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Apr 21, 2021
4 min read

Erogenous zones for women and men

There’s more to sex than just the obvious! Intimacy, eye contact, sexual pleasure, and knowing your partner’s erogenous zones are keys to a healthy sex life. Erogenous zones, like the nape of the neck, are extra sensitive areas that can take your sex to the next level.

Disclaimer

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

When it comes to sex, most of us know about the obvious pleasure zones for men and women. These are the areas you learn about in sex-ed or in the puberty book your mom gave you in middle school. But there are actually many other body parts involved in sex and foreplay outside of those few key spots. 

Ever have that oh-so-delicious tingly feeling when your partner nibbles your earlobes? That happens because the ear is what’s called an erogenous zone. If you’re looking for more ways to spice things up in the bedroom, there may be some untapped hot spots that you have been missing.

Erogenous zones

Any part of the body can be an erogenous zone. Erogenous comes from the Greek words “eros” (love) and “genous” (producing). 

An erogenous zone is any body area with a heightened sensitivity that can produce sexual arousal when stimulated. One theory behind these sensitive areas is that they have nerve-endings and receptors that are more attuned to light touch or gentle tickling (Turnbull, 2014). 

Given the interpersonal interactions of sexual activity, it’s not surprising that you may find that looking at or touching your partner’s erogenous zones may be as much of a turn-on as being touched yourself (Maister, 2020). Also, some erogenous zones react more to a tickle or light touch, whereas others are more sensitive to vibration or pressure (Cordeau, 2014).

These hot spots vary by person—what may feel amazing for one person may be unpleasant for another. Talk with your partner about their sensitive areas and associated sexual responses (and yours!)—you may learn something new about each other.

Erogenous zones map

Now that you know what an erogenous zone is, you may be wondering where you can find them. These sensitive areas can be divided into genital vs. extragenital erogenous zones. While erogenous zones can differ from person to person, these are the most common erogenous zones in men and women: 

Female erogenous zones

The main genital erogenous zones for women are the G-spot and the vulva, which includes the clitoris, vaginal opening, and outer and inner vaginal “lips” or labia (Younis, 2016). Stimulation of these areas by masturbation, a partner’s touch, sex toys, or other means often leads to sexual arousal, which involves increased blood flow and nerve sensitivity.

Extragenital erogenous zones are parts of the body that elicit a sexual response, even though they may be far from the genital area. During sexual activity, these sensitive areas may take up over a quarter of your body’s skin surface (Nummenmaa, 2016). Some couples will use these zones as part of foreplay, but stimulating these body parts may also lead to orgasm (Younis, 2016). Some common extragenital female erogenous zones include (Younis, 2016):

  • Breasts/nipples
  • Mouth/Lips
  • Nape or back of the neck
  • Buttocks
  • Inner thigh
  • Lower abdomen/pubic area
  • Wrist
  • Scalp 
  • Behind the knees
  • Perineum (the space between the anus and vagina)
  • Lower back

Male erogenous zones

Erogenous zones are not just for women. The main genital erogenous zones for men include the penis, especially the glans (head of the penis) and frenulum (band of skin that attaches the foreskin to the shaft of the penis), and scrotum. Stimulation of these areas often leads to orgasms. However, outside of the genital erogenous zones, men share many of the same erogenous zones as women (Turnbull, 2014). 

Believe it or not, men can enjoy stimulation that doesn’t focus just on the penis. Some common extragenital male erogenous zones include (Turnbull, 2014):

  • Mouth/Lips
  • Inner thigh
  • Nape or back of the neck
  • Nipples
  • Perineum (the area between the anus and scrotum)
  • Lower abdomen/pubic area
  • Ears
  • Buttocks
  • Scalp
  • Stomach
  • Lower back 

Another extragenital erogenous zone leading to intense orgasms for men is the prostate gland (Levin, 2018).

Experimenting with different erogenous zones can make your sex life more pleasurable and exciting for you and your partner. Try using a vibrator, an ice cube, or some sensual massage to add spice and variety to your sex life. Some of these areas of the body may seem a little strange or adventurous, but you’ll never know if you like them until you try! 

References

  1. Cordeau, D., Bélanger, M., Beaulieu-Prévost, D., & Courtois, F. (2014). The assessment of sensory detection thresholds on the perineum and breast compared with control body sites. The journal of sexual medicine, 11(7), 1741–1748. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12547. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24805931/
  2. Levin R. J. (2018). Prostate-induced orgasms: A concise review illustrated with a highly relevant case study. Clinical anatomy, 31(1), 81–85. doi: 10.1002/ca.23006. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29265651/
  3. Maister, L., Fotopoulou, A., Turnbull, O., & Tsakiris, M. (2020). The erogenous mirror: intersubjective and multisensory maps of sexual arousal in men and women. Archives of sexual behavior, 49(8), 2919–2933. doi: 10.1007/s10508-020-01756-1. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32533518/
  4. Nummenmaa, L., Suvilehto, J. T., Glerean, E., Santtila, P., & Hietanen, J. K. (2016). Topography of human erogenous zones. Archives of sexual behavior, 45(5), 1207–1216. doi: 10.1007/s10508-016-0745-z. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27091187/
  5. Turnbull, O.H., Lovett, V.E., Chaldecott, J., Lucas, M.D. (2014). Reports of intimate touch: erogenous zones and somatosensory cortical organization. Cortex, 53:146-154. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2013.07.010. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23993282/
  6. Younis, I., Fattah, M., Maamoun, M. (2016). Female hot spots: extragenital erogenous zones. Human Andrology, 6(1): 20-26. doi: 10.1097/01.XHA.0000481142.54302.08. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301664162_Female_hot_spots_extragenital_erogenous_zones