The clitoris has been the subject of bad jokes, Broadway plays, art installations, Ted Talks, and countless Cosmo articles.
Yet the clitoris is still, in large part, disregarded by scientists. According to The sole function of the clitoris is female orgasm. Is that why it’s ignored by medical science? by Calla Wahlquist for The Guardian, “The first comprehensive anatomical study of the clitoris was led by [Professor Helen] O’Connell and published in 1998.” To put that into perspective, we started studying the clitoris twenty-five years after the first ever cell phone came out. It wasn’t until 2005 that the clitoris was studied by MRI. Since then, further research is sparse.
Often compared to various flowers, the clitoris functions a lot like the penis. It swells when it’s aroused. It has glans, a foreskin – a.k.a. the clitoral hood – and a shaft. Although it is made up of the same things as a penis, its purpose is unique: the clitoris exists purely for pleasure. Unaroused, a clitoris could be as long as 5.5mm, which is why it contributes to both external and internal orgasms. And while the clitoris is still mostly overlooked by science, we’ve decided to focus on something far more empowering—self-pleasure and masturbation.
Explore your body and what makes it feel good with some of our tips below. Protip: what you discover during your self-exploration (both likes and dislikes) can be discussed and integrated into private time with your partner(s).
It’s called “setting the mood” for a reason. Whether you’re going at it solo or with partner(s), make sure you feel comfortable, sexy and safe. Whatever that looks like to you. We recommend an intimate space with warm lighting (Dr. Javaid suggests the candles from Maude that double as massage oil) and wearing what makes you feel good. Attitude is also key. Explore what it is about yourself that turns you on. It could be soft skin, the smell of your favorite bath oil or a sexy selfie in the aforementioned warm lighting.
Now that the vibe has been set. It’s time to introduce your solo sex squad. Toys (these from Dame are Dr. Javaid approved), lubrication (the HerMD team praises the ingredients behind the condom-friendly überlube), and time. Go slow. Remember to breathe. And as cliche, as it sounds, have fun. Savor each moment and, when in doubt, use your lube lifeline. Discover each zone while looking at yourself in a mirror (this one from Ohnut is the first of its kind) to expand the understanding of your anatomy and arousal.
Once you have found a rhythm that works for you, put it on repeat. Check in with yourself. Follow what feels good and shift what doesn’t. If you have an audience, use your words. Exist in the moment. Remind yourself the end goal isn’t orgasm. It’s self-discovery. It’s pleasure. Be patient. Be kind. Be curious.
The World Health Organization put it perfectly, “sexual health is fundamental to the overall health and well-being of individuals, couples and families, and to the social and economic development of communities and countries.” That rings especially true to those with a clitoris. Outside of the many physical and mental benefits of an orgasm, it deserves to be studied and discussed simply because it feels good to half of the Earth’s population. Why else would the origins of the word clitoris mean “to rub”? Let’s make up for lost time and begin stimulating some of your 8,000 nerve endings.
Cliteracy Ted Talk by Sophia Wallace
Anatomical Relationship Between Urethra and Clitoris by The Journal of Urology