Go back to
Home » My Kolkata » Lifestyle » Pleasure mapping — discovering what turns you on

Intimate Details

Pleasure mapping — discovering what turns you on

Finding pleasure in bed is about exploration; not an end-game, says sexuality educator Karishma Swarup

Karishma Swarup | Published 15.01.24, 07:03 PM
What if you and your partner drew out a map of all the parts of each other’s bodies and tracked where and how you feel pleasure?

What if you and your partner drew out a map of all the parts of each other’s bodies and tracked where and how you feel pleasure?


Hey there, I’ve realised that genital stimulation, whether with other genitals, fingers, tongue or massagers, just doesn’t do it for me. I’m wondering if there are other ways to orgasm that might be more enjoyable or if I’m just broken. Any suggestions or tips on different avenues of pleasure?"

— PleasurePathfinder


Dear PleasurePathfinder,

Sex is soooo much more than genital stimulation! You are anything but broken! I dare say if your sexual experiences involved only genital stimulation (and absolutely nothing else) it is quite possible that you may not enjoy it.

Sexy beyond PIV

We are often made to believe sex begins with some light kissing and body touching, but all of this is only to lead up to the “main” event of genital stimulation. Genital stimulation can be any touching of your penis and scrotum or vulva/vagina, including oral sex, penis-in-vagina sex, anal sex, handjobs, and fingering. There is often over-emphasis on penis-in-vagina sex (PIV), which may be important if your motivation for sex is to procreate, but less relevant if you are having sex for pleasure, fun, bonding or any other reason. While many people enjoy genital-centric sexual activity, more expansive ways to experience pleasure can help you if you have a partner with less sensation in the genitals, want to go beyond traditional ideas of what sex is, and hope to spice things up.

Have you tried phone sex? Kissing? Sexting? Sensual massage? Necking? Anal stimulation? These are just a few examples of ways in which you can have a sexy main event that doesn’t involve genitals.

There are 1,34,857 erogenous zones

Okay, perhaps not 1,34,857 exactly, but many more than I can count! There are articles that describe anywhere between seven to 32 erogenous zones in the body, which can be a great place to begin your exploration. Erogenous zones are areas of your skin or body where you may feel sensitive, have many nerve endings, making them pleasurable when touched or stimulated.

Erogenous zones can be the expected candidates like the neck, nipples (for people of any gender!), breasts, mouth and lips, inner thighs, pubic mound, and butt cheeks. Similarly, the foreskin, testicles and scrotum, anus and prostate can make someone feel great when touched (or licked, rubbed, stroked — whatever gets you going).

However, there are plenty of unexpected candidates too. The scalp, ears, navel, armpits, shoulders, lower back, behind the knees, under the feet… By now you’re probably thinking, “she’s naming all the body parts I can think of”, and yes, that is exactly right. This is why I feel like there are an infinite number of erogenous zones in our body.

While listicles may limit us to 30 erogenous zones, what people find stimulating or sensitive can vary dramatically from person to person. Just because your ex enjoyed having her toes licked does not necessarily mean your current partner will enjoy the same zone. I present to you: pleasure mapping.

Map to the pleasure treasure

Pleasure-mapping is exactly what it sounds like. What if you and your partner drew out a map of all the parts of each other’s bodies and tracked where and how you feel pleasure?

Begin by drawing an outline of bodies that best represent you and your partner. You can even print out the image attached here. Dim the lights, light a scented candle, play some music to set the mood.

Then, go slowly from head-to-toe, or in any order you like, touching and caressing each other in various body parts to see how you feel. When something feels good, mark it on the map! You can get into as much detail as you want. You may want to track what kind of sensation they enjoy in that area – gentle or rough, fast or slow, wet or dry, hot or cold. These preferences could also change for the same person depending on the day or the mood they’re in.

If you’re looking for an even more edgy, artsy experience, a friend once described doing this exercise with large chart papers that allowed for life-size outlines or body-prints that they painted together while exploring.

For homework this week, I urge you to find a small section of you and your partner’s body to map out even if you don’t have time for an in-depth full-body mapping session!

Genital stimulation is not the highlight of sex for everyone. There are multiple erogenous zones in the body that you can explore

Genital stimulation is not the highlight of sex for everyone. There are multiple erogenous zones in the body that you can explore


It’s (almost) all in the mind

Let’s not leave out the most important erogenous main character of our body, our mind! Touching our body physically, even with the best technique, can be ineffective if our brain isn’t coming along for the ride. Sometimes, this can look like taking the time to turn on your brain… take note of what gets your brain there on your map as well, is it dirty talk? Is it watching or reading something spicy together? Is it a dance, food or music?

Also take some time to note all the things that typically turn off your brain. These could be small stimuli around you — Room is cold,? Sheets are too rough? Can you hear your family members having a conversation right outside your door?) which can be fixed easily (wear some socks? buy new sheets? play some music?). They could also be larger issues in other aspects of your life that are affecting how present you are feeling— Are you stressed out about work? Are you worried about someone walking in? Are you experiencing anxiety or depression? Are you feeling shame or fear? — which may require you to work through those issues over time.

Making notes on your pleasure map or in a journal about what you enjoyed most about all your most enjoyable encounters can help you get in the mood again when you are feeling it for both genital and non-genital stimulation. This can make it much easier to express your needs to your partner when you want to get steamy next.

Hope you have the best time exploring – happy mapping, Pleasure Pathfinder!

Karishma Swarup is a Kolkata-born and raised sexuality educator, Instagrammer (@talkyounevergot) and works at a global consulting firm. She busts myths about sex, pleasure, intimacy, orgasms, periods, and all things related to sexual health.

If you have a question you would like Karishma to answer, send an email on with the subject line ‘Questions for Karishma’ or DM/comment on our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Last updated on 15.01.24, 08:36 PM

More from My Kolkata