Are You Curious About the Clitoris?

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Many women and men are curious about a woman's clitoris - after all, it is sometimes described as a woman's "pleasure center."

Many women and men are curious about a woman’s clitoris – after all, it is sometimes described as a woman’s “pleasure center” and has a known link to female orgasm.

In teaching human sexuality classes here at Indiana University, quite a few students have asked me whether just touching the clitoris will result in orgasm (the answer is no, as it’s not a magic “spot”).

No “Correct” Way

Others wonder what the “correct” way to touch or stimulate the clitoris may be, but like other sexual activities there is no one specific “right” way to stimulate a woman’s clitoris. Some women enjoy oral (mouth) stimulation of their clitoris (e.g., cunnilingus). Other women enjoy hand stimulation (either their own or their partner’s fingers or hands) or stimulation with a vibrating sex toy.

The clitoris can also be stimulated during vaginal intercourse. In part, this is because the clitoris is larger than it appears. The part that one can see from looking at a woman’s external genitals (the vulva) is only a small part of the clitoris, called the glans clitoris (like the head of a man’s penis is called the glans).

The glans clitoris is often about 1/4 to 1/2 inch long (visibly) but inside a woman’s body, the clitoris extends backward into two branches called “crura” that are each about 3 to 3 1/2 inches in length.

As such, you can imagine how various intercourse positions might stimulate the clitoris directly (by rubbing against the glans clitoris) or indirectly (through intercourse). The above diagram illustrates the size and shape of the larger clitoral body (click on the above image to see it larger).

Learn More

To learn more about the clitoris, you might be interested in reading The V Book: A Doctor’s Guide to Complete Vulvovaginal Health or The Clitoral Truth.

Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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