Spread the pleasure to every potential inch of your body's hot zones.

By Gigi Engle
January 27, 2020

No, the phrase isn't some sort of sexy marketing ploy: Erogenous zones are real. They're areas of the body that aren't necessarily o or always sexual by nature but, when stimulated, can cause sexual arousal or pleasure.

Interestingly enough, the reason why these hotspots exist isn't crystal clear. Studies have shown that nipple stimulation lights up the same area of the brain—called the genital-sensory-cortex, the "reward center"—that senses contact with the genitals. This could be what's happening in other erogenous zones as well, but we don't have much evidence beyond that.

What we do know is that the entire body and all of its nerve endings are connected through the spinal cord, and that gives you the potential to feel pleasure from being stimulated, well, anywhere. For example, if you derive sexual pleasure from having your feet massaged (or tend to have toe-curling orgasms), it's likely because your brain is lighting up the same genital-sensory-cortex portion of the brain. When this area lights up, it sends the message from the body to the brain that you're receiving sexual-ish pleasure, and then the brain sends a complimentary message back down to the genitals.

Take some time to explore different areas of your body (or your partner's) to see what you like (or don't). Exploring erogenous zones is a great way to change up your routine and add some novelty into your sexual play, which is key to maintaining sexual satisfaction with a partner over time. Additionally, exploring your body can help keep you mindful of all the multifaceted pleasure your body is able to experience. (Hello, mindful masturbation!) In short, erogenous zones expand your sexual horizons and can help you create a full-bodied sexual experience.

Here are seven of the most common female erogenous zones that you should definitely tune into—because life is too short to miss out on pleasure.

1. Genitals

For obvious reasons, the genitals are considered the primary erogenous zone. The clitoris, G-spot (the root of the clitoris), labia, and cervix are all considered hot spots in this one expansive zone. That said, the glans clitoris (the rosebud-like nubbin at the tip of the inner labia) is where most of the sensation happens, as it contains 8,000 of the clitoris' 15,000-some nerve endings, according to Sunny Rodgers, a clinical sexologist.

The genitals are such a deeply complex area of pleasure that it can take practice, exploration, and patience to figure out what works for you. Your go-to orgasm moves are awesome, but it can be fun to try something new. Have you explored your deep vaginal erogenous zones, like the A-spot or O-spot? How about G-spot stimulation? What about a blended orgasm wherein you or your partner stimulates the G-spot and clitoris at the same time? Grab a hand or some sex toys and get curious.

2. Anus

Your anal opening is super dense with nerve endings. This is why some people really enjoy having their anus played with or licked (rimming). "More and more people are opening up to the joys of anal play, but I'd say it's still a pretty overlooked spot," says sex therapist Vanessa Marin. "A great way to start is to have your partner apply a tiny bit of pressure to the outside of your anus with one lubed-up finger, as they're going down on you or fingering you." If you're interested in giving an anal toy a try, get yourself a simple butt plug and see you enjoy the sensation.

Remember that anal play may feel odd at first, if you're not used to it. Try to breathe into your body and relax. If you tighten your anal opening, you could find stimulation uncomfortable or even painful. Stimulating your clitoris during anal play can really help you relax (and engage all of these different nerve-endings). Take it slow and communicate with your partner. (Related: How to Prepare for Anal Sex for Beginners)

3. Nipples

As mentioned earlier, MRI scans have shown that nipple stimulation lights up the genital-sensory-cortex in the brain. The nipples are jam-packed with nerves, and how each person experiences pleasure through the nipples will vary. For instance, someone might love having the ridge under the nipple licked and touched, while another person might enjoy pinpointed (even a little painful) biting of the tip of the nipple. Have your partner suck on your nipples or try flicking their tongue over them.

If you want a little bit more sensation, you can try pinching your nipples or get yourself some nipple clamps (i.e. these from Babeland). Combining nipple play with clitoral stimulation or oral sex can heighten the erotic experience and even increase orgasm. (And, yes, you can even have an orgasm from nipple stimulation alone!) Another good tip is to be gentle with nipples at first because if you're not aroused sexually, being rough with them can be unpleasant).

4. Crook of the Arm

If you've ever had the crook of your arm touched (the inner portion where the humerus connects the radius/ulna) on the underside of the arm, where the skin is super soft and delicate, you'll likely know how sensitive this area can be.

"Areas of the body where the skin is thinnest seem to be places where sensitivity is heightened and can lead to arousal," says Rodgers. Try running your fingers along the inner arm from wrist to elbow and see if it feels good. If it tickles too much, you can also try massaging this area for a deeper feeling.

5. Earlobes

Like the crook of the arm, the ear lobe has thinner skin, meaning it is more sensitive to touch. Have your partner give you a little nibble on the earlobe and see if you enjoy it. Some people enjoy super hard biting on the ears and others prefer super gentle touch. Start gently and then work your way to more intense sensations. One theory could be that because the ears are so close to the neck, they can feel very similar when stimulated. Plus, they share a lot of interconnecting blood vessels and nerve pathways.

6. Back of the Neck

The back of the neck is a nerve-rich area that can feel super amazing when kissed or licked. "People pay a good amount of attention to the front and sides of the neck, but tend to forget about the back. Flip over onto your belly, pull your hair up, and ask your partner to kiss along your hairline," says Marin. (P.S. Here's how kinky sex can make you more mindful.)

7. Underside of the Butt

The area right under your butt cheeks can be a little-explored area of arousal. For most people, there's an overlap of the buttcheeks where the skin is kind of protected from pants or rubbing, so the skin there is a bit more sensitive to touch, much like the crook of the arm. "Have your partner trace one finger along the area where your thigh turns into your butt or try light kisses or licks," says Marin. (Related: 10 Foreplay Ideas That Are Even Hotter Than Penetration)

Even More Erogenous Zones to Discover

What's even wilder is that anywhere on the body can be an erogenous zone. "It's all about personal preference and play," says Brooke Sprowl, L.C.S.W., a licensed therapist. If you didn't see your favorite sexy spot listed, NBD. Some people may find that they derive pleasure from having their elbows licked or their noses kissed. The human body is varied and what people find sexy will change from person to person. Even the parts of the body we usually associate with sexuality (like the nipples or clitoris) may not work for everyone.

"Some people love having their most sensitive areas touched but sometimes those areas are so sensitive that even the lightest touch is unpleasant or overstimulating," adds Sprowl. When it comes to exploring all of these pleasure zones, it's all about the "potential" of pleasure, meaning it's something you may find erotic or pleasurable, but you might not. Take time to explore your body and your partner's body with an open mind. Who knows—you just might find another secret hotspot all your own.

Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, sexologist, author of All The F*cking Mistakes: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

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