time? Well, friend, you’re half right. It turns out there are literally handfuls (*wink wink*) of zones on your body that can make your toes curl and send shivers down your spine.
Usually, uber-busy adult life allows us only so much time for eroticism, keeping us hyperfocused on only the right-below-the-belt zones in hopes of a quick trip to O-Town (where orgasms live, not the boy band from the early 2000s).
And while we love orgasms just as much as the next person, there’s much more to explore on the way there — like the bushels of nerve endings and sneaky little areas that are hella sensitive to touch, pressure, or vibration (aka your erogenous zones).
Why you should trust us
Not bragging, but we have science backing us up on these pleasure points. Plus, we have a couple of sex therapists (notice us fully resisting the urge to call them “sexperts”) that gave us the lowdown on all things erogenous zones.
Dr. Sara C. Flowers, vice president of education and training at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, says that while genitals are generally considered the biggest erogenous zone for most people, that’s not the case for everyone.
“The best part about erogenous zones is that everyone is different, so your erogenous zones can be too. Any part of your body can be considered sexual, so have fun exploring your own and ask your partner(s) about theirs,” she says.
Beth Ryland, a relationship and sex therapist in Stillwater, Minnesota, says touching areas of the body that are often considered “nonsexual” can also be a great way to connect with your partner.
Let’s get into it, shall we?
Scalp: A must-massage zone
“When you think about it,” Phillips asks, “how often does your scalp get touched?” He points out how damn good it feels to get your scalp massaged when visiting your salon.
Try this: Whether it’s a gentle brushing across the scalp, some light scratching with nails, or hair-tugging, paying the scalp special attention according to your or your partner’s pressure preferences can really heat things up.
P.S. For those who love scalp stuff a little extra, Phillips says there’s actually a thriving kink community obsessed with this erogenous zone. “There are head-rubbing people that are really into it,” he says.
Ears: Lobes of love
Try this: Gently kiss, nibble, lick, or even blow into your partner’s ear to get the tingles flowing. You can also massage their ears and lobes to trigger deep relaxation.
Inner arm and armpit: A relaxation station
OK, yes, this is def a tickle zone, but if you can get past that, it’s a serious opportunity for pleasure.
Phillips says people report arousal when their partner has longer nails and they touch or rub this area. “I have clients say that when they can’t go to sleep at night, they will actually rub their inner arm and it relaxes them.”
Guess what? Pits are also a fetish. “It’s a part of the body — just like feet — that some people are into,” Phillips says. “Some people like them hairy. I think it’s an area that people [outside the kink community] don’t tap into that much.”
He says some people even love the smell. “Of course it gives off a body smell because that’s where we sweat, but it’s also a place that’s very erotic, very sensitive, and can give a lot of pleasure.”
Try this: Run your fingers, a toy (like a feather), or even your tongue up and down the inner arm or armpit.
Navel and lower stomach: Not to be underestimated
Phillips points out that the belly button not only is associated with sexuality for its proximity to the genitals but also has a history of primal and erotic associations. “It [is associated with being] the giver of life, and it’s rich in nerve endings,” he says.
According to Phillips, playing around with this much-underrated zone may make you feel sexy sensations in the surrounding region, specifically “across the fibers that actually lead to your spinal cord, which also relay information from your bladder and your urethra to your brain.” Whoa.
Phillips explains that this is why some people report feeling tingly sensations in their genitals after their belly button is stimulated.
Try this: Play around with different textures and temperatures, like feathers or ice cubes, tracing or tickling them across your belly button and lower belly area. Or you could have your partner use their mouth to tease your belly button, kissing or licking around it. Caressing the area for solo action is a fire move too.
Small of the back, back in general: Body orgasm warning
Sure, your lower back is pretty close to your genitals, but Phillips says it’s an erogenous zone for another reason: “The back is very sensitive because, again, we often don’t have our backs touched — unless you get a massage. We can’t really reach around and rub our backs.” Don’t remind us. 😔
Phillips also explains that an orgasm involves more than just ejaculating: “[Ejaculating] is just the biological piece… you also have an orgasm throughout your whole body. That’s what these erogenous zones do, and the back is definitely known for that.”
Another cool takeaway? One of the areas Phillips specializes in is sex and disability. He says clients living with cerebral palsy or other conditions in which their genitals may not function at 100 percent can discover alternative sensations — like the kind you get from a back massage.
“I’ve had clients before that have actually talked about having the intensity of an orgasmic experience because of [a back rub],” Phillips says.
Try this: Caressing and rubbing according to your or your partner’s pressure preference is one way to get started. This is also a good area for using ice cubes, a vibrator, or (for the brave) a pinwheel.
Inner thighs: No better place to graze
Phillips tells us the inner thighs are extremely sensitive to touch. “I think the goal is to really engage and touch yourself there to see if it feels good to you and to explore. Then you can have your partner do that.” Plus, he adds, the inner thighs are super close to the genitals, so they’re getting a lot of the same stimulation.
Ryland says you can stimulate the inner thighs (as well as the palms and the bottoms of the feet, which we’ll get to shortly) with touch to help build trust, to help your partner relax and warm up before sex, or just as a sensual way to connect.
Try this: On yourself, try different strokes of caressing or grazing. On a partner, do the same, but you can add kisses. Ryland suggests gently running the backs of your fingers up your partner’s inner thighs as you sit in front of them.
Palm of the hands and fingertips: Hand-holding is so hot right now
Our hands are usually overworked because they touch everything. And the palms are very, very sensitive, Phillips says.
“Some type of touch with the hands can really give a lot of sensation to the person’s body in a lot of ways because it’s one area that’s touched often,” he says.
Another bonus: Phillips explains that when someone else’s hands are touching your hands, it can create a lot of eroticism on its own. Who knew hand-holding was so frickin’ hot?
Try this: Ryland recommends taking your partner’s hands palm up in each of yours and rubbing their palms with a firm, circular massage using your thumbs. Bring their palm to your lips or cheek afterward. For a boost of intimacy, add some strong sexy eye contact.
Inner wrists: Grab ’em or graze ’em
The inner wrists are similar to the palms and fingertips in their potential for sensitivity. They’re often overlooked but can really get things cooking.
Try this: Ryland suggests kissing or licking the inner wrists gently or grabbing ’em firmly and pinning them to a bed (preferences, people!).
Behind the knee: A dopamine hack
This zone is often chopped liver, and we’re here to change that. Not only is this zone just as fun to explore as the more famous ones, but it’s another one that Phillips says can be important for those living with disabilities.
He says stimulating this spot can be super intense during the anticipation stage and can help you or your partner reach that sexual peak.
“There’s a spike in dopamine, which is the neurotransmitter that’s really associated with pleasure and reward. So, I’ve had people who’ve had the back of the knees touched and it’s really given them that dopamine rush.”
Try this: Try soft touch with your hands for yourself or your partner, adding some mouth work (like softly kissing or licking) for your partner as well.
Bottom of feet or toes: Not just for fetish folks
Ryland says feet often need a deeper touch in order to avoid a tickling sensation, but she adds that some people might enjoy being tickled.
And for toes? “I think the toes can be somewhat sensitive,” Phillips says. “I think the arch of the foot or the bottom of the foot [is] the most sensitive, but I think the toes can be [too]. Some people like their toes sucked on.”
Try this: A good old-fashioned foot massage. “Sometimes people don’t want their feet touched [because] it tickles too much,” Phillips explains. But for those who love having their feet touched, a foot massage can be sexy AF. “It can be erotic because it sends sensations completely up the body,” he says.
For those who truly fancy feet (see what we did there?), Phillips says “footjobs” are very hot right now: “I’ve had a lot of male clients say they love being masturbated by feet — like a footjob.”
Pubic mound: Mounds of moans
Just as the name suggests, this is the mound that sits just above the clitoris. It has nerve endings for daysss.
Phillips says focusing on the pubic mound is a really good option for people who feel overstimulated when their clitoris is touched.
“Often women or vulva owners have said their clit can be very sensitive and they don’t like it touched. However, they can have their pubic mound massaged, [which can] be very erotic and it can really create a lot of sensations throughout the body,” he says.
Try this: This is a good area for massage with your hands, your tongue, or a vibrator, according to your partner’s preferences.
The clitoris: A ticket to climax maximus
The clitoris is extremely sensitive — literally, it’s home to thousands of nerve endings. For most people who have one, the clit is pretty freakin’ important for reaching the Big O. But it’s not just a tiny button of pleasure.
Thanks to 3-D models of the clitoris, we now know that it’s actually shaped like a wishbone. The part you can see outside the body is “just the tip.” Internal parts of the clitoris extend down to encircle the vaginal canal and reach toward the anus.
You can certainly stimulate the clit externally, but you can also go for a little indirect rub from the inside or even some butt play.
Try this: Fingers and vibrators can do wonderful things here. Experiment with pressure and speed preferences for yourself or your partner (it’s usually best to start slowly and gently). Communication is KEY here, people!
The vagina: The G-spot, the A-spot, and beyond
Heard of the famous sexual pleasure bull’s-eye called the G-spot? Yeah, researchers are pretty sure that doesn’t exist — or at least not in the way we’ve thought of it. But there’s still a pleasurable point to be found.
The “G-spot,” said to be located on the anterior (front) wall of the vagina, is likely the center of that clitoral wishbone rather than a completely different part of the anatomy that heightens pleasure.
The A-spot (formally named the anterior fornix) is about 2 inches deeper in the vagina than the G-spot, and it’s also brimming with nerve endings.
Plus, the vaginal opening and interior do contain nerve endings, and stimulation there can bring on an immense amount of satisfaction.
Try this: Curved fingers or toys are thought to be best for reaching these spots. Using a “come hither” gesture with your finger may just activate TF out of them (you’re welcome), but you might need a toy to reach and stimulate the A-spot since it’s a bit deeper.
Cervix: Nerve endings up for grabs *literally*
The cervix, located at the top of the vaginal canal, has its own feel-good nerve pathways that can contribute to arousal and climax. In fact, it’s possible to have an orgasm solely from cervical stimulation.
Try this: The cervix is pretty deep — in fact, it’s as deep as you can get with a penis or toy in the female anatomy — so stimulating it might take a little maneuvering. Doggy-style sex and longer internal sex toys are the best way to reach it. And once you do, you’ll know it. 🤤
Frenulum: A penis owner’s BFF
The penis obviously makes the list as a magic wand for awakening desire. And while this can be a sensitive subject, a 2013 research review suggests circumcision doesn’t decrease sensation or sexual satisfaction.
Take a look under a penis and you’ll see an elastic bit of skin called the frenulum. This is where the shaft and head of the penis meet. This bit is hella sensitive, and it’s the go-to trigger spot for reaching climax for people with penises.
Try this: This area is a good opportunity to get creative with yourself or your partner. Anything goes — hands, mouth, toys, you name it. To activate the frenulum, work your lubed-up hand up and down the shaft, allowing your thumb to play with this particular piece of skin. Flicking it during oral sex can especially kick things off.
The scrotum and testicles: A stimulating sack
The scrotum is one of the most notable erogenous zones, but the sack is super sensitive to touch. So be gentle when engaging in a little handball.
“The testicles are really sensitive and can actually cause quite an eroticism in people,” Phillips says. “They can cause someone to become very erect when they need to be.”
Try this: Phillips says testicles are great to have massaged. He says touching and mouth work (including licking!) can feel really good in this area.
Phillips also says those who like it a little rough may like to have their testicles pulled on.
He explains, “Genitive sensory cortex is activated through stimulation of testicles, and research actually suggests that with testicle play, it releases oxytocin, which also includes both relaxation and pleasure.”
The prostate: The other G-spot
Phillips describes the prostate — the walnut-size gland that rests at the root of the penis — as the G-spot for penis owners. “It is the one area that is definitely made for pleasure,” he says.
Try this: Phillips says penis owners can get prostate massages (provided by some sexological bodyworkers). There’s also a ton of toys you can try for massaging the prostate.
“There’s a few out there where you can insert them and they have different levels of vibration,” he says. He likes to recommend Lovense, a prostate massager that lets your partner control the vibes from their phone.
“When some people have their prostate massaged, some people automatically have an orgasm, some folks can really get to that peak of the orgasm, so it really is that spot,” he says.
If you’d rather go manual (after chatting with your partner, ofc!), gently insert your finger a couple of inches into their rectum, putting some pressure on the front wall. When your partner says it’s feeling good, keep it up and see if you can multitask on their penis (stroking, etc.).
Foreskin: Extra skin, extra sensations
Attention penis owners with foreskin: This zone is extremely sensitive.
Why? The foreskin is rich with nerve endings, which — as we’ve learned — is key to heightening sexual pleasure. This extra layer of skin gives lots of options for shaking things up, especially during outercourse.
“Playing with the foreskin can be very erotic, but of course you want to make sure that the person is very clean in that area,” Phillips suggests.
This zone is also a BOGO. “Some people have reported that they really enjoy being with folks who are uncut or uncircumcised because… the head of the penis is really tucked inside of the foreskin,” he says. So, in addition to being a major pleasure zone for you, it could also be one for your sex partner.
Try this: Phillips says he’s had clients who have described going down on their uncircumcised male partners and actually blowing into the foreskin like a balloon. “The foreskin can pop out, and when it pops out, it can bring a lot of sensitivity to the head [of the penis].”
Head of the penis: A glans-on experience
Glans = the head of the penis. It’s a lot like a clitoris because it’s the most sensitive part of the penis, so buckle up for a roller coaster of pleasure.
Try this: The glans can be stimulated via touch or toys. Phillips says a lot of people enjoy Fleshlights for masturbatory play. Your partner can also use their lips and tongue to gently rub it and realllly make your toes curl.
The perineum: It taint to be forgotten
The perineum is the area between your anus and your sexy bits — whatever type of sexy bits you have. It earned its slang name because “it ain’t” your bum or your genitals. But the taint shouldn’t be defined by what it isn’t. It can be a serious source of pleasure.
We could offer a lengthy anatomy lesson, but the bottom line (pun intended) is that within the perineum lies the perineal nerve. This nerve transmits signals of arousal from your genitals up your spinal cord to your noggin.
If you ain’t had the pleasure of a little taint play, we’ll leave you to it.
Try this: You can reach this destination on yourself for sure. But with a partner, get consent and then do the ol’ reach-around and rub this area.
Another option is reaching between the legs during Missionary-style sex. Your knuckle can be a good tool for applying pressure here, sliding it back and forth. (P.S. The closer you perform this toward your or your partner’s climax, the better.)
The anus: Certainly not a bummer
Yep, a little rear action can lead to lots of sexual excitement. Researchers in a 2016 study surveyed more than 700 people, asking them to indicate on a diagram the parts of the body they perceived as erogenous zones. And let’s just say the butt lit up.
Try this: If you’re down, you can go for full-on anal sex. If not, you can still engage in butt play with a little rim caressing or finger penetration. Even just touching the cheeks and the upper thighs can increase arousal.
The breasts and nipples: Tantalizing ta-tas
Using MRI technology, a landmark 2011 study found that nipple stimulation in women activated the genital sensory cortex, the same part of the brain revved by the clitoris, vagina, and cervix. People with penises have a genital sensory cortex, too, and the penis sends its signals there.
Try this: For general boob lovin’, as with all the other zones, do some experimenting to get to know your or your partner’s preferences. How does soft touch or caress feel? Need more pressure? How about some firmer massaging then?
For stimulating nipples, have that same chat about preferences (keeping in mind that they can change), and then do some sucking, licking, or flicking to see what gets things steamy. Need more extreme measures? Experiment with nipple clamps.
The mouth and lips: Pleasure in the pucker
Science says we kiss because it floods our bodies with natural feel-good chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin. These chemicals can fuel desire for our partners by juicing our excitement. So go ahead and rediscover the pleasure (and health benefits) of first base.
Try this: Trace your tongue along the outer part of your partner’s lips before going in for a slow, deep kiss. Gentle sucking or nibbling on lips is a winning move too — try it out on their bottom lip. Want more tips? Check out our kissing guide.
The neck: Get at those good kind of chills
We sometimes talk about the hairs on the back of our neck standing up, and there’s a reason for that. It’s a highly sensitive region. A 2018 study found it to be a pleasure-provoking part across genders but a bit more arousing in people who identified as women.
Try this: Get cozy with your partner by wrapping your arms around them and running your fingernails down the back of their neck. Head to the spot behind their ears before moving to the front and sides of their neck, where you can move into gentle kissing. Keep on kissing farther south to get them even hotter and twice as bothered.
You thought we were gonna let our sexperts get away before giving us pointers on getting started? Pshhh.
First, here’s some general guidance from Phillips:
- Do a body scan. This just means touching yourself from head to toe to see what feels good to you. Knowing your favorite zones isn’t just handy (heh heh) for you — it can also help you communicate your preferences to a partner in the future.
- Hit the toy store. “I’m always a fan of toys — I think toys are great,” Phillips says. “I think now there’s so many toys out there to choose from.” He says this is a groundbreaking time for the toy industry and for people who want pleasure: “Now we’re really starting to see toys made for folks that don’t really have to bring gender into it. There are toys that can be for all kinds of genders, for all kinds of people.”
- Don’t underestimate outercourse. Phillips says he talks a lot about outercouse in sex therapy. “I don’t call it foreplay because when you say foreplay, that means you’re really gonna go into intercourse, and some people don’t want to go into intercourse — so we call it outercourse.” Exploring all the pleasure points on your outer bits can lead you to uncharted territory (like, in a very good way).
- Eyes don’t have to stay on the prize. Phillips explains that sex is too often framed as a goal-oriented act, with an orgasm being the grand finale. This narrows our focus to emphasize genital pleasure with the goal of getting off, which can stunt our exploration sessions and inhibit our experience.
Phillips says he always recommends solo sex, aka masturbation.
“I think it’s very important — especially if you’re someone who hasn’t had a lot of sexual experiences — to really explore your body and to find the areas that are very sensitive to touch and that can bring sexual pleasure to you in a way of eroticism,” he explains.
Flowers agrees that masurbation can help you get to know your sexual likes, desires, and needs. She says masturbation is also a great way to feel confident in your own body, lower stress levels, and even reduce period cramps (!!!).
Tips for upping your solo-play game
Flowers says that because you’re the only one you need to worry about during masturbation, you can (and should) absolutely take the time to focus on yourself and find what makes you feel comfortable.
“If you’re a beginner or just want to start slow, creating an environment that makes you feel relaxed and sexy is a great first step,” she says. “You might light a candle, turn on your favorite music, or wear something that makes you feel hot (or nothing at all!) — just to set the mood.”
And once you’ve done a little exploring, don’t be afraid to keep experimenting. “If you’re looking to move beyond using your hands, think about whether you’d like to try out sex toys,” she says. “There are a whole bunch of options. Some vibrate, some work as sleeves with suction for penises or clitorises, and others go inside a vagina, anus, or mouth.”
Party of two (or more)
If there are two or more of you, it’s best to have a chat before getting freaky.
Phillips recommends intimacy check-ins with your partner(s) — chats about what’s turning you on, what’s turning you off, etc.
We have two sexual systems in our bodies: a sexual excitation system (our accelerators, or the things that really turn us on) and a sexual inhibition system (the things that give us certain fears or limitations).
“The most important part is communication,” Ryland says. “Talk to your partner about the kinds of touch they prefer. Different erogenous zones need different kinds of touch, some firm and some light.”
Phillips says that’s why solo play can be so important: to help give us a strong sense of what we’re into — and not into — before diving in with a partner.
“Words are great,” Phillips says. “I think if you’re engaging in any kink or BDSM play, you definitely want to have a really great conversation before you do any type of scene, whether that is any type of spanking, any type of roleplay, or any [other play].”
Here are Phillips’ key factors for sexual communication (some things you may want to bring up):
- things about sex that make me feel excited (Chains and whips, anyone?)
- things about sex that make me feel anxious (What’s your “oh, hell, no” scenario?)
- parts of my body that I like to have touched (Touch me here, please.)
- parts of my body that are off-limits (Never touch me here, babe.)
- words that I like my body and genitals to be called (What do you want your parts to be called? What do you not want your parts called?)
Relationships and eroticism
Phillips says his mantra is “It’s all about creativity and curiosity.”
He says he works with a lot of couples who have been together for years whose sex has become mechanical.
“There’s two parts of a relationship: companionship and eroticism. Eroticism is what keeps the relationship alive. So you really want to keep focusing on that.”
Exploring the zones on our list can help with that.
Even though the zones we covered are the “chosen ones” for pleasure, relaxation, or eroticism, every single body is different. So while some of us may love an armpit grazing moment, others may thrash around in tickle-pain.
Getting to know which erogenous zones you like, which ones you love, and which you can’t stand makes getting erotic with yourself or a sexual partner more easy-breezy — but more importantly, it also makes for a really good time.
The list above describes some of the most common erogenous zones, but it is by no means exhaustive. The best way to find out what you and your partner like? Communicate, experiment, communicate some more, and repeat.