When you start fooling around it can be tempting to jump right to the good stuff—to stick your hands down your partner’s pants or your own and rub until things get hard and wet and really fun.
There’s nothing wrong with this approach and it certainly gets the job done, but there are so many other parts of your body—called erogenous zones—that often respond in jolts of arousal to things like a light tickle, a gentle lick or a partner’s warm breath.
There’s no real “map” of erogenous zones for women because what may have one woman moaning with joy could leave another feeling mildly irritated or down right turned off.
Interestingly, when researchers tried to draw a map of erogenous zones by asking people to color in places on a picture where they like to be touched or thought a partner would like to be touched, they found that the whole body has arousal potential.
Finding your erogenous zones is a matter of exploration (alone or with a partner) and incorporating these places into your sex life is all about experimentation.
But here are a few good places to start.
There are some erogenous zones that are pretty unsurprising because we already associate them with sex.
Like the lips, for instance. Kissing is a big part of sex for most couples and that makes sense. Lips are very delicate and touching two sets of them together can cause instant sparks.
So, keep kissing. Vary the intensity — from lightly brushing the lips to giving them a little nibble. Ask your partner to use their lips to explore some of your other hot spots or use yours to explore theirs.
Breasts also instantly come to mind. Nipples are very sensitive and often get hard to the touch. For some women, the nipple responds to being rubbed, flicked or sucked almost like a mini-clitoris.
But don’t ignore the rest of the breast. Gently stroking the side of the breast may make you shudder, and you might also want to ask your partner to cup your whole breast in their hand or even give it a not-so-subtle squeeze.
The inner thighs are a very sexy spot if for no other reason than their proximity to the star player.
Many women respond to soft touches or warm breath on their inner thigh with pleasure and anticipation. This same logic works for the lower abdomen, or the area under the belly button before you cross the underwear line.
There are body parts that scream sex and others that hint at it with a romantic whisper.
Speaking of whispers, there’s a reason that having someone whisper sweet nothings in your ear can send chills down your spine and it’s not necessarily what they are saying.
Hot breath, a soft lick, or even some downright sucking on the earlobe works wonders for some women. Of course, there is a fine line between loving licks and wet willies, so definitely warn your partner when they’re getting close to it.
Necks are also sexy—why else would teenagers bother with hickeys (which are decidedly not sexy) and vampires stare longingly before they bite? Finding just the right place to caress can be a matter of trial and error, but start with the curve where the neck and shoulder meet and move toward the back of the neck under the hair.
Another often-neglected area that can give you the tingle—the scalp. Ask your partner to run their hands through your hair or lightly massage your temples. Even giving your hair a very gentle tug can feel really good (emphasis on gentle, no one should go bald doing this).
If you want to go beyond the usual suspects, however, start by thinking of spots where you are ticklish—behind the knees, the sides of your torso, the inside of your wrists or even your armpits.
These spots respond so strongly to touch because they have lots of nerve endings, and don’t get touched all that much. If approached correctly—with a light stroke but not so light it makes you giggle—you can get the good type of chills.
And the armpit has the benefit of giving off some sexy scents that your partner may love.
The bottoms of the feet also make this list because the area is so sensitive and has a ton of pressure points. A tender foot massage is exactly what some women need to relax and start letting sensations flow.
Touch the toes too—licking or sucking on toes can send shockwaves throughout the body. Ask your partner to take your whole toe in their mouth. Or try it with a finger. The feeling of being totally surrounded by warmth and wetness has a lot in common with a blow job and many women love it.
Of course, no one is suggesting that you ignore the genitals entirely but even as you inch ever closer to the clitoris there are other places to explore.
The mons pubis—or pubic mound—the extra fleshy part above your labia where pubic hair grows, can be very sensitive, especially for those who have had a Brazilian. Ask your partner to massage the soft skin just a little bit.
Work your way down (but skip the clitoris because we’re saving her for last) and touch the perineum—that area between your vagina and your anus. It’s a little taboo and very delicate, and the response can be intense.
And, then there’s the anus itself. This doesn’t have to be about butt play and there need not be penetration by fingers or anything else, but lightly rubbing the area around the anus can be a real turn on for many women (and men!).
The first thing to do is to find the ones that work best for you. Spend a little me-time tracing your fingers down the side of your body, over your earlobe, across your breasts and between your legs. See if anything surprises you.
Then get your partner involved. Tell them what you’ve learned from your own exploration and set them loose to look around on their own (with parameters, if there are places you’re not ready to try).
You can decide to dedicate one night to creating your own personal atlas of erogenous zones or just try to incorporate some new body parts into what you already had planned each time.
Your partner can touch, rub, lick or suck. They can go hard and soft and super soft. Sit back, relax, and tell them what it feels like—you can do that in the classic nonverbal ways like moaning, sucking in your breath and arching toward them, but don’t be shy about just saying exactly what you feel out loud.
Anything from, “slow down” to, “a little harder” to, “that feels amazing” to, “oh my god, never touch me there again” is fair game.
Remember that this map-quest is part of sex. Then, once you find something you like, you can build on it.
If your scalp is your new favorite place, make a date for the shower where your partner can wash and brush your hair. If you’ve discovered a crazy connection between your toes and your clitoris, add “toe jobs” to your regular repertoire.
But don’t forget to keep looking for even more places that feel fantastic. It’s a near-endless cycle of discovery, and that’s what makes it so fun.