If your clitoris still feels like a bit of a mystery, you are definitely not alone. Despite being the most unique human organ, the clitoris is rarely discussed in sex ed and depictions in medical textbooks are limited and sometimes omitted altogether. In fact, it wasn’t until 1998 (the same year Brandy and Monica were topping the charts with “The Boy is Mine”) that doctors finally understood it’s full anatomy. Is it any wonder a study found almost 30 percent of college women were unable to I.D. their clit on diagram of the female body?
“What isn’t named doesn’t exist, and every time someone uses the word ‘vagina’ when they really mean ‘vulva,’ they’re erasing some of the parts of a woman’s sexual organs that give them the most pleasure,” notes Dr. Laurie Mintz, in her book Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters—And How To Get It.
Keeping information about your body a secret has never helped ANYONE. Here, the psychology professor and human sexuality expert helps provide a much-needed guide to the source of your greatest pleasure. Let’s get cliterate!
It’s got a lot in common with the penis
Like the penis, the clitoris has a glans, or tip, and foreskin. It also becomes erect and engorged with blood when aroused. “It’s chock-full of erectile tissue with capillaries that allow blood to flow in and not out, which causes the swelling,” explains Dr. Mintz. “It builds and builds and at the moment of orgasm, the capillaries open up again and the blood flows back out. That release, along with muscle contractions, create intensely pleasurable feelings.”
It’s bigger than you think
Your clitoris is waaay more than just a button. It’s an internal AND external organ. While you’re most familiar with the nub at the top of your vulva, the full scope of the clitoris includes a hood, shaft, legs and bulbs. “The clitoral hood covers the glans for protection because touching that glans directly can be too intense for a lot of women,” says Dr. Mintz. The rest of the clitoris extends inward. “You can feel part of it through your mons pubis—which is the round fatty tissue up top—and then it has a shaft and wishbone shaped legs that run around the vaginal opening, as well as two bulbs shaped like teardrops,” says Dr. Mintz. The stimulation of these internal structures may actually be what we think of as the G-spot.
It’s the female pleasure center
“The clitoris is the only human organ that’s sole and only purpose is for sexual pleasure,” says Dr. Mintz. Problem is, our culture defines sex as “penetration” and very few women achieve orgasm through intercourse alone. “Ninety-five percent of women need clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm and only 14 to 18 percent orgasm from thrusting alone,” says Dr. Mintz. “The nerve endings the vast majority of women need to stimulate in order to achieve orgasm are on the outside. We have to value that and stop treating the male way of reaching orgasm (penetration) as the default best way for all humans to orgasm or have intercourse.”
It’s different for everyone
Genital nerves can be positioned a bit differently from person to person. This means the kind of touch and pressure that feels good will also vary from person to person. “For some it might be rubbing the hood and to others it might be to the right or the left or somewhere on the inner lips,” says Dr. Mintz. “When we talk about clitoral stimulation it’s not just find your clitoris and touch it. It’s find out what gives you pleasure. Find your sweet spots.”
Well, what are you waiting for?