Erogenous zones are all the places on your body that can be stimulated in service of sexual arousal and pleasure. There are the obvious ones – like your nipples or your junk – but there are plenty of places left rarely explored by our tendency to find what works and stick with it. While sexual routines are usually started for all the right reasons (wanting sex to be consistently good, needing to keep things quick to adhere to demanding or incompatible schedules, not wanting to reintroduce the stress of new things), following the same path over and over can also mean missing out on some really fun and downright orgasmic sensations.
The important thing to know about erogenous zones is that while listicles like mine try to narrow them down into a tidy assembly of press the button, get a prize, it’s actually much more complicated than that. The neuroscience behind what we consider erogenous zones – and why they function as such – is always evolving. Feet, for example, have long been considered erogenous, but that’s now hotly contested.
In my own experience, people are varied and ever-changing in what parts of their body can create or sustain arousal. For years, my partner’s breasts were erogenous duds; as they aged and their sensitivity changed, suddenly nipple stimulation became the same brain-genital hot-wiring for them that mine are for me. Context is also important! Getting your neck sloppily licked in a crowded public place probably won’t result in a boner of any kind (unless you’re into it), but a gentle open-mouthed kiss to the nape of your neck? Mmm!
This list is of a few of the oft-cited erogenous zones, along with some recommendations of how to test waters both well-sailed and uncharted. These are suggestions; you know your body best, and can probably gleam relevant details or ideas and build off the rest.
I’ve split this list into two halves: your genitals, and then the rest of you. Just because the junk comes first in this piece doesn’t mean it should be your go-to for revving the engine – you’re a body absolutely teeming with nerves, not a car with a standard set of operations. You don’t always have to drive stick.
Part I: The Genitals
Let’s start off with the only body part used exclusively for pleasure: the clit! While most of us know licking (often at a temperate speed and with the flat of your tongue) and vibration (care to Tango, anyone?) on the exposed portion of the clit feel good, there’s so much more to it! (And so many more toys, too. Have you or your clit-having loved ones tried air pulsators yet?)
Depending on how prominent and malleable it is, the clitoral hood – that is, the clit equivalent to foreskin – can be incorporated into play. A light nibble, a quick caress on or under with the Zumio, a careful stroke with your fingetips…
The clitoris extends well beyond its external parts, too. The clitoral complex spreads beneath the vulva and straddles the vaginal canal. The inner workings of the clit can be stimulated by deep-reaching vibrations (such as from wands), gentle-but-firm vulva massages, and internal pressure like from g-spotting toys like the Njoy Pure Wand, Uberrime Splendid, or the Sola Cue. Dual stimulators like rabbits can help rub the clit inside and out, too.
Penis and Testicles
Another obvious addition: the penis! While most curious hands go straight for the shaft, most of the penis’s nerves are in the glans (head) and frenulum (the v beneath the head.) Like the clit, broad and steady licks are often the way to go, and a good vibrator (like the aforementioned Tango or Hot Octopus Jett) can up the ante. And if your penis is intact, foreskin is often as or more sensitive as a clit – and it can be treated well with eager lips, lube-slicked fingers, or stroking vibrators like the Fun Factory Manta. Pumps, strokers, and the occasional fluttering duck-billed vibrator can all provide unique pleasures.
Ball stretchers and cockrings with low-hanging vibrators can provide sack stimulation, but so can mouthing, licking, and palm kneading. The ‘seam’ between balls and the backside of the sack (where it meets the taint) are often the most sensitive places on someone’s scrotum. Behind the scrotum, the inguinal canals (shallow, finger-width channels from which the testicles descend) can be carefully fingered or fucked with some bullet vibes or soft and small dildos.
Vagina and Cervix
Although the clitoral complex is saddled around the vagina like a particularly devilish cowboy, the vagina itself has plenty of wonders. The g-spot (which many believe to be part of the clitoris, but we’ll treat as its own independent nerve cluster here for simplicity’s sake – please don’t @ me!) can be stroked with fingers and toys (like the Pure Wand, Splendid, or the Cue I mentioned earlier, as well as the Uberrime Amo.) The a-spot (or anterior fornix, which is located deep in the vagina on the top wall) requires longer toys made of softer materials like the Uberrime Night King to pet in just the right way. And while most people with vaginas aren’t hot for heavy cervix stim, some gentle rubbing near the anterior fornix and posterior fornix (between which the cervix is nestled) can be uniquely orgasmic for those into deep vaginal play.
Pubic Mound and Vulva
One of the fastest ways to get my partner from zero to howdy, partner is to grip and knead their pubic mound (mons pubis) or full palm grope their vulva. There’s a lot of promise in a genital handshake, and the implications alone – along with the pleasant warmth of one’s hand – can stir arousal. But stimulation can be subtler than a front split grope. A sensual rub from a broad vibrator like the Enby or We-Vibe Touch, pinch from a pair of repurposed nipple clamps, the drag of suction from a vulva pump… well, none of those examples are subtler than groping, but you get my point.
The pubic area around a penis can be gripped in much the same way. A two-finger stroke adjacent to the penis can stimulate arousal; fork your fingers to rub on either side of the penis’s base to make the same promises as gripping a vulva.
An oft-missed part of the vulva that ought to get more attention is the inner labia. Depending on their prominence, you can give them a nibble or a suck, or tickle them with fluttering vibrators like the Fun Factory Volta or a Noje Mini Wand with attachments.
Butt touching can be as tame as a glute massage and as focused as a thorough rimming. There are nerves all across (and within) the butt, and can be awoken with a simple stroke of your fingertips. A light spank (perhaps with a paddle?), a possessive grope, a flutter of adoring kisses…
If you’d like to try a little mouth-to-ass action but can’t get past the thought of cooties, pick up a dental dam and hold it taut (not stretched!) over your beau’s butthole as a barrier through which you can explore. Dams provide enough slack that you can tongue fuck to your heart’s content without ever actually making contact or tasting anything but vanilla, banana, or mint.
Butt plugs (including beginner friendly plugs like the smallest Snug Plug or toe-curling tech advancements like the Rimming Plug), beads, and dildos with flared bases (like the Temptasia Twist Kit or Uberrime Splendid Small), can all be used to stroke your depths, whether to stimulate your prostate or rub against the wall adjacent to the vagina.
The perineum (or taint as it’s more often called) is the stretch of skin between the genitals and the butthole. Most folks with penises have a prostate which can be stimulated through this fleshy area; but even if you don’t have one, there’s plenty of nerves to exploit. A firm knuckling, a persistent stroking with a strong wand vibrator, or use of butt plugs like the Nexus Excel or Aneros Helix Syn with additional taint-massaging arms, can really work one’s largely unappreciated perineum.
The Atom Plus cockring has dual motors to provide vibration both above and below the penis, including the perineum.
Part II: The Rest
Now that we’ve got the junk out of the way, let’s talk about some other common areas that can be used for arousal and pleasure. Depending on your own body’s sensitivities (and tolerances), there may be several of your own erogenous zones missing from this list. Never fear – you’re not weird! Nor are you weird if you see things on this list that don’t do it for you. We’re all different, and while maybe one day we’ll have concrete science mapping out universal zones (or permanently debunking the very concept), until then – and maybe even after – we’ll just trust ourselves to know what keeps the clock going ‘round.
Now, now, don’t make that face. Armpits can be incredibly sexy feeling! The skin tends to be soft and extremely sensitive – usually bordering or overtly ticklish – and thus is a prime target for some pleasurable touch. Stroking your fingers across the divot or reaching up to palm the curve or tuck your fingers under their arm can be a (consensually) unexpected gesture that goes straight down.
You don’t need breast tissue to enjoy the erogenous potential of your chest. For the flat-chested, a firm pectoral massage can peak interest (literally, when speaking of nipples), and for those with voluminous chests, gentle kneading is often key… but – as with any kind of sexual touch – preferences vary widely, and can change depending on how aroused someone is. (If you’re touching my breasts to turn me on, start gentle; if we’re deep into play, grabbing, twisting, or yanking are all fair game.)
It can be tempting to go right for the nipples – they are, after all, bundles of nerves – but the chest itself as a broad plain of possibility. Stroking, pumping, groping, dripping warm non-burning candlewax, sucking hickies…
As for nipples, Tawney Seren covered this topic exceptionally well for Peepshow Toys’ Youtube. (Are you subscribed? If not, you’re missing out on some really great content!)
Feet and Ankles
While neuropsychologists might be back and forth on this one, I’m not. Depending on the person and the type of sensation you’re delivering, the feet and ankles are rife with potential pleasure… and not all of it’s ticklish. Sure, you can teasingly run a tickler over someone’s arch, but you can also massage, press firm kisses, and slowly and sensuously pull on a pair of stockings.
If you or your partner(s) have a hard time associating feet with sex but want to give it a chance anyway, try holding your lover’s foot between your thighs under the table and petting the top of their foot and ankle. This quiet intimacy and close proximity to your junk can help ease you into footsie foreplay – whether that means you end up with a foot against your crotch, or appreciative toe curls while you massage away the day’s aches.
Hands, Fingers, and Wrists
I can’t name any off the top of my head, but I remember seeing several movies from the late 90’s and early 2000’s wherein a character sucked their lover’s finger to get them going. That’s never done much for me, but your mileage may vary; after all, fingers are incredibly sensitive in order to gather as much sensory information as possible, there’s a lot of pleasure potential in any part of the body that’s sensitive to touch. What I do know gets me going is vampire fiction wherein the vampire feeds from a character’s wrist – there’s something so thigh-clenchingly erotic about lips and teeth descending on your soft, vulnerable pulse…
But you don’t have to go full finger blowjob or wrist sucking to take advantage of these sensual spots. Light kisses on someone’s palm or fingertips, a slow lick from wrist to thumb, or even tracing your own thumb over someone’s wrist can produce good shivers.
I’m a proud member of the unofficial “over 30 and still giving hickeys like a teenager” club, and nobody can stop me! The neck can be an incredibly sensitive place (sometimes just wearing a collar is enough to get me in the mood), and allowing someone the intimacy of accessing such a vulnerable place is often electrically erotic. Biting, kissing, licking, nuzzling, petting – there are innumerable ways to wake up your skin and put a flutter in your pulse.
The nape of your neck (that is, the base of your skull) is another major erogenous zone, and often the place people report having the most sensitivity and erotic immediacy. While everyone is different, I have never played with someone with long hair who didn’t enjoy the hair at the nape of their neck carefully but firmly pulled.
Stomach and Thighs
Close to the genitals, soft to the touch, and littered with nerves, the stomach and thighs are an open expanse of touch-starved skin (unless you’re ticklish, anyway) that’s absolutely erogenously exploitable. Rubbing someone’s belly can be a soothing gesture; let those circles dip lower and lower and feel relaxed muscles start to tense in the best way. The navel is incredibly sensitive, and can be kissed or nipped to catch a lover’s attention or give them a brief preview of what’s to come. Tracing thighs with fingertips or a tickler can build anticipation; escalate to impact toys or bare-handed smacks and with a slightly masochistic lover, you’ll be getting toe curls in no time.