The Fascination with Tickling in Sexual Arousal

In the world of human sexuality, almost anything is possible when it comes to arousal. Even tickling. People can experience sexual arousal in a variety of ways, including through tickling. This may sound odd, but many individuals find it to be a significant part of their sexual template or even fetish.

Dr. Nazanin Moali, sex therapist and host of the Sexology podcast, explains that, for most individuals, erotic tickling provides pleasure due to a combination of physical and psychological elements. This article explores the science behind the tickling sensation and how it can lead to arousal, the role of tickling in BDSM, and how some tickling fetishes can manifest during sexual encounters.

Researchers state that tickling creates a fear response that triggers a biological defense mechanism against threats. The sensation alerts the body to something crawling/moving on the skin. Biologically, our bodies innately understand that the tickling sensation can be unpleasant and may lead to alerting the person to potential danger. This response is why people laugh when tickled, although they might be experiencing varying levels of discomfort.

Some people may be turned on by tickling because it can trigger fear, which leads to physiological arousal that can enhance sexual pleasure. Tickling falls under the pain-pleasure umbrella of emotions, which are highly connected in the brain. The overwhelming feelings that come with tickling can feel like a life-threatening situation. The body’s response to this perceived danger may spike adrenaline levels, leading to sexual arousal. This anticipation of being tickled can activate the same parts of the brain that light up when people are actually being tickled. Additionally, some people can even orgasm purely from being tickled.

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Tickling during sexual encounters can help to foster a deep sense of intimacy and vulnerability between partners in a safe and consensual way. The Dom/sub dynamic is a crucial aspect of a tickling scene. The Tickler, who is the dominant party, and the ticklee, who is the submissive party, take on their respective roles. For sexual arousal to occur, both parties need to feel safe and respected so that the experience can be pleasurable. Although tickle play does not always involve the classic BDSM impact play/bondage/leather situation, it usually happens under the umbrella of BDSM.

In some cases, some individuals might develop a fetish, termed Knismophiliac, for tickling. A fetish characterizes a situation, object, act, or sensation without which an individual cannot reach peak sexual arousal. This ultimate pleasure may come from experiencing a variety of sensations or child-like playfulness. Additionally, tickling can add to the overall experience of sex and kink, in some cases leading to climactic adventures.

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