Imagine a body organ that was created with no other purpose than to provide intense physical pleasure. Such an organ exists, every female has one, and it’s called the clitoris.
The word “clitoris” is from the Greek word “kleitoris” meaning “hidden.” It is so named because it is a small (3/4 to 1.5 inches, or 2 to 3 centimeters), fleshy protrusion in the upper portion of the labia minora covered by a “clitoral hood.” The clitoris is actually derived from the same tissue as the penis. Unlike the penis—which aside from providing pleasure also has a physiologic function as a conduit for urine—the clitoris has no other function than to provide pleasure. Exquisite, delicious pleasure. Aside from being anatomically hidden, the clitoris is also “hidden,” in that it is a source of mystery to many people, especially men. Many men are largely ignorant of how to treat it, and many can’t even pronounce its name properly (it is pronounced CLIT-or-is).
The myth of female orgasms
The clitoris is an extremely sensitive organ, containing the same number of nerve endings as the much larger male penis, according to Dr. Ruth Westheimer in Sex for Dummies. It is so important in sex that up to 75% of women cannot achieve orgasm without clitoral stimulation, according to Dr. June Reinisch in The Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex.
Because the clitoris is particularly responsive to self-stimulation, many early psychologists, including Sigmund Freud, felt that orgasms produced by clitoral stimulation were “juvenile” or “immature.” Freud felt that orgasms produced by vaginal stimulation were the “mature” or “adult” form and were preferable. Thus began the myth of the “two orgasms”—vaginal and clitoral. We now know that this was incorrect. There is only one physiologic type of female orgasm, although many different sensations may occur depending on types and areas of stimulation. Dr. David Reuben, in Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex: New Edition, refers to this as the “Orgasmic Bill of Rights”: All orgasms are created equal!
Rituals of mutilation
Unfortunately, throughout history there have always been those who equate pleasure with evil. Thus began the practice of “female genital mutilation.” This term refers to any of several “rituals” still practiced in several countries, especially in Africa. These rituals involve cutting, removing, or altering the clitoris in female infants, girls, or adolescents. Formerly referred to as “female circumcision,” the procedure leaves the victim disfigured, scarred, and in permanent pain, especially during menstruation or when attempting intercourse. It should be noted that these rituals are cultural (tribal) rather than religious, and that none of the major religions condone such procedures. The horror of the ritual and the lifetime of pain and physical problems that follow it are vividly described by Somali supermodel Waris Dirie in her new book Desert Flower.
Both the United Nations and the World Health Organization condemn the practice of female genital mutilation. In addition, a recent article in the journal Pediatrics explains the position of the Committee of Bioethics of the American Academy of Pediatrics in their condemnation of the procedure. It also counsels its members not to perform such procedures if requested by immigrant parents from these countries.
A related form of clitoral self-mutilation is occurring in the U.S. and is known as “clitoral piercing.” Women who have this done claim that it increases sensation in this area. Many attach a CBR (captive bead ring) to the pierced clitoris. This allows easy, frequent self-stimulation. Only one-third of women have clitorises large enough to pierce, according to Paul Joannides in The Guide to Getting it On, and the procedure is potentially dangerous for two reasons. First, such piercing could result in infection. Second, Dr. Reuben warns, scarring could occur, and a scar in the clitoral area could result in a lifetime of pain.
A lesson in stimulation
Although the clitoris is indirectly stimulated during intercourse by its covering sliding back and forth over it, most women also require some direct stimulation to achieve orgasm. How then should a partner treat this hidden organ of pleasure? Very gently.
Dr. Paul Jacobsen in Sexual Success says “the clitoris loves teasing most.” It should be stimulated very carefully, with the fingers, lips, or tongue. In fact, oral stimulation, or “cunnilingus” (from the Latin “cunnus”- vulva, and “lingo”- to lick) is probably the best way to excite the clitoris. Dr. Kenneth Stubbs wrote an entire book, The Clitoral Kiss, on the subject. Although 18 different techniques are described, the most effective is the “clitoral kiss,” which involves a gentle suction of the clitoris.
When asked about clitoral techniques, women are likely to complain that their partners are too rough, too fast or slow, or too impatient. In other words, all women are different. The best way to improve your technique? Ask her. Watch her pleasure herself and follow her lead. Don’t be embarrassed to admit that you have no clue. The pleasures ahead will more than compensate for your awkwardness.
Just remember that the clitoris is a blessing to females that brings much pleasure to their lives. Treat this “hidden organ of pleasure” with respect and gentleness!