Possible to enjoy sex after clitoris removed?

Originally Published: December 11, 2009
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Dear Alice,

Do women without a clitoris enjoy sex at all? In certain parts of the world, young girls have their clitoris cut off at the very early parts of their lives for reasons such as relagious customs. Will they enjoy sex?

Dear Reader,

There is no easy answer, since sexual enjoyment varies depending on a person's body, other experiences, and the type genital cutting that occurred. It is estimated that 80 million women worldwide have experienced genital cutting. Removal of the clitoris has been practiced in the United States in the past as a means of "curing" masturbation and it is still practiced in some cases on intersex infants — infants for whom doctors cannot easily assign a male or female gender based on the visible genitals. In addition, there are three primary forms of genital cutting that are practiced around the world for varying cultural or religious reasons:

  • Circumcision, which involves cutting off the clitoral hood.
  • Clitoridectomy, which is the removal of the clitoris itself.
  • Genital infibulation, the most invasive practice, where the clitoris is removed and the labia are cut off. Then both sides of the vulva are scraped raw and stitched up.

These procedures are often done without anesthesia or sterile instruments. In the third procedure, a small opening is left to allow for urination and menstrual flow. The stitching is removed when the girl is married to allow for intercourse, but the physical injury and infection that often results from these procedures can make intercourse painful.

So what does all this mean for orgasm? How individuals experience orgasm varies. For many women, orgasm occurs with clitoral stimulation. There are more nerve endings in the clitoris than in the entire penis and the clitoris's sole function is for pleasure. Removal of the clitoris would eliminate the chance of having this particular type of orgasm. Some women experience orgasms that may be a result of stimulation of the G-Spot, located on the front vaginal wall. Not every woman experiences G-spot orgasms and, depending on the degree of cutting, it is possible a woman would not experience any pleasure or orgasm during sex. In addition to lack of sensation or physical pain due to cutting, an person may experience distress or anxiety about having sex because of trauma or fear of pain.

There are other people who report being able to orgasm from general vaginal stimulation (not G-Spot-specific), labial stimulation, nipple stimulation, and from anal intercourse. A great deal of orgasm is related to our imaginations and our thoughts, as well. So, depending on the woman, the type of cutting procedure, how the genitals healed, and myriad psychological and emotional factors, orgasm and other forms sexual pleasure could be experienced by a woman who has experienced genital cutting. However, it's impossible to determine the likelihood of experiencing pleasure or orgasm for any one person because so many factors play a role.

Alice