Updated: Oct 10, 2021
Understanding male arousal triggers can sometimes be confusing.
Human sexuality is complex. Deciphering what is biological and what is socially conditioned, when it comes to male arousal triggers, varies from person to person.
While there's significant diversity in what turns men on, there are some factors about male arousal that are easier to identify.
(Note: this article will utilize the terms "man," "men," and "male" to denote cisgender men, as there's less research available on the arousal triggers for transgender men or non-binary penis owners.)
Male arousal triggers are made up of social, cognitive, biological, and sensory cues.
Like people of all genders, thoughts, feelings, and memories of past sexual partners or sexual activity, fantasies, scents, and certain kinds of touch are the fodder for arousal.
Here are the 3 male arousal triggers that turn men on.
1. Erogenous zones
This includes the thigh, inner wrist, inner elbow, neck, inner thigh, back of the knee, ribs, stomach, armpits, fingers, toes, and ears. These are frequently left out of the outercourse equation, while more attention is paid to oral sex.
Spend some time with your partner and explore his body together to learn what spots ignite his arousal, how he likes them stimulated, and which areas of his body are less responsive.
You might try blowing, licking, sucking, or even a little gentle nibbling to change up the way you play and to see what your partner likes best.
2. The penis
The penis is a sex organ with many sensitive spots. Each person likes their penis stimulated differently. Some like lighter pressure, others like it more firm.
You might try a mixture of slower and faster movements, whether you're licking, sucking, or stroking your partner’s penis.
During oral or manual stimulation, you might include stroking the foreskin or putting some pressure on the base of the penis with your fingers, while using your lips and tongue on the shaft.
Communicate with your partner and see what ignites heat.
3. The anus
Many men, of all sexual orientations, like to have their anus and perineum involved in sex. The anus has a lot of nerve endings, making it a wellspring of pleasure for many.
Rimming (using your lips and tongue around the edge of the anus, and penetration can offer a ton of arousal.
Some men enjoy having their prostate gland stimulated. Known as the P-Spot, massaging the prostate through the perineum or anus can result in ejaculation.
What causes male arousal triggers?
Researchers at the Kinsey Institute note the Dual Control Model (DCM) of Sexual Response plays a large role for people of all genders.
The Dual Control Model reflects two systems in the body that moderate arousal: excitation (like a gas pedal) and inhibition (like stepping on the brake).
The excitation and inhibition systems speak to the nuance in each person’s arousal and can help to demystify the process of getting turned on.
Arousing thoughts, memories, or sensory input activate the excitation system while stimuli that evoke a negative feeling or a turn-off activate the inhibition system.
Everyone has different triggers that activate their gas or brake, and each person’s arousal template is unique.
For one person, fear may be an accelerant for arousal, where for others, it may shut down their arc of arousal and take them out of the mood.
The male sex drive is governed primarily by two parts of the brain: the cerebral cortex and the limbic system.
The cerebral cortex is the outer layer of gray matter and is responsible for higher-level functions, such as planning and conscious thought.
The limbic system is comprised of three main parts of the brain responsible for emotions, motivation, and sex drive including the hippocampus, hypothalamus, and amygdala.
Together these two parts of the brain communicate to start the process of sexual desire and arousal.
The male sexual arousal cycle is composed of four distinct phases: excitement/arousal, plateau, orgasm, and resolution/refraction.
Varying levels of dopamine, serotonin, and nitric acid play a role in the neurochemical regulation of ejaculation.