Breaking down what partners often overlook.
Of all the lessons that Friends bestowed its faithful watchers, its most helpful was perhaps the one delivered by Monica to Chandler, as she walked him through a very handy chart. The female body, she said has seven different erogenous zones, and it’s a big mistake to think you can just jump all the way from one or two straight to the last. Some variety and surprises go a long way into making for one satisfying seven.
While the show never revealed what exactly Monica’s seven zones are, you can make some educated guesses or assumptions based on your own experience. After all, personal preference does play a role—and one 2016 study found that the entire body had erogenous potential (good news for anyone whose love language is physical touch). Still, there are frequent commonalities that are worth exploring.
One 2014 study (unsurprisingly) found that the clitoris and the nipples are the most sensitive to both pressure and vibration. The areas researchers found to be most sensitive to “light touch,” however, were the neck, forearm, and vaginal margin (the area just at the end of the vaginal opening and at the beginning of the perineum). Take these findings into consideration, and you’ll have a better understanding of not only where to touch, but how to do so.
A study published in June 2020 uses heat maps to show where men and women consider their erogenous zones, based on how aroused they make them through appearance alone and through touch alone, as well as how this arousal changes whether they’re engaging in solo play or with a partner. Women consistently ranked the genital area, breasts, butt, and inner thighs high for touch, though the shoulders, hips, and the back of the neck were also shown consideration.
This study also examined what women consider to be men’s erogenous zones, and vice versa—and while most findings line up, it does show there are some potential missed opportunities for stimulation. Areas like the neck, inner thighs, and upper back, for instance, are likely to be overlooked by men, even though women in the study ranked these spots as erogenous, if slightly lower on the scale than the breasts, genitals, and butt. Sometimes, it’s the little things that can make a real difference.
Still, there are even more erogenous zones that can be considered. According to a paper published in 2012, other areas include the mouth (of course), ears, lower back, head and hair, and even—for some people behind the knee. And like Rachel Green may have let slip about herself in that iconic Friends scene, the toes also have some erogenous potential, too. Lesson learned.