Ah yes, the clitoris! Rarely discussed, barely researched, and somewhat of an enigma. You might think the clitoris is just that little knobbly bit above the opening of your vagina, but it’s so much more than that. According to Scientific American, the clitoris is a bit like an iceberg, with around 90% of its mass thought to be below the surface. There are clitoral bulbs inside, arms that reach as far as 9cm into the pelvis, and an estimated 8,000 nerve endings, which FYI, is 2-3 times as many as the penis has. Let’s take a closer look at this majestic organ!
You may have heard it referred to as the clit, the bean, the button, or if you’re from the 1500s, the devil’s teat. Charming. Nobody knew much about the clitoris in the old days, as most research on reproductive organs was conducted on the penis. Nowadays we know the clitoris is made up of two ‘corpora cavernosa’, which function as erectile tissue, just like you would find in the penis. It is covered by thin skin and a hood, and packed with sensory nerves and receptors. The clitoris starts off small, and grows larger during puberty. When a person is sexually aroused, it becomes engorged, similar to the penis.
Everyone’s vulva looks different, so you may want to get up close with a hand mirror to explore your own, however as a general rule, there’s usually a flap of skin above the labia, called the clitoral hood. It’s basically a bit of skin that folds over to protect the clitoris (Shall I compare thee to a penis? Kind of like a foreskin). A lot of women worry that their clitoral hood looks ‘weird’ in some way. Maybe it seems too big, too long, or something else, but the fact of the matter is the clitoral hood can be absolutely any shape, size and colour, so don’t worry that yours isn’t ‘normal’ - it is. If you’re really worried, a visit to your GP or GUM clinic should put your mind at ease.
If you have insecurities about your clitoral hood, you may find our interview with vulva cast artist Lydia Reeves interesting - read it here!
The word ‘vulva’ encompasses all of the external female genital organs, including the labia minora, which form an oval shape around the vagina, and the labia majora, which form the outer part of the oval (the bit where pubic hair grows). You’ll find the clitoris at the point where the labia majora meet, near the pubic bone. If you find yourself playing hide and seek with your clitoris, that’s OK. Sometimes it can take a while to become comfortable and knowledgeable about your own vulva. Go forth and explore!
Ah, the big question! The road to orgasm is just one of those things that’s incredibly personal to each person. Everyone has different things that stimulate their erogenous zones, different wants and desires, different things that ‘get you off’. It comes down to learning about your body, and doing some experimenting if you feel comfortable.
Here are a few ideas:
It’s all about what feels good to you, so experiment with your body and find what works.
For most, even if it takes a while to figure out what works for you, an orgasm is achievable, but there is such a thing as anorgasmia, which is the medical term for when someone has regular difficulty reaching orgasm. There’s no need to worry about a lack of orgasms in a medical sense, but it can be both frustrating for the person and cause strain on a sexual relationship with a partner.
According to the NHS, around 10% of women have never had an orgasm, either with a partner or during masturbation, so you’re not alone. Reasons why this might be happening include; worrying during sex, pain or discomfort, past sexual trauma, hormonal changes, or medications - for example, some antidepressants can affect the ability to achieve arousal or orgasm.2 If you are unable to reach orgasm, don’t be afraid to find out why. Speak to a medical professional who can advise on the best course of action.
There is so much still unknown about the clitoris, but getting to know your own is important. Why? Well we couldn’t have put it better than Maria Røsok in this TED Talk called ‘The unknown greatness of the clitoris’. She says:
“We know that good and mature sexual health is a roadmap to good mental and physical health, not to mention all the joy and pleasure it brings.”
Curious about the clitoris? If we don’t have the answer, we’ll consult the clit-erature and get back to you! Chat to us over at our private Facebook group or drop us a note on Insta @itsyoppie. Don't forget that our personalised period subscription box can get organic tampons, pads, liners (and more) delivered easily and regularly through your letterbox. That leaves you more time to think about...other things.
1. Jannini EA, Buisson O, Rubio-Casillas A. Beyond the G-spot: clitourethrovaginal complex anatomy in female orgasm. Nat Rev Urol 2014; 11: 531–538.
2. Allahdadi KJ, Tostes RC, Clinton Webb R. Female Sexual Dysfunction: Therapeutic Options and Experimental Challenges.
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