July 24, 2008

Q&A: Clitoral Stimulation: Pain, Tickling And Discomfort

A reader asks about clitoral stimulation and the fine lines between tickling, pleasure and pain.

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Question: Whenever I try to stimulate my girlfriend’s clitoris whether orally or with my hand she says it tickles or hurts. I have never experienced anything like this with past relationships. Any suggestions to help her become comfortable with clitoral stimulation?

Absolutely! Even though I’m sure you know that all women are different, it is helpful to be reminded of that sometimes. In spite of your experiences in previous relationships, your current girlfriend is giving you really valuable information about her body and her sexual response that I would encourage you to pay attention to: specifically, she finds that clitoral stimulation with either your mouth or your hand feels ticklish or it hurts.

Not The Same For All Women

Just because the clitoris is a highly sensitive area of a woman’s body does not mean that all women want to have direct sexual stimulation of their clitoris during sex. In fact, it is too much to take for some women. Clitoral stimulation may feel uncomfortable, ticklish, or highly sensitive in ways that make women ask their partner to stop that right now.

It can also vary over time – for example, sometimes a woman may find that direct clitoral stimulation is uncomfortable until she is very highly aroused, and then she can accept it more comfortably and enjoy it. Other women never enjoy direct clitoral stimulation, but may enjoy stimulation of the area around their clitoris, the labia minora or labia majora (also known as the inner and outer vaginal lips), her vaginal canal, or her breasts or neck or inner thighs.

Talk To Her And Try New Things

Consider talking to her sometime when you are not about to have sex or in the middle of sex. Reassure her that you’ve heard her and understand that clitoral stimulation is sometimes uncomfortable for her. You might ask her what types of stimulation feel good, or what types of stimulation she’d be open to trying.

Some couples make it a sort of “sex game” to try different types of stimulation using one’s hands, mouth or even toys, and then trying different paces, rhythms, and pressures (E.g., soft vs. firmer pressure with one’s tongue, or slow lick vs. fast flicks). If you frame the experience as about pleasure, rather than trying to reach orgasm together, you can open yourselves to a range of experiences, knowing that it doesn’t have to “end” a certain way and that the only success is learning more about each other’s bodies, rather than focusing exclusively on orgasm.

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