Erogenous Zones

The word erogenous comes from the Greek word “eros” which means love. Erogenous zones are highly sensitive body surfaces (other than genitalia) that result in erotic feelings and increase arousal when they are touched.1 The most common erogenous zones include the breasts (including the nipple and areola), the clitoris, the anus, the g-spot, and the penis.1 Other less obvious erogenous zones include a person’s lips, neck, scalp, ears, thighs (specifically inner thighs), collarbones, abdomen and feet. These parts of the body are erogenous zones because they contain a large amount of sensitive nerve endings within a small area meaning that they can be stimulated by touch, pressure, or vibration.2 The levels of sensitivity and pleasure one feels when one is touched in these erogenous zones varies by individual. What may feel arousing for one person may not be for another. We encourage you to try different sensations on yourself, and your partner(s), to discover what feels right. If you’re exploring with someone else, always make sure to communicate with your partner(s) during the process and listen carefully to their feedback to see what feels pleasurable for each person involved.

     

How to Find Erogenous Zones

Touching is a powerful way to elicit sexual arousal. Both affectionate caresses from one’s partner(s) and self-stimulation of the genitals are amazing methods that trigger arousal responses. Although human sexual arousal may be triggered by visual and auditory cues, they are also driven by tactile stimulation of the genitals and various other areas of the body.3 There are many exciting ways to explore the physical sensations produced by erogenous zones, such as: manual stimulation with one’s fingers, oral stimulation with one’s tongue, or even with objects such as sex toys or feathers. One way to discover particular erogenous zones is through a technique commonly used for sexual therapy, known as sensate focus. Sensate focus is a great way to learn about one another’s bodies, while simultaneously improving communication skills and reducing sexual problems such as performance anxiety. This technique involves both partners sitting in a comfortable position with one partner’s back against the other’s chest (i.e., one partner has their legs around the other). The partner in the front focuses on their breathing and relaxing while the person behind explores their partner’s body, finding areas that are arousing. The partners then switch and take turns exploring each other’s bodies, without pressure or stress. Another helpful technique to try with one’s partner(s) is a sensual massage. This relaxing, hands-on activity focuses on massaging the other person’s erogenous zones with the goal of intimate pleasure.

     

Additionally, one may explore their body alone by masturbating in front of a mirror to discover erogenous zones privately. This technique is known as body mapping. Keep in mind that there are areas of the body other than the genitals which can elicit sexual responses, so one may wish to spend time discovering what causes personal arousal. As a recommendation, make sure to set aside plenty of time when exploring erogenous zones. Turn off any phones to eliminate distractions and select a location with privacy, where disturbances are minimal, so that you may explore without any anxieties.

Understanding one’s erogenous zones is an integral part of healthy sexual communication between partners. Being able to talk about and explore one another’s erogenous zones may promote a stronger sexual connection. It is important for individuals who have experienced any decreased sexual sensitivity due to illnesses, disability, injury, or other circumstances, to be able to discover other ways to be sexually satisfied. This may help to put both the mind and body at ease, which will decrease the stress and anxiety that are present in these types of situations. It is important for partners to discuss their circumstances involving disability and sexuality to find out what’s best for them. The brain connects physical touch with mental stimulation, so one’s mindset in sexual situations plays a major part in the ability to become aroused. Several factors are crucial to having a pleasurable sexual encounter: the partners' states of mind, their emotional connection to each other, and the physical touch they exchange.1 Understanding and patiently exploring individual erogenous zones with a trusted partner will play a key role in any successful sexual experience.

 

Differences in Erogenous Zones

The erotic sensitivity of each body part depends largely on the amount of nerve endings located in that region. The genital regions of both males and females undergo a process known as vasocongestion, which increases the amount of blood that flows to these regions making them highly sensitive when aroused. Other areas such as the eyelids, forearm, head, and abdomen have fewer nerve endings but may also be potential erogenous zones for some, especially if those zones are touched lightly and softly during foreplay. When compared to self-stimulation, being touched by one’s partner also heightens levels of sexual arousal and increases the number of sensitive regions of the body. Additionally, the sensation of touch promotes pair bonding because intimate physical contact may help to reinforce one’s relationship to their partner(s).3

Popular Female Erogenous Zones

Erogenous zones may be genital or extra genital. Females have a greater variety of erogenous zones on the body when compared to males.4 A recent study conducted in Canada on female erogenous zones measured sensitivity to light touch, pressure, and vibration.3 The study concluded that the clitoris and nipples are the most erotically sensitive zones. The clitoris and nipples are particularly sensitive to vibration, while the neck and vaginal areas are sensitive to light touch.2 On the contrary, another study, conducted in Egypt, showed that extra genital erogenous zones were found in 95.3% of women. In descending order, the most powerful erogenous zones were breasts, lips, neck, ears, and buttocks. The best method for stimulation differed according to the area – for example, the best method for the lips was oral stimulation, whereas the best method for the breasts and nipples included both manual and oral stimulation. Orgasm due to the stimulation of extra genital areas was reported by 12% of participants.4 Furthermore, a highly sensitive erogenous zone for females is the G-spot. The G-spot is located two to three inches up the front wall of the vagina (the wall below the urethra).5 This can be stimulated more easily during masturbation via a “come here” motion when squatting or lying on one’s back. An erogenous zone shared by both sexes is the perineum; the small region of skin located between the testicles and anus for men, and between the vaginal opening (introitus) and anus for women. Additionally, men appear to have the same distribution of erogenous zones found in women, but for women, several body parts are rated at significantly higher levels of intensity. This effect may be related to higher reports of sensitivity to touch by women in other domains.6

Popular Male Erogenous Zones

Some of the more popular erogenous zones on the male body include the penis, the mouth and lips, the scrotum, the neck, the nipples, the perineum, and the ears.2 Once again, erogenous zones can be genital and non-genital. This list is general, and there are indeed many other erogenous zones one can explore when delving deeper into male pleasure. For example, the more highly sensitive erogenous zones include the frenulum, glans, and raphe. The frenulum is a small elastic band of tissue on the underside of the penis, located where the head of the penis meets the shaft. The glans, or head, is the cone-shaped structure at the tip of the penis that is connected to the shaft. It may or may not be covered by foreskin in some cases and has 4,000 nerve endings which are responsible for its intense sensitivity. Due to their heightened sensitivity, both the frenulum and the glans are believed to be the primary triggers of sexual climax when stimulated. The other particularly sensitive area is known as the raphe of the scrotum, or the ridge of tissue that extends from the perineum to the midline of the scrotum.7 Males also have an erogenous zone inside of the rectum at the base of the bladder, near the root of the penis. The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland that contributes about 30% of the fluids in a male’s ejaculate. Prostate stimulation, or “milking,” may lead to a unique type of orgasm. However, the route necessary to reach the prostate is the anus, and for this reason, many people associate prostate stimulation with homosexuality. Nonetheless, individuals of any sexual orientation can enjoy prostate stimulation and should feel free to do so. In order to stimulate the prostate manually, one may insert a well-lubricated finger into the anus and use a “come here” motion to gently rub against the prostate. Vibrators and other sex toys can be used to stimulate the prostate as well. Use caution whenever stimulating the prostate from within the anus by moving slowly, using plenty of lubricant, trimming one’s nails, and using appropriate sex toys with a flared base.

Concluding Remarks

Overall, erogenous zones are sensitive regions of the body that can produce remarkably pleasurable sensations when touched, which may contribute to stronger orgasms and increase the level of intimacy and closeness between partners. More broadly, knowing and learning about one’s own body is key to a healthy and fulfilling sex life. The stimulation of erogenous zones is vital for sexual satisfaction as it increases sexual arousal and promotes sexual compatibility with one’s partner.3 It is important to remember that not all people have the same erogenous zones. What works for one partner might not work for another, so exploring your own body’s erogenous zones can help you to tell your partner about what is pleasurable for you. It is essential to be mindful of others’ preferences and have open and honest communication with your partner(s). Also, it is essential to discuss boundaries when exploring one another’s bodies. Consent is key and should always be considered so that both partners feel comfortable with one another. If this sparked your interest and if you would like to find out more information and techniques on how to stimulate your body, please check out our article on manual stimulation.

 

References

  1. Evans, Samantha. “The Lesser Known Erogenous Zones - and How to Find Them.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 26 Mar. 2018.
  2. Shoemaker, Emily. “Everything You Want to Know About Male and Female Erogenous Zones.” Daytondailynews, Staff Writer, 9 Sept. 2016.
  3. Nummenmaa, Lauri, et al. “Topography of Human Erogenous Zones.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 45, no. 5, 2016, pp. 1207–1216.
  4. Younis, Ihab, et al. “Female Hot Spots.” Human Andrology, vol. 6, no. 1, Mar. 2016, pp. 20–26.
  5. Whipple, B. 2014. Ejaculation, female. The International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality. 1–4.
  6. Turnbull, Oliver H., et al. “Reports of Intimate Touch: Erogenous Zones and Somatosensory Cortical Organization.” Cortex, vol. 53, Apr. 2014, pp. 146–154.
  7. Borreli, Lizette. "The Most Sensual Female Body Parts, According to Science." Medical Daily. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.

Last Updated: 2 May 2019.

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