When someone says “erogenous zones” to you (and we’re hoping in the right context, not while you’re shopping for eggs), which places do you tend to think of?
Chances are, it’s your between-me-down-theres first, then nipples, or anus, or that one particular spot that your partner found behind your knee once and you’ve been trying to rediscover ever since.
But the truth is, we’re covered in erogenous zones - sensitive areas of the body that can make us feel aroused, or even bring us to orgasm - and finding out which ones work for you can be a whole lot of fun. Not to mention a great way to spend a rainy Sunday.
To discover some of our favourites, and find out how to stimulate them for mind-blowing masturbation, sex and foreplay fun, just keep reading.
What is an erogenous zone?
Derived from the words ‘eros’ (meaning ‘love’) and ‘-genous’ (or ‘producing’), erogenous zones are any area of the body that, when touched in a certain way, produce a sexual response. That can be anything from a nice tingle in your nether regions to a full-blown orgasm.
There’s no set list of erogenous zones as everyone’s bodies are different and react in different ways, but there are some areas that lots of people have reported to enjoy having touched, either by themselves, or by a partner.
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Erogenous zones on all bodies
Although you can’t touch or stroke the brain (we’d hope), it’s vital when it comes to stimulating any of the other erogenous zones because it controls our sexual responses (along with everything else the body does).
An erogenous zone isn’t going to send sexual signals to the body every time it’s touched, or we’d all be getting turned on whenever we brush our hair or do the dishes. It’s about getting yourself or your partner into a relaxed, sexy mindset that allows us to explore and enjoy our bodies to their full potential - and that’s why you need to make sure your brain is stimulated, as well as your body.
To stimulate the brain, try: Reading or listening to an erotic story to help set the mood for your exploration.
There are tons of nerve endings in our scalp, and anyone who enjoys having their head massaged when they go to the salon will know how enjoyable those nerve endings can be.
To stimulate the scalp, try: Running your hands through your or your partner’s hair. If they have no hair or short hair, you can lightly trace your nails across the skin for an added frisson. If they have long hair, try gently grasping it at the roots with your fingers against their scalp, and giving it a firm tug (but not too hard - just enough to make their head move slightly).
The ears have a double benefit when it comes to amping up your turn-on. First, they’re close to those sensitive nerves in the scalp and neck, so you can enjoy those lovely shivery chills when they’re touched; and secondly, they provide your brain with audio stimulation. Sounds can play a big role in boosting our arousal, from sexy music, to the sounds our partners make when they’re enjoying themselves, to dirty talk, and so much more.
To stimulate the ears, try: Putting your lips close to your partner’s ear and whispering what you’re going to do to them; or find a sensual ASMR video to help heighten your physical responses.
There are many reasons that we enjoy kissing, but the sensitivity of our lips is a big part of that. They’re packed with blood vessels and nerve endings that are capable of really turning us on when they’re stimulated in just the right way.
To stimulate the lips, try: Kissing your partner slowly and sensually, then gently use your teeth to nibble their lower lip.
Throat, neck, and collarbone
There's a reason many of us are ticklish on the backs of our necks - yep, you guessed it, it's because there are lots of nerves around our necks and throats, which makes us super sensitive there. But done in the right way, even the most ticklish person can find pleasure in neck kisses and caresses.
To stimulate, try: Using your tongue and lips to work your way down from behind your partner’s ears, across their throat, and along their collarbone. If you’re solo, you can lightly trace your way down using your fingertips.
The back is where a lot of us carry our stress and tension. Finding ways to release the tension that we hold in the muscles of our backs feels amazing, and can be a great starter to a sexy evening in. The lower back often feels extra-enjoyable to stroke because it’s so close to our pelvis and is an area that isn’t often touched directly in any other way.
To stimulate the back, try: Working a scented massage oil into your partner’s skin with your hands, alternating between firm kneading and soft stroking with your fingertips.
OK, we all knew this one was coming. Nipples are incredibly responsive and one of the most nerve-packed areas of the body, due to their primary evolutionary function, but did you know it's estimated that around 1% of people can actually experience an orgasm from nipple play alone?
To stimulate the nipples, try: Applying a thin layer of lube to the rims of a pair of nipple suckers, squeezing the bulb, and placing them over your or your partner's nipples to create a soft sucking sensation that increases sensitivity to every touch (and even breath!).
Inner arms, armpits, and wrists
You've probably noticed that the inside of our arms are much more sensitive than the outsides. Luckily, with the right touch, that can be a very good thing.
To stimulate, try: Running a pinwheel lightly down the outside of your or your partner’s arm from the shoulder to the fingertips, then back up the inside of their arm. Pinwheels may look scary, but they're actually very gentle!
Hands and fingertips
Our hands are used for so much and are such a huge part of our sense of touch that it stands to reason they need to be able to feel many different sensations (and in fact, our fingertips are the most sensitive parts of our entire body). But although your hands can be used to pleasure practically every other part of the body, they also deserve a little love themselves!
To stimulate hands and fingertips, try: A hand massage. Use your thumbs and a scented hand cream or moisturizer to knead the fleshier parts of your other hand, or your partner's hand; stroke along the fingers and pull them softly; and rotate each finger slowly.
Being right above our genitals, the belly button (and surrounding lower abdomen) is a great place to tease yourself or your partner before your hands start moving downwards.
To stimulate the belly button, try: Drizzling a little honey or flavoured lube down from the belly button to just above their underwear line, and then licking it all off slowly.
Also known as the taint or gooch, the perineum is the part of your body between your vagina and anus, or testicles and anus. Because of the area it's in and its proximity to two big nerves (the deep and the superficial perieneal nerves), it's in prime position to offer some deep-seated pleasure.
To stimulate the perineum, try: Using one hand to stimulate your partner's genitals, and the palm of the other to press and rock against the perineum.
Everyone's got one, and they're all packed with the potential for some serious pleasure. There are tons of nerve endings around the butt which, when awoken, can enhance all kinds of play, from masturbation, to penetrative sex, to massage, and so much more.
To stimulate the anus, try: Applying some anal lubricant to your finger, and gently massaging the outside of either your or your partner's anus. If you or they feel ready, you can try slowly penetrating - but take it slow, listen, and only go as deep as feels comfortable.
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Just like the insides of your arms, the soft skin on the inside of your thighs is extra-receptive to touch. Paying attention to them can be great for building anticipation for what's to come!
To stimulate the inner thighs, try: Kissing your way up the insides of your partner's legs, stopping just below their genitals, and using a mixture of tongue, lips, fingers, and breath to tease their inner thighs.
Back of the knees and ankles
Though the backs of the knees might seem like a strange place to consider an erogenous zone, many people have found that areas where blood vessels are closest to the skin (like the back of the knees) are extra responsive to touch. Hey, we're game!
To stimulate, try: Brushing the back of your partner's legs lightly with a feather tickler, using a mixture of long, slow strokes and swirls.
Feet have a lot more to offer in the pleasure stakes than many people realize - and certain schools of thinking believe that certain areas of the feet correspond to other areas of the body, meaning that by showing them a little attention, you could be lighting up lots of different places at once!
To stimulate the feet, try: A foot rub. Grasp your partner's foot (or your own!) and use your thumbs to apply rolling pressure across the parts of the bottom of the foot that meet the floor. For the arches, use a lighter touch - but keep it slow if that foot's ticklish!
Erogenous zones on people with penises
Penis, foreskin, and frenulum
While 'penis' is used to refer to the whole of the male appendage from base to tip, there are a couple of particularly fun areas that you could try focusing on.
The foreskin (on uncircumcised penises) refers to the double layer of tissue that can be rolled over the head of the penis, and it contains special nerve endings called Meissner's corpuscles, which offer fine-touch sensitivity that makes it Sensation Central.
The frenulum is the thin strip of tissue that connects the foreskin to the head of the penis, and guess what? It's full of nerve endings, too. Just make sure you treat this area with extra care - it can sometimes be damaged if you or your partner get too vigorous!
To stimulate, try: Lightly flicking your tongue across the frenulum during oral sex, or using a well-lubed thumb for long, sweeping strokes during hand jobs and masturbation.
Scrotum and testicles
We all know that the testicles are designed to be hyper-reactive to touch in order to protect themselves, but there are lots of ways that you can stimulate your or your partner's balls without causing any discomfort or harm!
To stimulate, try: Cupping the balls in your palm, with your fingers extended upwards. Gently (and we mean gently!) pull them downwards to create a pleasurable tugging sensation in the scrotum.
Although it's most easily accessed through the anus, the prostate gland (or P-spot, or male G-spot) actually forms part of the male reproductive system and sits around the urethra. It's responsible for creating a lot of the fluid that makes up semen. Because it's a bit part of the male sexual response - you guessed it - it offers an extra depth of pleasure to play when stimulated, and can even trigger an orgasm without any extra stimulation to the penis.
To stimulate the prostate, try: Inserting one or two well-lubed fingers into the anus, and pressing your fingertips towards the side where the penis is. A couple of inches in, you should feel a firmer bulbed area that's textured differently from the rest (a bit like a walnut). Once you've found it, flex your fingertips forward and massage it in a 'come-hither' motion.
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Erogenous zones on people with vaginas
If you're ever in any doubt about the clitoris being the key to sexual pleasure for people with vulvas, then here's a factoid for you: the glans (or head) of the penis contains around 4,000 nerve endings - the clit contains double that!
When lots of people refer to the clitoris, they think of it as being the firm 'nub' above the opening of the urethra - and it's perhaps true that this is the most obvious part. But the clitoris, like an iceberg, has a lot more going on beneath the surface and actually extends beneath the labia beneath most of the vulva. This means it's possible to stimulate the clitoris indirectly through the labia, which is great if you or your partner find it a little too sensitive.
To stimulate the clitoris, try: Using your fingers, tongue, or a bullet vibrator, create circles around the head of the clit (the hard part that you can feel), then stroke down and back up each side of the labia. You can then find a whole range of new stimulation possibilities!
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