Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 45, Issue 5, pp 1207–1216 | Cite as

Topography of Human Erogenous Zones

  • Lauri Nummenmaa
  • Juulia T. Suvilehto
  • Enrico Glerean
  • Pekka Santtila
  • Jari K. Hietanen
Original Paper


Touching is a powerful means for eliciting sexual arousal. Here, we establish the topographical organization of bodily regions triggering sexual arousal in humans. A total of 704 participants were shown images of same and opposite sex bodies and asked to color the bodily regions whose touching they or members of the opposite sex would experience as sexually arousing while masturbating or having sex with a partner. Resulting erogenous zone maps (EZMs) revealed that the whole body was sensitive to sexual touching, with erogenous hotspots consisting of genitals, breasts, and anus. The EZM area was larger while having sex with a partner versus while masturbating, and was also dependent on sexual desire and heterosexual and homosexual interest levels. We conclude that tactile stimulation of practically all bodily regions may trigger sexual arousal. Extension of the erogenous zones while having sex with a partner may reflect the role of touching in maintenance of reproductive pair bonds.


Somatosensation Arousal Sexuality Touch Bonding 



This research was supported by Academy of Finland (MIND Program Grants #265915 to LN and #266187 to JKH).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary material

10508_2016_745_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1045 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauri Nummenmaa
    • 1
    • 2
  • Juulia T. Suvilehto
    • 1
  • Enrico Glerean
    • 1
  • Pekka Santtila
    • 3
  • Jari K. Hietanen
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering, School of ScienceAalto UniversityEspooFinland
  2. 2.Turku PET Centre and Department of PsychologyUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  3. 3.Department of Psychology and LogopedicsÅbo Akademi UniversityTurkuFinland
  4. 4.Human Information Processing Laboratory, School of Social Sciences and Humanities/PsychologyUniversity of TampereTampereFinland

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