Clitoral Stimulation: A Quick Resource Guide

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The clitoris is a wonderfully mysterious thing. Like an iceberg, the majority of its structure is hidden within the body. But, according to research published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, clitoral stimulation plays an important part in sexual pleasure and orgasm. 


With that importance in mind, let’s take a deep dive into the world of clitoral stimulation. 


What is the Purpose of a Clitoris?

According to Medical News Today, providing sexual pleasure is the only known purpose of the clitoris. Because medical practitioners didn’t know what the clitoris did, it wasn’t included in the 1948 edition of Gray’s Anatomy, a classic medical textbook. The clitoris was added back into Gray’s Anatomy in the 28th Edition in 1966. 


According to a November 2019 review by Clinical Anatomy, the clitoris is important for reproduction purposes. This review states that clitoral stimulation triggers a response in the brain that leads to bodily responses. According to their research, when the clitoris is stimulated, blood flow is increased to the vagina and genital area, in turn increasing natural vaginal lubrication, oxygen and temperature. But the most important activation is that of positioning the cervix so that it's ready to receive semen. 


Whether the clitoris is responsible for pleasure or for reproduction, one thing is clear—stimulating it is most often incredibly enjoyable. 


Clitoral Anatomy for Targeted Arousal  

The journal Studies in Gender and Sexuality states that the anatomy of the clitoris is much larger than believed. 

The clitoris wasn’t seen in its entirety until January 2008 when Odile Buisson MD, Pierre Foldes MD, and Bernard-Jean Paniel MHD published their results of Sonography of the Clitoris–the first time a 3D image of the clitoris as a whole was viewed. By 2016 a French researcher, Odile Fillod, created an open source 3D printable model of the clitoris that anyone with access to a three-dimensional printer can create for themselves. 

According to a study by International Scholarly Research: Obstetrics and Gynecology published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the clitoris, or clitoral complex, consists of the external glans and two internal “arcs” that surround the lateral walls of the vaginal canal. The clit is formed of erectile tissue that is responsive to stimulation. 

Because the external glans, or tip, of the clitoris can be accessed for arousal, let’s focus on it specifically. This external tip of the clitoris is home to 8,000 nerve endings in four quadrants. The four quadrants of the clit are located under the clitoral hood. For many women, the upper left quadrant seems to be the most sensitive, for others, the upper right

To explore all four of the clitoral quadrants and their pleasure possibilities, I suggest exploring with sex toys that feature a pinpoint tip that can specifically direct vibrations. Pleasure products with pinpoint tips can also be used for direct clitoral stimulation. Being able to target arousal may lead to stronger clitoral-based orgasms.


Clitoral Stimulation Feels Good 

A 2017 study shared that 36 percent of women stated orgasms felt better when they were accompanied by clitoral stimulation during penetrative sex.


Another study stated that over 75 percent of women reported they preferred to be touched in a rhythmic motion around the clit and that light to medium pressure was best. To specifically explore the area around the tip of the clitoris, consider sex toys that offer suction or air pulse stimulation. 


That same study reported that there are also popular preferences when it comes to touching the clitoris. 64 percent reported an up and down motion as being their favorite, while almost half preferred circular movements. There are pleasure products made to offer circular stimulation, as well as toys that are designed like a tongue to provide up and down movements


Keep in mind, the clitoris may be extremely sensitive and everyone reacts differently to stimulation. For some, direct stimulation may be too intense. Perhaps experimenting with clitoral stimulators that are a bit larger and can arouse the entire external area with gentle vibration may be a good place to start. Panty vibrators that cup this intimate region more broadly are sex toys to consider. 


Every Body is Unique

The clitoris can vary in size and shape. Some clits are hidden under the clitoral hood, others stick out. Some respond to soft pressure, while others need more vigorous stimulation to encourage a response. 


I suggest taking your time to explore your own body and find out what type of clitoral stimulation feels good to you. The origin of the word ‘clitoris’ comes from the Greek word for ‘key’—exploring the clitoris for yourself may just be the key to your own source of pleasure and sexual satisfaction. 

Do you take time to explore your body and its pleasure possibilities? Would you like to experiment more with sex toys? Please send me your questions and comments. I’m always here to help you.

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Dr. Sunny Rodgers is a clinician, author, and speaker who has worked in the wellness industry since 2000. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, a Master of Arts in Clinical Sexology, and is an accredited Sexual Health Educator. She is the Founder of The Institute of Intimate Health, an Ambassador for the American Sexual Health Association, regular lecturer for the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Sexual Confidence Coach for the Marigold App, and a professional Sex Toy Concierge™. Rodgers hosted a popular weekly show on Playboy Radio, has been an expert guest on several TV and radio programs, and is a regular contributor to HuffPost, Men's Health, Cosmo, Bustle, and many more publications.