Where is the clitoris?
1) Hi Alice,
I have a stupid question. Where is the clitoris located exactly in the female's genitalia? If it differs per woman, what is the easiest way to locate it?
2) Dear Alice,
I really don't know where the clitoris is. I have tried many times to touch my girlfriend's clitoris, but she can't feel anything. Of course, she can't get any feeling from intercourse. What can I do now?
— Searching for the Wild Clitoris
Dear Can't find and Searching for the Wild Clitoris,
The clitoris may be a bit elusive to folks who haven't fully explored their partner's or their own body. Being the only body part to have the sole function of pleasure, it’s no wonder people wish to find it — and there are some insights to improve your seeking skills that are worth sharing. For starters, consider taking a look at a human sexuality textbook, or you can check out these diagrams from Scarleteen to orient yourself to this particular part. But it’s worth considering the journey along with your desired destination; while the clitoris has a lot of clout when it comes to sexual sensations, it may not be the summit of all that sizzles for every body.
As for the location of the clitoris, here are the ins and outs: typically, the place to start will be towards the top of the labia (the outer and inner skin folds), but below the mons pubis (the fatty tissue where pubic hair grows above the pubic bone). This is where a small piece of skin, called the clitoral hood is often found. You might guess what you might find beneath the hood — the glans of the clitoris, which is the external part and the one that is most often stimulated for pleasure. Yes, that’s right — there’s more beneath the surface! The external clitoris is just the tip of a branching interior system of erectile tissue that runs down towards the vaginal opening. This tissue responds to sexual arousal by filling with blood and becoming harder and erect. In turn, the external part of the clitoris will actually swell and retract underneath the clitoral hood — and this process of stimulation and arousal may also aid in its discovery because it may make it more visible. Beyond those who have experienced clitoral mutilation, the size and shape of the clitoris varies amongst folks who have a vulva, although its location remains fairly consistent.
The clitoris is the focus of pleasure sensation for many and may also be what is primarily stimulated to spur an orgasm. Identifying the clitoris may or may not be simple to do by touch, but paying close attention to your (or your partner’s) reactions may help you figure out if you're in the area or touching your partner in ways that they enjoy. If you’re asking about a partner, you might try talking with them about whether they enjoy clitoral stimulation. If they are, they're also likely to be your #1 personal tour guide to this pleasure point. For directions on this scenic route, you might put your partner's hand on top of yours to guide you. Searching for the Wild Clitoris, this may be an opportunity for you both to discover more about each other's likes and dislikes as well as each other's anatomy together. Have fun exploring each other's bodies — and remember that the more you learn is for their pleasure!
After the discovery has occurred, pleasurable stimulation of the clitoris may happen through a number of different modes including (but not limited to) rubbing, sucking, applying pressure, or using a vibrator or a dildo. Again, if partnered contact is being considered, communication is key to voice likes and dislikes. If this joyride is a solo one, pay attention to what feels good and what doesn’t. Although some people like direct touching on the glans of the clitoris, others find it's uncomfortable or too intense. Using a lubricant may ease friction (and add fun for you and your partner), but even still, some folks may find the glans to be too sensitive for direct touch. Further, focusing directly on the clitoris may also cause pleasurable sensations to disappear. So instead, indirect contact by rubbing on one or both sides of the clitoris, or wetting your fingers and rubbing them around and over the clitoris may be the ticket to pleasuretown. Gently rubbing or pulling the clitoris itself, or rubbing the hood or a larger area around the clitoris might also spark sensation. It’s worth it to try different styles and speeds to see what fits the feel-good bill for yourself or a partner.
All of this may lead folks, such as yourself, to the destination they were seeking and some ideas on what they might see and do when they get there. However, it’s also good to keep in mind that no matter where titillations take place on the body (clitoris or elsewhere), it’s the human brain that orchestrates and is responsible for the experience of pleasure and orgasms. So, just as what feels good when stimulating the clitoris varies from person to person, any feel-good vibes derived from stimulating other parts of the body will vary among different folks, too. As such, there's no need to limit yourself to just one focal point. Rather, consider yourself and any partner a painter’s palette for pleasure — one that inspires many options and combinations for body and mind delights. For more ideas on what and where to stimulate, check out the Go Ask Alice! Sexual & Reproductive Health archives, particularly the Genital Wonderings and Orgasms categories.
Originally published Oct 27, 1995
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