You know that feeling when someone kisses your neck and your whole body involuntarily shakes? Or when someone strokes your forearm and you get chills? Or what about when someone whispers in your ear and it feels literally orgasmic?
Yup, these areas are called erogenous zones. They're areas of the body that have heightened sensitivity to touch and generate a sexual response, says Michelle Murray, a professional counselor with Calmerry. And considering how amazing these places feel when stimulated, it's obviously important to learn everything about them.
After all, the more places that provide pleasure = the more pleasure you can receive = the more overall happiness you will have.
What is an erogenous zone?
An erogenous zone expands far beyond the genitals. Sure, stimulating places like the nipples and clitoris will feel good, but the areas of the body that get you turned on the most are actually far away from your nether regions.
Because as it turns out, any part of the body can be an erogenous zone. What feels good now (or made you feel good in high school) might not be your forever favorite spot. "As your body changes and you have different experiences, you may discover new erogenous zones," says OBGYN Constants Adams, MD.
The brain maps out your erogenous zones and organizes them as areas associated with pleasure, which means as you change, so does your brain's pleasure map. Dr. Adams suggests continued exploration—even after you've found some feel-good areas, since you might uncover new pleasure spots you never knew existed or just became a thing.
How many erogenous zones do people with vaginas have?
Contrary to what Monica Geller said, there aren't just seven erogenous zones. In fact, the limit doesn't actually exist. According to Michelle, there are 31 basic identifiable erogenous zones for people with vulvas, but everyone doesn't share the same zones. Since touch is a very personal experience, what works for you might not work for your partner and vice versa.
A few of the most popular ones include the mouth/lips, nape of the neck, breast/nipples, the clitoris (both the small tip on the outside and the entire, extended area internally), the mons pubis, and even the cervix, explains sex therapist and founder of Modern Intimacy, Kate Balestrieri.
How many erogenous zones do people with penises have?
While Michelle notes there are 25 basic identifiable erogenous zones for people with penises, the same rule applies here: There's no actual limit to the number of areas on the body that can feel good to touch. Kate says areas like the head of the penis, the foreskin (if it's intact), the frenulum (the skin on the underside of the penis where the head meets the shaft), the testicles, and the prostate are a few of the most common feel-good areas in addition to the mouth, the neck, and the nipples.
That said, everyone is different, and with consent, having a night of mapping out your partner's zones (or doing the activity solo) is a sensual way to uncover new sensitive areas. Plus, chances are you'll learn something new and walk away feeling all kinds of good.
Which is the most erogenous part of the body?
Given that not all bodies are the same, there is no one set erogenous zone map for everyone, explains Dr. Adams. Sorry, but this isn't a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. What works for person A might not work for person B, which is why communication is vital.
Regardless, many people have some of the same erogenous zones, which means you should have a good idea of where to start. Kate notes some of the most common erogenous zones for people of all genders include:
- Outer ears (lobes and behind) and perimeter of the ear canal
- Inside of the wrist
- Back, sides, or front of the neck
- Lower back
- Inner thighs (ranging from the genital region to mid-thigh)
- Abdomen and belly button
- Behind the knee
- Inner arm
- Fingers (usually the underside/softer side)
- Nipples and areola
- Toes and the underside of feet
- Underside of buttocks (where the cheek meets the thigh)
- Anus (and the tissue surrounding)
While those are some of the common areas, preferences for erogenous play may differ from day to day, mood to mood, or even partner to partner. "While there may be some familiar spots as you read this list, there may be parts of your body that feel erotic to the touch that aren't included and some listed that do nothing for you when stimulated," says Kate. Don't shame yourself or someone else if you're not into something or no longer enjoy what you liked yesterday—that's what makes erogenous zones so exciting!
What you can do to erogenous zones?
Once you've found a hot spot on yourself or your partner, the next step is to stimulate it. Michelle notes there are a few basic things you can do. You can use your fingers to touch, massage, or stroke the area. You can use your mouth to suck, lick, kiss, bite, or blow on the spot. Or you can use a toy or genitals to stimulate the zone. Play around with different sensations, pressures, toys, and temperatures—all while continuously checking in—to see what feels good.
"Your brain and skin are partners who work together to provide the most important part of erogenous zones: sensation," explains Dr. Adams. "Given that the skin covers our erogenous zones, anything that manipulates sensations of the skin can provide pleasure." In addition to (safely and consensually) experimenting with things like ice and heat, consider other tactile additions like leather whips, feather dusters, or silk fabrics to tantalize the areas.
What is the importance of knowing your erogenous zones?
By now you're probably eager to grab a bucket of ice and that old feather boa and get to exploring. But if not, all the experts highly encourage embarking on an epic erogenous zone exploitation mission.
"Knowing your erogenous zones is like having a secret treasure map, one that only you know how to use," says Dr. Adams. "Knowing your 'map' (and updating it as needed) can allow you to guide your partner to those pleasurable zones."
Having the knowledge of the erogenous zones—both on yourself, on your partner, and on people in general—can lead to a heightened level of sexual arousal, pleasure, and connection.
"Trust your own erotic truth, and let it be your guide to authentic pleasure," suggests Kate. Who knows, you might just discover that you orgasm in .03 seconds whenever your scalp is massaged. Goals, amirite?
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.
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