When you and your partner are in the mood without much time to spare, you probably sprint through your go-to foreplay moves—a little kissing here, some stroking there—and then you're on to the main event.
Nothing wrong with that. But there's a case to be made for building pleasure much more slowly. Putting your desire on slow boil gives you time to explore lesser-known erogenous zones and play with different kinds of stimulation, discovering new ways to fire yourselves up and prime you for orgasm.
There's a trick we learned when it comes to finding these hidden erogenous zones: Focus on body areas that are the most ticklish, certified sex educator Alicia Sinclair, CEO of b-Vibe, Le Wand & The Cowgirl, tells Health. “These areas are already highly sensitive and respond quite powerfully to touch, so this is typically a good rule of thumb when seeking out areas that will also lead to arousal.”
To help you get started, we've called out six erogenous zones you and your partner should be paying more attention to. Set aside some time, lock the bedroom door, and let epic pleasure build.
For an erogenous zone that gets lots of exposure, the front and back of the neck are incredibly sensitive. The right stroke and pressure here can make you feel tingly all over.
“The neck has a lot of nerve endings and the skin is exceptionally thin, which means that you only need the lightest of touches to set off strong sensations throughout the body,” Sinclair says. It’s also a very vulnerable place—how often do you let someone come close to you neck? "Which means that you don’t need a lot of force to make a difference,” she explains.
Try gently brushing your partner’s hair back and softly stroking your fingers across the nape, or you can lightly kiss the area or even blow on it. “You’ll set off everything from shivers down their spine to a strong sense of arousal that will help get things going,” she says. Be careful with teeth; too much biting or pressure can pinch a nerve or pull a muscle, she warns.
There’s a reason a head massage feels so damn good. “This area has a whole host of nerve endings, and stimulating them can actually help you relax and release tension—a nice benefit, considering that often one of the biggest hurdles to arousal is often that initial ability to relax,” says Sinclair.
Try gently circling your partner’s scalp with your fingers, increasing the intensity as they become more accustomed to the feeling. You can also practice some gentle hair tugging for a similar effect, but remember to keep your fingers close to the scalp when you lightly tug, she says.
“Ears are extremely sensitive and when touched can result in different forms of arousal,” Sinclair says. Give one or both a quick lick or nibble, or even a more forceful nip, and watch your partner go crazy.
“Various studies even link ears directly to orgasms, but whether or not you believe how closely the two are tied, there’s little question that the nerve endings and general tenderness of the ear can result in some pretty powerful sensations if touched properly,” she says.
The lobe is generally the most rewarding area, says Sinclair, so starting off there is generally a safe bet. And, if your partner has any ear piercings, ease into it touching or using your tongue near them. “Interestingly enough, it’s also been found that because piercings affect your nerve endings, those with piercings will actually be more sensitive to touch,” she says.
Back of the knees
This isn't typically an area you’d think of as sexy, but the back of the knee is sensitive for the same reasons that the nape of the neck is—extra thin skin and lots of nerve endings.
“Touching your partner here can ignite strong sensations that run throughout the body, especially if you’re using this move to start off foreplay slowly,” she says. “Try gently stroking, kissing or even softly massaging the spot behind the knee." Kick things up a notch by experimenting with temperature play. “If it’s a hot day, grab an ice cube and gently stroke it along the back of the knee to ignite a whole new range of reactions,” Sinclair suggests.
If you’ve ever looked at the underside of your wrists, you can easily see how thin the skin is. That makes this area a powerful place for stimulation because it requires so little to do so much.
“Not only is this area extremely sensitive to gentle touch (think of it as the best location to test out something like a feather tickler), but it’s also a very intimate space on your body that probably isn’t used to being caressed, and that adds a whole other sensational dimension,” she says.
“Try gently taking your partner's wrists into your hands and kissing the undersides softly. They'll get a physical rush as well as feel like royalty." Or hold their arms over their head by the wrists, so you're play-pinning them down. That slight hint of force can be crazy arousing.
Ever heard of a coregasm—a spontaneous orgasm that occurs during a core-body workout? This is actually a real thing, and it makes sense. “Not only can flexing the muscles in the region actually cause an orgasm, but the stomach is very responsive to touch in general,” Sinclair says.
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And because the abdomen is so close to your private parts, it takes just a little brushing or caressing to ignite desire. “Whether with your fingers or your tongue, start up high, make your way slowly down—lingering on the belly button, an extra powerful area—and head down towards the belt line,” she suggests.
The further you make your way down towards the genitals, the more powerful the sensations will be, she says. While your partner watches your fingers or mouth continue to head south, their anticipation will rise—especially the closer you get to their thighs, where more pleasure awaits.