Feature: A Rough Guide To The Clitoris (It comes in all shapes and sizes!)

Some Amazing Facts About The Clitoris

By Drew Darcy

I recently checked out an amazing art exhibition all about the clitoris, called “CLITERACY.” Now, the clitoris doesn’t usually get a lot of press. It’s usually upstaged by the vagina, which is usually left in the dust by the attention that the penis gets.
So, to walk into an art exhibit all about the clitoris was pretty amazing even for a sex educator! The artist, Sophia Wallace, in her ongoing mixed media project, aims to:
[expose] the irony of society’s obsession with and ignorance of female sexuality. CLITERACY, 100 Natural Laws (2012) includes a monumental wall of texts which challenge phallocentric biases in science, law, philosophy, politics and the art world. Wallace’s focus on the clitoris and female pleasure serves to question and counteract the history of misinformation regarding women’s bodies and the concomitant oppression therein.

I was completely drawn in. I left with a lot of crazy amazing clitoral facts and then went off to do even more research! Brace yourself for some facts and thoughts about the clitoris. As artist Sophia Wallace states, “the clitoris is not a button, it’s an iceberg.”

1. If you want to address the clitoris, labia, and vagina together, the vulva is the all-encompassing term.vagina-anatomy-outer20130505_232202000_iOS

2. Fifty to seventy-five percent of women who have climaxes (orgasms) need to have their clitoris touched (clitoral stimulation). Most women are unable to have an orgasm through intercourse alone.

3. The clitoris is only partially visible to the naked eye. The clitoris is actually close to four inches in length (kinda like the average non-erect penis), but three-fourths of it is hidden from view within a female’s body. It’s buried treasure. Think of all that pleasure potential in the entire region. Have you explored it?20120315_132819000_iOS 2

4. The clitoris grows throughout a woman’s life. After menopause, the clitoris can become 2.5 times larger than it was when the same woman was a teenager. I don’t think that there has been an actually study about clitoris size in relation to pleasure. And I don’t think that women have a size thing about their clitoris, the way men do around penis size. I have never ever met a woman who has measured her clitoris, but I have met men who have measured their penis.6f84aa38f97b68fe10461dbcb81014

5. The clitoris contains 8,000 deliciously sensitive nerve endings, double the nerve endings in the glans of a penis. Sorry, guys.

6. Most of us don’t know that all babies have the exact same genital tissue when they are conceived. At about 12 weeks, each baby’s genitalia begin to differentiate into a penis or labia. We are more alike than we are different. The clitoris and penis are the same materials assembled in a different way. The clitoris has glans, a foreskin (also known as the hood), erectile tissue and a very small shaft, all the parts that a penis has. It even swells when it’s aroused.

7. Back to being an “innie” and an “out” as I already stated, only one-quarter of the clitoris is visible. The rest of it is inside the woman’s body. Besides the clitoris being made up the clitoral head, the hood and the clitoral shaft, it is also composed of the urethral sponge, erectile tissue, glands, vestibular bulbs and the clitoral legs. Only the clitoral head and the hood are located outside the body. Some sex experts believe that the G Spot is actually a part of the clitoris.2000px-Clitoris_Anatomy.svg

8. The clitoris is designed to bring a woman pleasure. That is its sole purpose. Not reproduction.20140626_163842000_iOS copy

9. Yes, there are all kinds of orgasms. Vaginal, Cervical and G Spot Orgasms do exist, but they are much harder for most women to achieve than a clitoral orgasm. Very few women are able to achieve an orgasm without any kind of clitoral involvement. There is nothing immature about women having orgasms through their clitoris. Sorry, Dr. Sigmund Freud.

10. The clitoris varies in size and shape on different women. Some are hidden under the hood, and some stick out. Some like to be touched softly and others like a lot of pressure. It takes time to get to know a woman’s clitoris. Don’t assume that you know what it likes. Take your time and get to know each unique clitoris, just like you would take the time to get to know the woman it is attached to.2

11. People have all kinds of nicknames for the clitoris. You may have heard “man in canoe,” “Rosebud,” “joy buzzer,” “cherry pit,” “love button,” or “bald man in a boat,” just to name a few. I have also heard chickpea and lentils. Anyone have a chip?

12. A clitoral orgasm can bring about anywhere between three and 16 contractions and can last from 10 to 30 seconds. But that doesn’t exclude the fact that many women have multiple orgasms that can include pelvic contractions. Some sex educators have compared and contrasted male and female orgasm and have concluded that even the most average clitoral orgasm lasts longer than even the best ever most fantastic male orgasm. Once again, kinda bad news for the men. Woman have more nerve endings in our clitoris. Did you know that the word “Clitoris” is from the Greek word for “key”? Understanding and getting to know the clitoris may unlock your sex life forever. I invite you not to dismiss the clitoris and realise how deeply wired this gland is into the female body. Why wouldn’t we take a cue from the ancient Greeks, and recognise fully that this amazing female pleasure source is indeed a key to unlocking a female’s pleasure possibilities and perhaps so much more? When we turn a key, doors open.

So what is the clitoris?

For people with vaginas, orgasms most commonly come from the clitoris, located above the vaginal opening and urethra. The clitoris is the primary source of female sexual pleasure!

Feel-good areas: erogenous zones

Erogenous zones are areas of the body that elicit a sexual response when stimulated. This can include the genital area, nipples, or anywhere really whatever you’re into. The most sensitive erogenous zone of a female body is the clitoris. By stimulating an erogenous zone (like during masturbation or intercourse), a sexual physiological response can be set into motion.

Stimulation of the clitoris can be applied directly, internally (through the vagina), and/or through stimulation of the vulva. Many women despite perhaps enjoying and getting excited from penetrative sex, don’t always orgasm from intercourse. Direct stimulation of the glans, clitoris or hood is usually needed for the final push to reach orgasm!

Explor these female erogenous zones!

1. Clitoris
A runaway winner for the title of “Body Part Contributing Most to Sexual Arousal,” the clitoris is extremely sensitive. (Hello, nerve endings!) Research shows that stimulating the clitoris is the fastest and easiest way for many women to orgasm. For the most part, pressure and vibration are the way to go; research suggests light touching doesn’t always have the same effect.03

2. Vagina
Heard of the famous mecca of sexual pleasure that is the female “G-spot?” Yeah, researchers are pretty sure that doesn’t actually exist. The interior of the vagina, however, does contain nerve endings, and women report that deep stimulation leads to more intense orgasms. The outer edge of the vagina, on the other hand, tends to respond to light touch.tumblr_n1czcz5oyU1run2fvo1_500

3. Cervix
The cervix, located at the lower end of the uterus, has its own feel-good nerve pathways. In fact, some research suggests that the vagina, clitoris, and cervix all respond separately and distinctly to sexual stimuli. Nerves in the cervix respond most to pressure stimulation, but light touch has been shown to elicit a response as well.

4. Mouth and Lips
A recent survey found kissing to be more important in relationship-building than in sexual arousal. But another study suggests that many women rank the lips and mouth highly as erogenous areas. Who says it can’t be bothDevon-Lee-Lesbian-008IMG_1422

5. Neck
According to a large international survey of women, both the nape and back of the neck are among the top 10 erogenous zones. One study found that the neck is very sensitive to light touch, especially (oddly enough) among people with low body fat. Another study found that women with spinal cord injury can get pretty turned on by neck stimulation alone.sex-love-life-2014-04-04-couple-in-bed-main

6. Breasts and Nipples
While both men and women may like to look at breasts (for evolutionary purposes, apparently), they’re not just for show—they play a role in sexual arousal as well. Turns out nipple stimulation sets fireworks off in the same region of the brain that processes sensations from the clitoris and vagina. Just as with the clitoris, pressure and vibration are generally the way to go.

7.Ears are super sensitive to touch, probably due to a large number of nerve endings. Although there’s no science yet to say why ears are erogenous, it seems to be a fairly common consensus that they are.

Erogenous Zones on the Male Body

1. Penis
While this one’s pretty obvious, it’s worth noting that both survey and lab-based scientific experiments demonstrate that penile stimulation significantly contributes to sexual satisfaction. And while this can be a sensitive subject, circumcision doesn’t appear to decrease sensation or sexual satisfaction.

2. Mouth and Lips
Highly sensitive, male lips respond to light touch, temperature, or pressure. Kissing also triggers a release of hormones involved in intimacy—especially oxytocin, the so-called “love hormone.” Pucker up!

3. Scrotum
Ranked No. 3 (behind penis and lips) inability to produce sexual arousal, the scrotum is one of a man’s most notable erogenous zones. Lots of nerves mean that this area is super-sensitive to touch. However there’s no research to back up what sort of touch works best so you might have to resort to a slightly-less-than-scientific source instead!

4. Neck
While touching the neck doesn’t appear to be quite as much of a turn-on for men as for women, it’s still ranked pretty highly on the erogenous zones list. The neck has great sensitivity to low-frequency vibration, making it a prime spot for light erotic touch.

5. Nipples
As with women, men rank nipples as a definite hot spot. While male nipples don’t appear to serve any real purpose (they’re basically by-products of evolution), that doesn’t mean they’re totally useless, they still have plenty of nerve endings!

6. Perineum
The perineum (the area between the anus and scrotum) is hooked up to perineal nerves, which help convey sensations of sexual pleasure from the genitals to the brain. In other words, if you’re not familiar with this area, it might be worth your time to get acquainted.golie-parni-foto-lichnie-2

7. Ears
Highly sensitive to touch because of a high number of sensory receptors on the skin, the ears are ranked just behind the scrotum for body parts that help men orgasm when touched or otherwise stimulated.

The clitoris and the penis—a shared beginning

The penis and the clitoris are related in structure to one another. In fact, they actually originate from the same developmental tissue. At eight weeks of fetal development, the Y chromosome on male DNA will activate the differentiation of the genital tissue to develop into a penis, instead of a clitoris. Many of the parts of the clitoris are similar to that of the penis, but differ in shape and size, and are located in different places. Is the clitoris a small penis or the penis a giant clitoris?

The anatomy of the clitoris

The clitoris is not just the part of your vulva that feels like a tiny button. The clitoris is composed of multiple parts: the glans, the clitoral body, and the paired crura and vestibular bulbs.

External parts of the clitoris

The glans clitoris is the name of the part that most people call the “clitoris.” It is the external part of the clitoris, about the size of a pea, and is located above the urethra. Because the glans is the most highly innervated area of the clitoris, it’s extremely sensitive to touch.

The function of the glans clitoris is to detect sensation and stimulation. Unlike the rest of the clitoris, the glans does not swell or grow during the female sexual response, as it does not contain erectile (expandable) tissue.
Just above or on top of the glans is the clitoral hood, which is formed by the two sides of the connecting labia minora. Clitoral hoods can vary in size and degree of coverage from person to person.

Internal parts of the clitoris

The majority of the clitoris is not typically visible when looking at the vulva.
Connected to the glans clitoris is the body of the clitoris. The clitoral body projects upwards into your pelvis and attaches via ligaments to your pubic bone. From the body (located in front of the urethra), the clitoris splits in half to form the paired crura (these are like the “legs” of the clitoris), and vestibular bulbs. These bulbs extend through and behind the labia, passing by the urethra, vaginal canal, and towards the anus.

The bulbs and crura contain erectile tissue that swells with blood during female sexual arousal. By swelling on either side of the vaginal canal, they increase lubrication in the vagina, while increasing sexual stimulation and sensation. This expansion of clitoral tissue can also cause pressure to be applied to the anterior of the vaginal canal.urn_cambridge.org_id_binary_20161116082711659-0544_9781107587519_66713fig3_7

Clitoris research and the G-spot

The clitoris, both its anatomy and function is a hotly debated topic. Taboos about discussing women’s sexuality and pleasure have contributed to the lack of research in these areas. But as taboos are broken, more research will hopefully provide further clarity in understanding the clitoris.

The existence or function of the G-spot is not 100 percent clear. Some research claims it could be associated with female ejaculation (also known as “squirting”). Other researchers suggest that the G-spot isn’t necessarily an actual physical entity, but instead the place where the sides of the vestibular bulbs of the clitoris make contact with the anterior wall of the vagina. This suggests that a “vaginal orgasm” may actually still be connected to the clitoris with each thrust during penetrative vaginal intercourse or contraction of the pelvic muscles can stimulate the clitoris. Reaching an orgasm differs for everybody. Experimenting with masturbation or sex positions, as well as patience, can help you figure out what works best for you.

Five Ways Your Clitoris Affects Your Orgasm Because Size and Shape Can Matter

We tend to think that our clitorises are the same as everyone else’s clitorises and leave it at that. After all, how much variation can there really be in such a tiny nub and who has time to worry about stuff like that? Chances are, most of the anatomy-based time you have marked off in your schedule is already occupied with showing a partner how to touch your clitoris, or figuring out how to touch yourself in order to reach orgasm. Add in the fact that you theoretically must show up for a job or interact with your family, and it doesn’t leave most of us very much time to squat over a mirror and ponder the unique attributes of your little man in a boat. Plus, don’t you have to change your name to Moonrise Sunflower Shasta Wickerbasket if you’re going to start squatting over mirrors?

But paying attention to your clitoris can have more benefits than just connecting you with your inner moon goddess. Like pretty much every part of the human body, clitorises vary in shape, size, and many other factors that can have real-life effects on your ability to orgasm from various forms of stimulation. Have you ever tried “no fail” clitoral stimulation tips only to find yourself banging your vag against a wall in frustration because the tips totally failed? If you thought the problem was you, you’re not alone but you’re also wrong.

Lots of sex tips are built around the idea of an “average” clitoris — and though many women have bodies that respond well to those tips, many of us don’t benefit from the approach of one-size-fits-all sex tips. One of the many reasons why? The subtle but important variations in the shape and size of our clits.

So how do the different shapes, sizes, and even ages of clitorises change the best approach for having an orgasm? Find out below, in probably the only clitoris article on the Internet that promises not to use the phrase “exquisitely sensitive”.

Does Clitoris Size Matter?

Clitorises are mostly internal; the part of the clitoris that’s submerged within our body is comparable in size to a medium zucchini — but about 1/4 of it is visible externally, with the average adult clitoris size 1.5-2 cm in length, and a little bit under 1 cm in width. While it hardly seems like size would matter, a recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine actually found that many women who had rarely or never had an orgasm had clitorises that ran on the smaller side, independent of their body size or other factors. Dr. Susan Oakley, the researcher who conducted the study, speculated that the greater visible mass of a larger clitoris made them easier to orgasm with. “Perhaps a larger clitoris has more nerve endings, and perhaps with direct contact and stimulation the clitoris can have more sensation, resulting in orgasms,” Oakley wrote.

So it’s not that larger clitorises are automatic orgasm machines — there’s just more surface area to work with. So if your clit is on the smaller side, know that it might take you more time/effort/focus for you to have an orgasm than your larger-clitted sisters, but that it’s far from impossible, it just takes a little elbow grease.

Are All Clitorises Located In The Same Spot On Women’s Bodies?

Okay, fine, turns out clitorises are all different sizes. But surely all clitorises are in the same place on our bodies, right? Well, not really — while all clitorises are located at the top of the inner lips of the vagina, your clit’s location in relation to the rest of your sexual anatomy can vary. In fact, the same study that measured the clitoral size of women who had trouble orgasming also measured the distance from their clitorises to their vaginas and found that, on average, their clitorises were 5 to 6mm further apart from their vaginas than women who reported no trouble orgasming. Of course, either way, most women don’t orgasm from penetration alone, and a lot of us can only get off with special, focused attention on our clits. If that’s you, don’t be ashamed, embrace it (and embrace your clitoris, literally. Cliterally? Sorry).

What’s The Deal With Clitoral Hoods?

The clitoral hood is a fold of skin that covers the clitoris and protects it from being aggravated by friction and other hazards of life in your nether regions. But clitoral hoods vary wildly in coverage, though most medical drawings depict women with small clitoral hoods, this (NSFW) chart of clitoral hood variations shows that they run the gamut from barely there, to hoods that cover the full clitoris, and even a bit of the vulva.

I haven’t found much research about how the size of the clitoral hood can affect orgasms, but I can weigh in with one woman’s experience, my own. I have a hood that covers every millimeter of my clitoris, even when I’m wildly turned on, paired with what at least feels like a pretty small clitoris (due to my hood, I have never actually seen it; but I’m pretty sure that it’s in there. Some folks refer to it as a “recessed” clitoris). Throughout my life, this has affected my sex life and my ability to utilize sex tips directed at the “average” woman. I don’t feel very much sense when oral sex is performed on me, and I need a back massager’s worth of pressure to have a manual orgasm when I’m with a partner. But life with my unique clitoral configuration isn’t all drawbacks — the friction between the hood and the clit helps me to orgasm in record time once I get going. So there’s no reason to freak out if your junk doesn’t look like a health textbook drawing or your clit doesn’t respond to things that “everyone” is supposed to like sexually (as I spent many, many years doing). A little experimentation can help you figure out the unique pluses of your specific situation.

Can You Wear Out Your Clitoris?

I’ve definitely put about 10,000 hours into flicking my bean, which technically makes me a Gladwellian genius at it, but it has also occasionally given me pause. Have I worn out my clit? Am I on the road to wearing out my clit? Is that even possible? Thank god, it isn’t, clits don’t go numb from a lifetime of wear and tear or become less sensitive in any way. Actually, aging is only a plus for clitorises, because your clit keeps growing throughout your life. Your clit begins growing at the start of puberty, and by the time you turn 32, your clit is roughly four times the size it was when you hit puberty. (Thanks Mother Nature!) Don’t worry, it won’t, like, start hanging out of the bottom of your shorts or anything. But it might give you a little more surface area to work with, which may also increase your odds of orgasming in any given situation.

Are There Any Non-Sexual Things That Can Help Your Clit Get Ready For Action?

Yup, exercise. Bananas, right? But actually, it makes sense: Clitorises get engorged with blood when you’re aroused, and since exercise stimulates blood flow in the soft tissue, exercise can also help your clitoris become more engorged, and thus more sensitive, if you get turned on soon after exercising. In fact, only 20 minutes of moderate exercise can increase clitoral engorgement by up to 168 percent, and that increase lasts for hours afterward.

Will this be the fact that gets me to the gym for the first time in about a year? Stay tuned and find out folks. Until then: goodnight and good clit.


Copyright © 2018 Mark Darcy All rights reserved

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