Erogenous Zones – an erotic network to explore with an open mind
Do you have a certain area that, when touched, sends shivers down your spine or makes you feel like fireworks are going off in your head? Have you ever thought more about that spot than, ‘wow, that feels good’? If you’ve felt any of these things, then congratulations—You, or your partner(s), have discovered an erogenous zone. These sensitive areas of your body are a perfect way to heighten desire during foreplay. There are three types of erogenous zones.
(1) Primary zones – The most well-known zones include areas of the body that contain dense concentrations of nerve endings. These zones are pretty obvious—for both sexes, they generally include the genitals, buttocks, anus, perineum, breasts (particularly the nipples), inner surfaces of the thighs, armpits, navel, neck, ears (especially the lobes), and the mouth (lips, tongue, and the entire oral cavity). In females, the primary erogenous zones are the clitoris and the vagina. The clitoris is stimulated when caressed or touched with circular movements. The vagina is stimulated when the G-spot—a sensitive area of the anterior wall of the vagina—is stimulated through a muscular contraction on penetration. Primary erogenous zones in males are located on the penis. Arousal may be achieved through rubbing movements during masturbation or penetration.
It’s important to remember, that just because a given area qualifies as a primary erogenous zone, doesn’t guarantee that stimulating it will produce arousal in a sexual partner. What’s intensely arousing for one person may produce no reaction – or even irritation – in another. Primary zones are a great place to start when you want to take advantage of the heightened response and arousal of erogenous zones. Don’t limit yourself to just these options though—Explore the secondary and potential zones too.
(2) Secondary zones – These are areas of the body that have become erotically sensitive through learning and experience. The secondary zones heighten arousal of the primary zones but aren’t necessarily needed to reach orgasm. When touching secondary zones, it’s really a matter of personal preference on what makes your body tingle and crave more. Exploring less known (or used) erogenous zones such as the secondary zones or potential zones is a great way to practice communication with your partner(s) as well. Tell them what you like and don’t like. They won’t know unless you tell them!
(3) Potential zones – The goal of the potential erogenous zones is to find areas of the body that, when touched, trigger a series of exciting sensations. You know the kind – they’re usually described as shivers or lightning traveling up and down your body. Potential zones vary from individual to individual and they differ in intensity and location. There’s a strong erotic dimension that comes with exploring all parts of your partner’s body looking for potential erogenous zones. Have fun with it!
Are everyone’s erogenous zones the same?
In theory, erogenous zones are similar from one person to the next, but people usually have preferences. Just because one partner liked their stomach rubbed or inner thighs tickled, don’t assume your current partner or partners feel the same way about those spots. Experiment by kissing and touching during foreplay. Communication with your partner(s) is important. By experimenting and finding the most sensitive zones, all involved will enjoy a heightened sexual experience. Sometimes, just knowing your partner(s) is enjoying themselves helps arousal and enjoyment.
How do they develop?
Some erogenous zones are natural, while others are acquired. This doesn’t mean if you touch your partner(s) a certain way enough, that they’ll suddenly learn to like it. Acquired erogenous zones begin in childhood. Some studies show that babies who receive more hugs and kisses may have more erogenous zones than babies who receive less affection. Erogenous zones can change and evolve throughout the lifespan as well.
Do they always give you pleasure?
The short answer–It depends on your sexual response cycle and state of relaxation during foreplay. We’ve all had those days where we’re completely stressed, anxious, and having trouble turning off our minds. Your body reacts to that by going on the defensive. Instead of giving pleasure, touching erogenous zones may cause an unpleasant or adverse reaction. It may feel like the touch makes your skin crawl instead of the optimal, pleasant ‘lightning’ reaction. On the other hand, if you’re relaxed and eager for your partner’s attention, touching your erogenous zones will give you heightened pleasure and excitement. If you’re having a stressed or anxious day, don’t feel like you need to fake it or give in. It’s best to wait to be in the right mindset so you and your partner(s) have the best experience possible.
Precautions to bear in mind
It’s no secret that erogenous zones are very sensitive before sex. But what about afterward? After orgasm, those same areas that gave you so much pleasure may give you pain when stroked, kissed, or licked. This is especially true for the head of the penis, clitoris, and nipples. It can be helpful for you and your partner(s) to both have a ‘recovery’ period where you come down from your amazing endorphin high before you start touching your hypersensitive erogenous zones again.
Enjoy exploring and discovering the erogenous zones with your partner(s). Remember the genitals are just the tip of the volcano, there’s a vast network of structures responsible for arousal and orgasm. Exploring is a great way to learn about each other’s likes, dislikes, and – in the process – become even closer than before. By taking the time to communicate with gestures and words in foreplay, you’re committing to building a stronger physical, emotional, and mental relationship—something you can enjoy long after sex.
Sexology International, like all of our work, is for people of all sexual preferences and all forms of gender expression, including people whose identity is something other than male or female. As such, we like to use gender-neutral pronouns. More recently accepted alternatives include words like “ze” and “hir” or the universal pronoun “they.” Throughout our work, we will be doing our best to use alternative pronouns, such as “they,” whenever gender or plurality is unimportant. In doing so we hope it helps everyone to feel included in the discussion and that it inspires you to think outside of traditional sex and gender binaries.