While the most obvious erogenous zones tend to be the ones that come into play with p-in-v sex (like the clitoris, vulva, and G-spot), the term can encompass really any part of the body that when stimulated, can create a sexually arousing response. “Different types of bodies can have dozens of erogenous zones—with some regions being more common than others,” sexologist and founder of GoLove CBD lubricant Sadie Allison, PhD, previously told Well+Good.
Knowing all those potential zones, including the not-so-common ones, can make it easier to incorporate that much more pleasurable sensation into any sex act. In fact, sexologist Megan Stubbs, EdD, specifically recommends exploring beyond those body parts most often involved in outerplay and penetration.
"It’s all about touching areas that don't frequently get as much love as the more popularized erogenous zones,” Dr. Stubbs says. “When we start to receive stimulation in areas that are not often touched, those sensations can feel heightened and can create a more exciting awareness.” To that end, read on for a run-down of 13 potential erogenous zones in folks with vulvas, and get ready to turn any sexual encounter into a full-body experience.
13 common and lesser-known erogenous zones in people with vulvas, and how to stimulate them, according to sex experts
Erogenous zones in and around the genital area
For starters, you probably know that the vagina is a wellspring of sexual pleasure. To be specific, it’s packed with its own set of pleasure zones, from the cervix to the G-spot and even the A-spot. And just outside of the vagina, in the vulva, is perhaps the most famous erogenous zone of them all, the clitoris, which is the spot where vulva-owners can most readily orgasm. So, for the purposes of this article, we’ll skip those well-known sex regions and move onto the others you’ll find in the vicinity.
Colloquially, these are the vagina’s “lips,” including both an outer set and an inner one. While the former is typically referred to as the labia majora, and the latter as the labia minora, it’s worth noting that the outer set isn’t always larger than the inner one, according to sexologist Jess O’Reilly, PhD, host of the Sex With Dr. Jess podcast. “The lips run vertically along both sides of the vulva, from the pubic bone down to the perineum, and they’re composed of both erectile tissue and sensitive nerve endings,” she says. As a result, they’re a pleasure hotspot. “To stimulate them, touch gently with fingertips, kiss, cup, stroke with an open palm, or roll a vibe across them,” says Dr. O’Reilly.
That rounded spot where the inner and outer lips meet is actually an erogenous zone all its own. “When you rub or grind against this area, it can pull on the hood of the clitoris to stimulate the shaft on the inside,” says Dr. O’Reilly. While you can certainly use a flat vibrator (like the Romp Wave) on this area, Dr. O’Reilly also suggests just crossing your legs and grinding against any surface—your hand, the bed, or a partner’s pubic bone—to spark a similar feeling.
Trace the labia downward until you find the spot where they meet, and that’s the fourchette, French for “fork”—as in, a fork in the road. “We often refer to this spot as the lower clitoris, though it’s not officially a part of the clitoris,” says Dr. O’Reilly. But that association with what’s essentially orgasm central should clue you into the fourchette’s own appeal. It can be intensely responsive to both light touch (say, the flick of a tongue) and firm pressure (like with the tip of a suction vibrator), she says.
It’s true, the back door has its fair share of nerve endings, not unlike the front. And that makes it an erogenous zone worth exploring by way of fingering or rimming (which is essentially anal oral). Another option? A butt plug, which can provide a feeling of pleasurable fullness when inserted, or even stimulate the internal legs of the clitoris from behind.
If we stick with the front-door/back-door metaphor, the perineum would be a hallway in between them (just below the fourchette). “This sensitive pathway can be stimulated with light and deep pressure depending on where you are in the arousal cycle,” says Dr. O’Reilly, who suggests starting with light sweeping motions to awaken the nerve endings and increasing pressure as arousal builds. “You can also use a flat toy to press against the entire perineum, or sit on the toy for deeper vibes,” she says.
Erogenous zones in the rest of the body, from the top down
“Think about when you're getting your hair washed and how good that feels,” says Dr. Stubbs. Essentially, that same feeling can extend to a partner who’s hair or head you caress. “There are so many nerve endings in the skin on the head, so try giving it a scratch or a massage,” she suggests. “A slow, dry massage on the couch can be just the thing to relax yourself or your partner after a long day, while a sudsy wash massage in the shower can heat things up.”
Neck and ears
If a light touch on the back of the neck or the ear has sent shivers down your spine, you know how sensitive these regions can be to any sensation. In fact, in a 2013 study analyzing erogenous zones in about 800 people, the nape and back of the neck and the ears were all ranked as highly erotic among folks of both sexes. “Plant soft kisses here when you're out in public to build anticipation and give your partner a taste of what’s to come,” says Dr. O’Reilly. “Or, suck passionately just before they climax to heighten the erotic association.”
Think back to the “bases” of sex acts, and you might remember kissing was considered first base. As it turns out, there’s a good reason it often precedes sex the first time—namely that it’s arousing in its own right. The lips are packed with nerve endings that can be activated by the brush of a finger as much as they can by another set of lips. But in the case of kissing, you get the extra benefit of close exposure to your partner’s pheromones by way of their breath…which, “when mixed [with your own], can make a really intoxicating, unique cocktail,” kissing expert Andréa Demirjian previously told Well+Good.
Breasts and nipples
While they’re commonly linked to sex acts, breasts and nipples are often treated as mere rest stops on the way to the final sex destination—but in actuality, they’re such potent erogenous zones, they can bring on their own kind of orgasm.
Yep, that’s right, breast orgasms are a thing. In fact, a small 2011 study even found that stimulating the breasts activates the genital sensory cortex (aka the crotch of the brain), or the same spot of the brain associated with clitoral and vaginal stimulation. More good news? Both the breasts and nipples can be stimulated in a whole host of different ways, using a palm, fingertip, tongue, or even just an exhale of warm air.
It’s easy to forget the hands as their own erogenous zone because they tend to get so busy doing the touching of other zones during sex. But according to Dr. O’Reilly, they’re full of untapped erogenous potential. “Consider giving your partner’s hand (or your own) a sensual massage using your thumb to work in sweeping ovals,” she says. “You can also trace your fingertips around the palm with a feather-light touch, or play with their fingers in your hand with a gentle stroking and circular motion.”
The inner wrist is another untapped hotbed of sensation. Look at yours right now—chances are you can see your circulatory system at work through the skin. “That thin skin is ripe for kissing and licking,” says Dr. Stubbs. "It's an uncommon erogenous zone, but won't be after you try it. You can, of course, lick yourself, but this one tends to work better if done to others.”
Be warned: This is an erogenous zone that can be just as pleasurable for some as it is ticklish for others. In general, it includes the low back, sides, and stomach region—a large swath of skin real estate that, when stimulated, can give you the chills or even goosebumps (in a good way, that is). “Using a light touch, like with the tips of your fingers or even a tickler made of feathers, is a great way to activate this skin,” says Dr. Stubbs. “Long strokes can create a sensation that will run up and down the body,” she says.
Feet and toes
Not to entirely squash the rhetoric on foot fetishes, but they’re likely a bit overhyped in pop culture. In actuality, feet don’t always rank highly in terms of erogenous zones, says Dr. O’Reilly. (In the above study from 2013, they fell near the bottom of the list of body parts, just above the calves, chin, and knee cap.) “But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the stimulation, of course, as every body is different,” says Dr. O’Reilly. “Consider warming up the feet and building up to erotic pleasure with a sensual foot rub using a massage oil with a scent you find arousing.”
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