How Many Erogenous Zones Are There on the Female Body? Here's What Experts Say
The answer might surprise you.
There are so many different ways to make sex more connective and pleasurable, and that includes by giving lots of attention to each of your body's different erogenous zones. The topic of erogenous zones itself was actually given attention on primetime TV this week, as The Bachelorette fans probably know.
On Monday night's episode, the contestants were asked a series of sex-related questions as part of a playful competition to find "The Greatest Lover of All Time." The men were asked what a woman's largest sex organ is (the brain was the official answer, though other experts say the skin), and what article of clothing increases a woman's chance of having an orgasm (socks, strangely enough). But the question about the number of erogenous zones on the female body was met with many blank stares.
The show wound up not revealing the answer. But in the pursuit of sexual health and pleasure, we reached out to experts to find out.
First, what are erogenous zones?
When the contestants were asked about the number of female erogenous zones, one of the men replied, "What does 'erogenous' mean?" That's a good place to start. 'Erogenous' means something is especially sensitive to sexual stimulation. So an erogenous zone is any area of the body that, when touched in a certain way, triggers sexual arousal. Think: your nipples, lips, and inner thighs.
What makes some body areas erogenous?
The skin on or around many erogenous zones is thinner than on the rest of your body, and it also contains a higher concentration of nerve endings, Sherry A. Ross, MD, ob-gyn and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women's Health. Period, previously told Health.
It's no coincidence that skin and erogenous zones are linked. Skin is the largest sexual organ, sexologist Bianca I. Laureano, PhD, founder of the Women of Color Sexual Health Network, tells Health. Once you understand this, "we begin to take notice of how those parts of our bodies with more skin or different types of skin offer a variety of sensations," she says.
Your brain plays a role too when it comes to why certain touches or certain body areas lead to sexual arousal. If a previous partner focused their attention on a particular spot and it felt amazing, your mind holds on to the memory, and it'll likely feel really good with another partner as well, Dr. Ross says.
How many erogenous zones does the female body have?
When the question was asked on The Bachelorette, many viewers took to Twitter to point out that Monica Geller on Friends already gave that answer a couple decades ago: seven.
Turns out, Monica was wrong. The body isn't limited to just seven erogenous zones-the entire body can be an erogenous zone. "We need to move away from the idea that our genitals or specific parts of our bodies are only areas we may feel sensations that are pleasurable and understand that our entire bodies offer these experiences," Laureano says.
Research suggests that the entire body can be sensitive to sexual stimulation/touch, Jill McDevitt, PhD, resident sexologist at online sex toy emporium CalExotics, tells Health. But just because the entire body can be an erogenous zone doesn't mean the entire body is an erogenous zone for every individual.
The parts of a body that can be sexually stimulated and lead to arousal varies greatly from woman to woman-and that's because everyone has different experiences with pleasure, harm, or trauma, according to Laureano. "Due to these very human experiences, we have a range of experiences that bring us pleasure, so being open to getting to know our own bodies as we need and also to get to know our partners' bodies as well [is important]," she says.
It's also true that erogenous zones might also shift as we age; a specific body area that led to arousal when you were younger might not do much for you at another point in life, while you might discover a new erogenous reason. Laureano explains these shifts as "very common and expected."
So the answer to the "How many erogenous zones are there on a female body?" It's actually a trick question. "It's really a matter of the person," McDevitt says. "It could be one, it could be 100-plus. Lots of people are aroused by touch to their genitals, lips, and nipples, but some are not. And some will get aroused when you touch their eyebrow or between their toes, and other often forgotten body parts."
Here's an example of just how many erogenous zones there can be: When McDevitt was surveying people about their top three favorite erogenous zones for her book Sex Positions for Every Body, respondents named five areas of the ear and four or five regions of the foot as erogenous zones.
So while it's virtually impossible to know the exact number of erogenous zones the female body has, there are common "hot spots"-certain areas of the body that tend to be considered erogenous to more people than other areas. "These spots are the genitals, breasts, nipples, lips, neck and nape of neck, ears, buttocks, inner thigh, and anus," McDevitt says.
And no, it doesn't mean there's something wrong with you if your body doesn't respond a certain way to these specific areas, sexuality educator Yvonne K. Fulbright, PhD, tells Health. "This simply isn't a hot spot for them, but there are plenty of other spots to be explored/discovered," Fulbright says. "They may also find that there are points in their lives when they feel more of a reaction than others, [like] with the breasts/nipples given [the] time of the month, or if she's pregnant. So don't be afraid to revisit potential hot spots."
And don't just focus on what you've been told should be the hot spots. "Every area of the body is worth exploring and in different ways," Fulbright says. "It's also important to realize that there are times that an area may be more easily stimulated or more easily yield results, [like] when a person is a tad fatigued, hence, relaxed, making them more receptive to touch and embracing sensations instead of resisting them."
And yes, it's the same for men: There's an unlimited number of erogenous zones on the male body, according to Laureano. "Similar to bodies of women, all bodies have erogenous zones that are expansive and ever changing," she says. "I think it's important to note that not all bodies are the same, so exploration and communication is important in understanding what is erogenous for our partners and lovers."