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What Is a Foot Fetish?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 30, 2020

People with a foot fetish — or podophilia — are sexually interested in feet. They get sexual pleasure from feet and may consider them a necessary part of sexual gratification. 

This is one of the most popular types of fetishes. In one study on fetishes, half the people surveyed said they had a foot fetish.

Some experts believe that body-related fetishes, like a foot fetish, stem from an evolutionary urge to pass on a desirable trait to future children.

However, the origins of foot fetishes may be in the brain. Studies show that the feet and genitals activate the same areas in the brain when they are stimulated. 

What's the Difference Between a Foot Fetish and a Shoe Fetish?

Some people with a foot fetish prefer bare feet. Others enjoy garments like socks or shoes. Someone with a shoe fetish — also known as retifism — finds feet in shoes, or perhaps just the shoes themselves, erotic and sexually gratifying.

They may prefer a specific kind of shoe, like sandals, or they may simply enjoy shoes in general. People with a shoe fetish may like:

  • Wearing shoes themselves
  • Seeing others wear shoes
  • Using the shoes for sexual gratification

Some people have both a foot fetish and a shoe fetish.

People with these fetishes may have more specific preferences, too. Some enjoy clean feet and shoes, while others prefer dirty or sweaty ones. Some enjoy large feet, while others prefer small sizes. 

How to Explore a Foot Fetish

You can explore your foot fetish with or without a sexual partner. On your own, one way to start is by searching online for images or videos of feet.

If you have a sexual partner, the first step is telling them about your fetish. You may be nervous to bring it up, and that’s normal. Sexuality experts recommend creating a dedicated time to talk about it with no interruptions. Make sure to talk about your sexual desires and positive aspects of your relationship.

If both you and your partner would like to explore a foot fetish, some ideas include:

  • Giving or receiving a foot massage
  • Sucking on toes
  • Kissing certain areas of the feet
  • Washing each other's feet
  • Getting a pedicure
  • Sending foot pictures to your partner
  • Giving or receiving a foot job (stimulating the genitals using the feet)

Safety Advice and Special Considerations

A foot fetish is generally safe. If you and your partner are exploring a foot fetish through touch, it’s a good idea to make sure toenails are trimmed and your feet are free of any open sores or wounds, especially before you or your partner put toes or feet into the mouth, vagina, or anus.

Simply having a fetish is normal and is not a sign of disordered behavior. But a fetish can transform into a disorder if the fixation leads you to perform unsafe or illegal activities. If your foot fetish causes damage to your social or work life, you may want to talk to a mental health professional. 

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Dictionary.com: "foot fetish."

The Free Dictionary: "Shoe Fetishism."

International Journal of Impotence Research: "Relative prevalence of different fetishes."

The Journal of Sexual Medicine: "Foot orgasm syndrome: a case report in a woman."

Medical Journal Armed Forces India: "Sexuality in the 21st century: Leather or rubber? Fetishism explained."

Merriam-Webster: "fetish."

Metro: "Beginner's Guide to Foot Play."

Psychology Today: "Fetishistic Disorder."

Scientific Reports: "Single subject and group whole-brain fMRI mapping of male genital sensation at 7 Tesla."

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