For many, sex is defined as vaginal-penile intercourse, or penetration of vagina/anus by fingers, penises, and toys, which, while fun, is also dreadfully limiting — for everyone. Thankfully for you, this article offers ways to think about sex that go beyond sexual poking and open us up to experience pleasure all across our bodies.

Seven, seven, seven…. SEVEN!

If you don’t already know the “Friends” scene where Monica tells Chandler about the seven erogenous zones, check it out. While we never learn which particular parts she is pointing to, the message is clear: great sex is more than genitals and penetration. So, what might those erogenous zones be?

Let’s start with the biggest (and probably most forgotten) sex organ — our skin! We are literally made of nerve endings just waiting to be aroused. In an amazing scene from Don Juan DeMarco (1994), Don Juan irresistibly explains that some women “have fingers, with the same sensitivities as their legs, the fingertips have the same feelings as their feet, and when you touch their knuckles, it is like passing your hands along their knees. And this tender fleshy part of the finger is the same as brushing your hands around their thighs.” Melting yet? I don’t know about you, but that scene screams sex to me and it’s a description of touching someone’s hand.

While your fingers may or may not be energetically connected to your thighs and genitals, there are likely parts of your body that are. It may be the neck, belly button, ear, butt, feet, shoulder blades, thut (where thigh meets butt), or literally anywhere else. Sex is exploring these regions and finding the spaces that make your body sing.

Kiss them… and squeeze them… and lick them… and….
I’m a fan of sex verbs: kiss, squeeze, lick, but also brush, tickle, tease, pinch, bite, scratch, suck, and more. Combining these verbs with body parts creates a fun, sensual, and pleasurable game, like the Hot Date Night Game, which includes sexy questions and suggestions. Or, you could create your own! This might look like “bite shoulder blades,” “lick nipples,” “suck fingers,” and so on. Testing these combinations (and for those of us who menstruate, at different times of the month when we have different sensitivities), can open up our sex lives tenfold. It also makes our bodies more excited for sexual activity because our minds begin to relate almost everything with pleasure!

Then, of course, there are all of the sex acts that have names: oral sex, digital sex (aka hands), phone sex, and virtual sex. Below are quick descriptions of each.

Oral Sex/Going Down On
This form of sex involves a person’s tongue on someone’s genitals or anus. For vulvas it’s often called “eating out,” on penises, “blow job,” and “rimming” on an anus. Oral sex is a common activity across gender pairings because it’s hella fun to have something warm and wet against sensitive body parts, though you can add ice or cold water to play with temperature.

Digital Sex/Hand Jobs
This is like oral sex but you replace the tongue with a hand or finger. This can range from lightly brushing fingers across the clitoris, balls, penis, chest, and anus to a strong grip around a penis with up and down motions or (gentle) twisting motions, to pinching the clitoris or nipples between your fingers. Playing with pressure, temperature, and whether the hand is dry or lubricated can create different delicious sensations.

Phone & Virtual Sex
Visuals and voices are the direct acts for this sex type, often along with touching yourself. Partners might describe sex scenes or fantasies to one another, give each other instructions, and participate in one another’s pleasuring techniques over the phone or video.

Does this all really count as sex?
That’s up to you. Your definition may include only certain acts, or it may be inclusive of all experiences involving arousal and/or sensual pleasure. Maybe it includes physical touch and maybe not. I see understanding all of these acts as sex as a way to value all the ways our bodies experience pleasure equally — rather than seeing certain forms as more legitimate.

More importantly though, what are you and your lovers (or you on your own) doing to excite and enthrall bodies and minds tonight?

Pure Romance suggestion: try a warming lubricant like Sensations – Cotton Candy that just takes a warm breath or a little friction to turn up the heat!

Interested in speaking to someone about expanding your sexual repertoire? Email Yael at [email protected]


Yael R. Rosenstock Gonzalez

Yael R. Rosenstock Gonzalez

Sex Educator, Researcher, Author, Speaker
I'm a queer, polyamorous Nuyorican (Puerto Rican New Yorker) Jewish pleasure activist (a term popularized by adrienne maree brown) who believes that sexual wellness and sexual liberation involve our WHOLE selves. I center identity, values, and social positioning work, playful exploration, and intimacy with self and others. I am here to support you in finding pleasurable, joyful, embodied experiences with self and sex through intentional practices geared towards your specific needs because sexual wellness and pleasure are for anyone who seeks them.