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Cliteracy Matters: Everything You Need to Know About the Clitoris

May 12, 2022

Sexual Health|

It’s remarkable that, even in 2022, there’s still so much about female anatomy that we don’t talk about. 

Despite an ongoing push for sex education and sex positivity in recent years, several misconceptions and inequities have clouded women’s pleasure with mystery. 

In the new Netflix limited series The Principles of Pleasure, narrator and comedian Michelle Buteau educate viewers on a controversial topic: women’s pleasure and its myths and complexities.

Most of us, for example, are probably unaware that our clitoris is much more than just the little rosebud-shaped knob at the apex of our labia. 

Yet, in reality, that little love button is only the tip of an exceptionally complex iceberg. So, it’s no surprise that, up until recently, not a lot was understood about the clitoris. In fact, research from the late 1990s (yes, you read that correctly!) is responsible for most of our knowledge about the clitoris. 

The clitoris’ identical makeup to the penis was unknown to the medical community until—surprise, surprise—a female urologist called Helen O’Connell discovered it while dissecting cadavers, and in 1998, she published her work in The Anatomy of the Clitoris.

Although most women were undoubtedly aware that their lady parts were a source of pleasure long before science caught up, physicians and scientists thought the clit was a straightforward piece of anatomy!

The general belief was that the clitoris was solely composed of an external bundle, with nothing visible beneath. It wasn’t until MRAs of the clitoris were completed that its deeper, interior anatomy was discovered. Furthermore, the first 3-D sonography of the clitoris occurred in 2008.  

Buisson and Foldès were two leading researchers who paved the way to uncovering its entire structure, employing sonograms to record its mobility, sensitivity, and appearance.

Despite the fact that about half of the world’s population is born with a clitoris, this sexual organ is rarely discussed. So, what do we know about this enigmatic organ, and why are we still baffled by it?

Continue reading to find out.

What is the clitoris?

It’s a common misconception that the clitoris exists as a tiny, pea-sized nub found solely on the body’s exterior. In reality, the clitoris is much more than what the eye can see.

A sprawling organ found within the vulva; the clitoris serves only a single purpose: pleasure. Its only purpose is to make people with clitorises feel good, and it is, in fact, the only organ in the human body that is exclusively geared for pleasure

Stimulating the clitoris can result in an orgasm, and some persons with clits can even experience multiple orgasms in a short period.

the clitoris

The anatomy of the clit is what makes it lit! 

The vast portion of the clitoris is not typically visible. The clitoris comprises an external circular mass of glans and bulbous internal extensions (known as vestibular bulbs) and internal winglike extensions (called the corpus cavernosum). 

The vestibular bulbs go through and behind the labia, traveling via the urethra, vaginal canal, and anus.

The part of the clitoris you can’t see…

The clit’s longest total length (from glans to the end of one crus) is reported to be 7-11 cm long (about 2.75-4.3 inches). A sonogram image of the clitoris resembles an upside-down Y, but it has two sets of “arms.”  The clitoris continues inside the body, allowing for clitoral stimulation through the vaginal wall and other areas of the vulva.  

The clitoris contains over 8,000 nerve endings and is formed of the same erectile tissue as the penis—it even fills with blood and becomes engorged when stimulated, just like a penis. 

But it’s not only the visible area of the clit that reacts when you’re aroused. The whole clitoral complex, including the internal wings, will become engorged and enlarged with stimulation

This increases lubrication in the vagina while boosting sexual excitement and feeling by swelling on each side of the vaginal canal. This clitoral tissue growth can also cause pressure to be delivered to the front of the vaginal canal.

The part of the clitoris you can see…

The exterior component of the clitoris is probably the most well-known to you (if you aren’t familiar with it, you should discover it right away).

Above the vaginal opening lies the glans clitoris, which is the name of the clitoris’s exterior part (what most people refer to as the “clitoris.” ) It’s roughly the size of a pea and sits above the urethra. The glans is exceptionally sensitive to touch because it is the most densely innervated portion of the clitoris.

The clitoral hood is formed by the two sides of the connected labia minora and is located just above or on top of the glans. Clitoral hoods differ in size and coverage from person to person.

Sebum is a lubricant produced by glands in the clitoral hood. This allows the hood to glide easily over the clitoris’s glans and shaft. The clitoral hood exists to shield this delicate tissue from overstimulation and external irritants.


How to explore and stimulate the clitoris

Sit on the floor in front of a mirror, with your knees drawn up to your chest and shoulder-width apart. In this posture, your vulva will be pointing outward, making it easier to view in the mirror. 

Spread your labia gently with your fingertips. You may see a smooth-skinned nub at the apex of your vulva with some additional skin covering it. Your clitoral hood is the extra skin, and the nub is the glans clitoris.

Don’t worry if you can’t see your clit that way! When there is no physical arousal, some persons may have a more difficult time identifying their glans clitoris. 

The glans isn’t densely packed with erectile tissue, but the clitoral body is, and engorging the rest of the clitoris can make the glans “stand up” a bit more noticeably.

There are a few things you can do to increase your level of physical arousal:

  • Reading or listening to erotica
  • Playing with your nipples 
  • Watching porn
  • Making use of clitoral stimulating gel or liquid
  • Using a vibrator on your clit
  • Massaging your labia with your hands

After taking a basic inventory of your vulva’s various components, use your hands (and lubricant!) to experiment with what sorts of touch feel good to you and what places feel best to stimulate. Keep in mind that the clit is much more than simply the glans!

  • Use lubricated fingertips to stimulate the clitoral glans. Try drawing little circles or ovals around your clit, moving your fingers up and down, or softly stroking your fingers side to side. Experiment with the pace, pattern, and pressure to see what feels right for you.
  • Apply pressure to the point where your labia majora connects to stimulate your clitoral body (just under your pubic mound). Try rubbing that region up and down or giving pulsing pressure to a single point. You can also do this with a pulsating toy!
  • To stimulate your clitoral root, use lubricated fingertips and a light touch on your vulvar vestibule, which is located between your clitoral glans and the urethra.
  • Apply massaging pressure to your labia majora to stimulate the clitoral crura. Check to see if you naturally lean toward one side or if you prefer to apply equal pressure to both labia.
  • To stimulate the clitoral bulbs, first, rub the opening of your vagina with your lubricated fingers. Feel how it feels to enter your vagina with your fingers, starting with one finger and then adding more as you feel comfortable. You may also experiment with a dildo or internal vibrator

When stimulating the bulbs, keep in mind that the lower portion of the vagina will have the greatest touch with the bulbs. Girth is going to have the most influence here!

Learn to love your clit

No portion of the clit is fundamentally “better” than any other section, so ignore the voices in your brain that say, “You should do it this way, not like that.” The only correct approach is the one that feels right to you! 

So gather your tools, get comfy, and enjoy exploring the one region of your body that is created to make you feel like the goddess you are ❤️

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