Everyone's body is different, which means that when it comes to what arouses us during sex, it can vary a lot from person to person. While there are some parts of the body that are pretty much universally regarded as "sexy" — like breasts, butts, and genitals — there are also plenty of unexpected erogenous zones that deserve way more credit than they get. But what exactly qualifies something as an erogenous zone?
"Erogenous zones are areas on the body with heightened sensitivity, most prone to generating sexual arousal," Kristin Casey, author and intimacy coach, tells Bustle. "One of the best ways to discover and explore erogenous zones is through body mapping (also called arousal mapping). It's done by taking turns with your partner (so that one person is actively touching the other, who remains passive until it's their turn) to stimulate their body from head to toe, in a way that's mindful, deliberate, and comprehensive."
If you want to figure out what parts of your body are the most erogenous for you, the best way is through trial and error. Here are seven unexpected erogenous zones that you'll want to start paying way more attention to during sex, according to experts.
1. Your Scalp
You might not think of your scalp as a particularly sexy area of your body, but incorporating a scalp massage into the early stages of foreplay can actually be super relaxing — and get you prepped for arousal.
"Anyone who has ever received a head massage can tell you how pleasurable they can be," Caleb Backe, Health and Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. "The scalp is covered in nerve endings making it one of the most sensitive parts of the body. Targeting this erogenous zone is a great way get things going with your significant other as it increases blood flow and releases serotonin and dopamine."
2. Your Ears
There's a reason that whispering some sexy dirty talk into your partner's ear can be so arousing: the ears are actually a very erogenous part of our bodies.
"The ear, especially the earlobe, is often ignored, and yet it might just be one of the most erogenous parts of the body," Backe says. "Between whispering sweet nothings, light biting, and even sensual licking, the ears are perfect for mixing things up and adding a new dimension to your erotic stimulation."
3. Your Stomach
One area you shouldn't be neglecting during sex? The stomach — because according to Backe, it's actually an extremely sensitive erogenous zone.
"Although the belly is loaded with nerve endings, the abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles are connected, which can lead to high levels of pleasure," Backe says. "This means that stimulating the abs can increase arousal and ultimately produce a strong climax."
4. Your Armpits
You might not necessarily want to have a tickle fight in bed, but incorporating light kissing or touching near the armpits can be surprisingly sexy.
"Armpits can be super sexy places to tease your lover," intimacy expert Miyoko Rifkin tells Bustle. "Not only can you tickle them with your nose, lips or tongue, but you’re also immersed in the essence of your lover. Smelling the natural scent of your partner creates maps of pleasure in your brain. Engaging in play while you’re smelling them creates neural pathways of pleasure, which becomes an automatic response of pleasure and happiness when you merely catch a whiff of them."
5. Your Legs
If you want to give your partner some feel-good shivers during foreplay or sex, caressing their legs all over — not just on their inner thighs near the genitals — can work wonders.
"The insides of the thighs are a common erotic zone for both men and women, but what about lower down the leg toward the knees?" Rifkin asks. "Use your fingers or tongue to dance between the top of the inside of the thigh all the way down to the feet and see if your lover finds even more delight somewhere further down the leg."
6. Your Neck And Shoulders
Giving each other massages is a great way to build physical intimacy with your partner — and a good neck/shoulder rub also works well as foreplay, too.
"While the feet, head and earlobes are probably the best way to arouse pleasure in your partner via a massage (preferably with oiled hands), the neck and shoulders can help them relax and unwind — an important step in the process towards a more intimate and passionate sexual experience," Backe says.
7. Your Brain
The biggest erogenous zone of all? The brain — because after all, that's where arousal actually takes place.
"I think it’s important to remember that having an intimate connection with your partner often starts well before you reach the bedroom, and ultimately the greatest erogenous zone is our brain," Backe says. "So remember to treat your partner as they wish to be treated and talk to them in a kind and intimate way — sometimes, the idea of sex is as empowering or effective in the build up to sex, than foreplay or should rather be considered an extension of the foreplay itself. This applies to any sex or gender, as our minds are ultimately where the orgasm resonates."
Ultimately, there are endless ways to experience arousal — so one of the best ways to know for sure what zones have the most pleasure potential for you is to get to know your body through masturbation and partnered sex. So what are you waiting for? Start exploring!