If you’ve never introduced yourself to your clitoris, now is the time.
If you are comrades for life, you still might appreciate some of the nuggets below.
Learning about your body is a responsibility you owe to yourself whether you are in a committed relationship, flying solo, or somewhere in between.
So let’s dive right in ;)
The clitoris’s only job is sensation (unlike the penis which also lists penetration, ejaculation, and urination on its resume) which means we as women were designed for PLEASURE! There are two external parts of the clitoris that you can see (the glans and the hood) and three internal parts that are not visible (the body, the crura and the vestibular bulbs). Much like an iceberg, most of the clitoris can be found beneath the surface!
The glans of the clitoris is a pea-sized nub located at the top of your vulva, above the vaginal and urethral opening, and below the mons pubis which is the fleshy part of the pelvis lying over the pubic bones where you would find pubic hair if you have it.
While it is the most innervated and sensitive part of the clitoris, it does not have erectile tissue and thus cannot swell or grow like the rest of the clitoris. The clitoral hood is a flap of skin that surrounds and protects the glans of your clitoris and can vary in size and shape from barely covering your clitoris to completely covering it. Check out this link for pictures of variations so you can see there really is no “normal.”
The body of the clitoris slants upwards and attaches to your pubic bone via ligaments before splitting in half to form the crura (or legs) and the vestibular bulbs which straddle the urethra and vagina and contain erectile tissue that swells with blood during female arousal.
In her book, Come As You Are, Emily Nagoski, Ph.D. points out that clitoral stimulation is the most reliable way to elicit an orgasm. But intercourse is not a very effective way to stimulate the clitoris. In fact, less than a third of women are reliably orgasmic with vaginal penetration alone, and even 80-90% of women who masturbate typically do so with little or no vaginal penetration (even when using vibrators).
So what’s a girl to do? Here are some practical tips to help you get started:
If you’re not sure where to start, check out the online program OMG Yes where you can explore the latest science about the specific ways women find and enhance pleasure through 62 short videos and 11 touchable videos. For example, learn the practice of edging: gently approaching full orgasm but backing off in order to create a bigger orgasm. Orbiting is the term for the many different ways of circling the clitoris. Flexing is activating the body’s muscles to heighten pleasure. We must first learn how we like to be touched and what feels good before we can advocate for better pleasure with a partner.
Sex is not a spectator sport and when we are self-conscious about the faces we make or the sounds that escape from our mouths mid-O, it can be a boner-killer for us. In her book, Better Sex through Mindfulness, Dr. Lori Brotto, says “Our attention wanders like a puppy.” And according to Dr. Nagoski, “Many of us have spent years training that puppy to wander in any direction except toward our internal sensations, especially our sexual sensations. As a result of negative sexual experiences and cultural messages, our attention has been trained to watch out for problems-to criticize our bodies, to monitor our responses during sex, and to worry about whether we’re ‘doing it right’ or even whether we should be doing it at all. Many of us have been taught, almost from the moment of birth, to ignore or criticize or mistrust our sexual bodies. Mindfulness isn’t about imposing stern discipline on the puppy; it’s about attending to her with patience and nonjudgment, as you ask her to notice your internal sensations.”
Try this activity...
Close your eyes or even blindfold yourself. Eliminating one sense often heightens the others. Have your partner touch your body (or touch your own body) starting with non-sexual areas like the inside of the arms or the back of the calf in a non-goal oriented way. The person giving the touch should act as if they were exploring your body for the very first time. You, as the receiver of the touch, should allow your skin to come alive under your partner’s fingertips. Experiment with different materials like a feather or piece of silk. Venture into more intimate areas including the labia and clitoris when you’re readily bringing the same quality of mindfulness to the experience.
These are the muscles that spread you’re your pubic bone to your tailbone and in between your sitting bones. Think of it like a diamond-shaped area of great value. During the pre-orgasm part of sex, these muscles contract in unison. The orgasm occurs as these muscles all relax and release their tension. Some researchers have also found that a strong pelvic floor can help “pump” blood to the clitoris which may produce a more intense orgasm.
Keep in mind that in order to have a fully functioning pelvic floor, you need muscles that know how to fully contract AND fully relax. There’s a common misconception that all women should be doing Kegels.
Many women hold stress in this area making the muscles too tense. They need to first learn how to relax this area so the muscles can fully lengthen AND THEN they can work on strengthening.
How do you know if you’re one of them? It’s best to schedule an appointment with a Women’s Health Physical Therapist who can do a full evaluation of your ability to contract, relax, and sustain a contraction. Women’s Health PTs can also address issues like urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and pain with sex which are all things that might act as roadblocks to you reaching the climax you deserve.
There’s so many sites selling sex toys these days but make sure you are using one you can trust and if you are going to be using it vaginally, make sure it’s made of materials that are vagina-friendly. Remember, most women who masturbate do so with external stimulation only but some prefer internal. There are vibrators, and clitoris suctioning devices, and the new “rose” device that is a little bit of both!
I encourage you to become your own best lover!
Sex lights up the same reward pathways in our brain that are activated during drug use, alcohol consumption, and gambling but has way fewer side effects (as long as you’re practicing safer sex)!
An orgasm is a gift that does not always require a partner, but usually requires a bit of practice. So stop scrolling and get rolling!