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Friday, February 13, 2015

12 Things Everyone Should Know About The Clitoris


By Taylor Kubota

When it comes to the topic of how to sexually satisfy a woman, talk of the clitoris is quick to come up. This is because, for many women, the clitoris is the primary pleasure center. Still, beyond acknowledging that it exists and maybe having some idea of where it’s located, most of us know very little about the clitoris. With the help of Betty Dodson, sexologist and sex educator, here is crash course in what we should all know about a woman’s most sensitive part.

Columbus “Discovered” It

Italian professor Renaldus Columbus is said to have “discovered” the clitoris in 1559, when he described the body part in his book De re anatomica. Although plenty of people probably knew the clitoris was down there, he was one of the first to openly talk about it. Gabrial Fallopius, the man for whom the fallopian tubes are named, has also laid claim to the discovery.

It’s Been Ignored

Research has shown that the clitoris gets very little attention compared to other sex-related body parts. “We’ll talk about the penis until we’re blue in the face, but when it comes to the clitoris — which is our phallus, our penis — all of the sudden, it’s a blackout,” says Dodson. A Southwest Texas University study from 2000 looked at a database of psychology research stretching from 1887 to 2000 and found that 1,482 sources contained the term penis, 409 contained vagina, and 83 contained clitoris.

It’s Larger Than You Think

What most people think is the clitoris is actually only a small part of it, called “the glans”. The

glans is very important but the clitoris continues inside the body. “We have nearly as much erectile tissue as men. Ours is internal,” says Dodson. Inside women, the clitoris wraps around either side of the vaginal canal and has two legs (called crura). The clitoris also has two bulbs that lie under the vulva. According to the Museum of Sex, if a woman is excited enough, these will engorge, creating a tighter opening down there. Although much of the clitoris is hidden, it’s all sensitive erectile tissue, so stimulating it from the outside can still feel really good.

It Really Is a Female Penis

The part of an embryo that becomes a penis in males becomes the clitoris in females. Just as with penises, the clitoris is sensitive, creates pleasurable feelings, and can become erect when a woman is sexually excited — which usually takes about 10 to 20 minutes. Clitorises also have their own version of a foreskin, called the clitoral hood. Some women like the hood to be pulled back during stimulation, so they can feel the full effects.

There Is Variation

Breasts, penises, vaginas, and testicles vary greatly in appearance from person to person and the clitoris is not an exception to the rule. On average, the glans (the part of the clitoris you can see) is about 1/5 of an inch long and 1/10 of an inch wide. The clitoris as a whole is usually about four inches long. Clitorises not only vary in size and width, they also vary in sensitivity.

Its Purpose Is Pleasure

So far as anyone can tell, the sole purpose of the clitoris is that it can make a woman feel really good. “The point of the clitoris is that it’s our primary organ for pleasure," says Dodson. It doesn’t play an essential role in getting pregnant. This doesn’t mean the clitoris isn’t important. Research has shown that around 75 percent of women need direct clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm. Ignoring the clitoris would be like ignoring the head of the penis, says Dodson. 

It’s Twice as Sensitive as a Penis

The clitoris is highly sensitive. It has 8,000 nerve endings, about twice as many as the penis. While this can translate to a lot of good feelings, it can also mean that overstimulation may be an issue. “You can’t handle a clitoris like you handle a penis,” says Dodson. Many women don’t enjoy aggressive friction down there and, as a result, may pull away if things are getting too forceful.

Lubrication Is Crucial

A woman’s skin down there does secrete some fluid but most bodily lubrication during sex comes from the vagina. However, not all women lubricate as much as they or their partners might want, regardless of age or arousal. Because the clitoris is so sensitive, this is an important detail. “Always make sure there is plenty of lubrication. Never touch a clitoris with a dry finger,” says Dodson. Saliva doesn’t cut it either because it dries out fairly quickly. Dodson recommends 100 percent almond oil, which can be bought at a health foods store.

Placement Matters

Another way in which clitorises may differ from woman to woman is in terms of placement. Research has revealed that women who have clitorises that are farther from their vaginal opening are more likely to have problems with orgasm. The magic distance seems to be about 2.5 cm.

Clitoris Week

For one week in May, an organization called Clitoraid puts on Clitoris Awareness Week. The purpose of this week is to raise public awareness about the clitoris. Clitoraid wants to encourage exploration of and excitement about this spot. They also want to bring attention to genital mutilation of women, which is still common in many African countries and is associated with sexual guilt that remains in many cultures.

Learn Coital Alignment Technique

There are a couple different options specifically designed to stimulate a woman’s clitoris in the way most women like. One is the Coital Alignment Technique, which is a variation of missionary. To get into this position, start in missionary with the man’s full weight on the woman. Then the guy needs to moves up about two inches while the woman’s legs are around his thighs to create direct pressure. From there he rocks, while she thrusts. This all may feel a little awkward at first and take some personal adjustments but it does yield results for many people. 

Just Ask

If there is one thing everyone should understand about sex, it’s that the best way to have great sex, is to actively learn about it. Both partners play an important role in this. “It’s not all the men’s fault because the women are not speaking up and educating them,” says Dodson. There can be embarrassment, shame, and fear of hurting feelings involved. There can also be a lack of self-awareness. Some women haven’t figured out what feels best. Whatever the obstacles, talking and exploring together is usually an effective (and fun) way to address them.

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