You're in the zone
Written by Lucy Sharp
Illustration by Chloe Turner
Let’s start with an anecdote, shall we? Picture this: you’re young, cradling the space between childhood and your teenage years. In the playground, perhaps. A school friend runs on over, settles their fingertips in a ball across your undressed knees and tenderly splays them open. “That,” they tell you, “is 1/8th of an orgasm.” They apply that same logic for a sneeze. Whether true or false (definitely false), the merit in the message remains: touch, in all the right places, can satisfy and please.
The term “erogenous zone,” shouldn’t be too unfamiliar, either. By virtue of pop culture, self-exploration or an internet deep dive, you might be aware that certain areas of the body are notorious for inducing arousal. With subtle pressures – whispering, tickling, touching – an otherwise mundane body part (see, behind the knees) becomes a vehicle for unadulterated enjoyment. These “zones” defined as, “sensitive areas on the body that cause sexual arousal” are plentiful and glorious, but, of course, you need to know where to look.
Where are the zones?
When I say “2, 4, 6, 4, 2, 2, 4, 7, 5, 7, 6, 7, 7, 7” – does that ring a bell? If so, you’re in good company. If not, I refer your attention to this famous Friends scene, where Monica politely instructs Chandler where to touch a woman. Not that erogenous zones are gender-specific, nor universal – personal preference will dictate what areas of the body are particularly sensitive, and amenable to enjoyment.
Generally, the most common erogenous zones are the genitals (who woulda guessed?), neck, nipples, ears and lips. Each area has high concentrations and clusters of glorious nerve endings, making them especially sensitive to touch. Stimulating these areas can result in increased sexual satisfaction, and, are deserving of attention.
Think spine-shivering whispers, little nibbles on the lobe: the unassuming ear is a repository of hundreds of sensory receptors.
Though typically thought of like a target – the areas surrounding the lips are particularly sensitive and can stimulate sexual arousal. A fluttering of neurotransmitters, our lips are actually our most exposed erogenous zone. Our hot tip? Kissing someone around the edges of their lips.
Navel and lower stomach
Temptingly close to the genitals, stimulating the navel and lower stomach is a great way to tease your partner. It is even an easy to reach spot if you are playing alone.
Behind the knees
We get it, this one might feel a little weird. But behind the knees is an area ripe for arousal and desperate for touch! Particularly sensitive to tickling, touching or sucking, try this in conjunction with kisses along the inner thigh.
And, for my personal favourite –
The brain, which enjoys the recesses of physical affection much like other areas of the body.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. Determining what does and what doesn’t work for you can be a long and exciting journey. At XES, we’re committed to facilitating our own sexual pleasure: In particular, identifying erogenous zones can be extremely helpful for people with disabilities. Climax may be harder to reach, and certain positions may be implausible. For instance, a study has shown that women suffering from spinal cord injury can get immensely aroused by neck invigoration. This supports the idea that, able-bodied or not, prolonged stimulation can be advantageous to reach effective and enjoyable orgasm.
Further, “body mapping,” a technique in which people gently touch all areas of the body to identify sensual pleasure, discomfort or sensory change, is a method particularly helpful for people who experience decreased sexual sensation (such as multiple sclerosis). We encourage collaborating with your partner to test out the waters of untapped erogenous zones – or, of course, playing on your own. Try using sex toys such as vibrating massagers for increased sensation and pleasure. In any case, there are no hard and fast rules that must be abided by for sexual pleasure: it’s an inherently individual, custom-built experience.
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