Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.Full Bio
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When it comes to what happens between the sheets (or any place you have sex), you want to put your best foot forward, and, while you're at it, you want it to rock your world. But how realistic is it to expect to hit an out-of-the-ballpark home run each time?
Face it, sex can become humdrum and uncreative and may even come to a screeching halt. Here's a wake-up call: You have forgotten and neglected body parts lying in wait, ready to be noticed.
"Neglect is born out of lack of knowledge and awareness," says Sheryl Kingsberg, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and one of HealthyWomen's medical experts. "Women and men have a fairly narrow view of what parts of their body are tied to arousal and sensual pleasure," adds Kingsberg, who is also a professor in the Departments of Reproductive Biology and Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio.
Sometimes, it goes far beyond the obvious.
Like what? Where? How?
The journal Cortex has some clues for you and lends some insight into the nature of human erogenous zones via an anonymous online questionnaire they sent out to nearly 800 volunteers, who were mostly students recruited from England and South Africa. They rated each of 41 body parts for the "ability to facilitate sexual arousal" on a scale of 1 to 10.
The results were unsurprising and pretty much unanimous: everyone agreed that the top turn-on zones were the genitals. Gaining high marks after that were the mouth and lips, nipples, nape of the neck and thighs.
And what of the body zones that are least erogenous? People were pretty much in agreement about those, as well, giving low marks to the elbow, skin, kneecaps, nose and forehead. BORING.
In another study of the female body published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Canadian scientists using light touch, pressure and vibration tested 30 women between the ages of 18 and 35 (who laid under a bed sheet for the test, in case you're curious) to measure the sensitivity of various sexual areas on their bodies.
Their findings: when it comes to light touch, the neck, forearm and vaginal "margin" are the most sensitive. The clitoris and nipple were most sensitive to both pressure and vibration.
OK, all of this probably does not surprise you; after all, it's pretty much common knowledge. But what of those "hidden" zones, the ones that may be victims of "out of sight, out of mind?" You know, the oft-forgotten and neglected parts that silently scream, "Hey, what about me?"
"There are some non-genital areas on the body that are commonly experienced as erogenous, including the nape of neck, ears and small of back," says Kingsberg. She also advises you "should not stop there and ignore your own responses." Enjoy the experience if you discover you're aroused by a kiss on their nose, eyelid, toe, calf or elsewhere, she says.
Hence, other body parts that might be masking some erotic potential—some scientifically documented and others rumored to be a turn-on:
- Feet (arches and toes in particular, but that's up for debate and highly individual)
- Scalp (rich in nerve endings)
- Lips (they have more nerve endings than any other part of the body)
- Fingertips (another treasure trove of nerve endings, second to the mouth and genitals, some say)
- Behind the knees (the thin skin allows access to more nerve endings)
- Nape of neck
- Back of neck
- Inner thigh
- Stomach (lower part)
In closing, one most obvious erogenous zone that bears repeating: the mind. Sometimes, it takes more than simply touching. Flowers, wine, oysters, holding the door, a cup of coffee served in bed, some gentle attention: these, and more, can have an amazing effect.