Have you ever gotten the message that female pleasure is complex rocket science and too much of a hassle for anyone to really understand? Like this meme I found for example:
Or have you ever heard that it's "normal" for women to fake an orgasm during sex or feel so bored that they're thinking about the grocery list?
It's time to upend the pervasive myth that female pleasure is an unsolvable mystery. So how can we lift the veil on our anatomy and embrace the knowledge of female ecstasy? The answer is simple: we need to know what parts we have, how they work and why they do what they do. Unfortunately this is something many people with vulvas are never fully informed about. While I'd love to go into detail about the wonders of the entire reproductive system, for this post I'm going to focus on the only human organ designed solely for pleasure, the clitoris! Before I jump in I want to make sure we're on the same page, so check out the lovely illustration below and find the clitoris near the top. (disclaimer: this is just one example of a vulva, in reality they come in all sorts of healthy colors, sizes and shapes!)
Do you see it there? That round, pink "button" below the pubic hair? This modest organ is the most sensitive part of the human body with over 8,000 nerve endings! (That's twice as many as the head of the penis). In fact the clitoris and penis have a lot in common, they even develop from the same beginning cells when a fetus is growing in the womb. Both the penis and the clitoris have a head or glans (that's the "button" mentioned above), a foreskin or clitoral hood, and below the surface the clitoris also has a shaft that becomes erect when excited.
What's really awesome is, below the clitoris we can see and touch on the outside, the majority of our clitoris is actually on the inside, waiting to be explored! In other words the clit is like an iceberg. The sensitive clitoral tissue that's inside the body is called the Female Erectile Network (FEN). Just like the penis, the FEN is formed of thousands of tiny blood vessels that fill and swell with arousal. Female and male bodies both have about the same amount of this erectile tissue, one's just easier to see than the other. This is really important information to know considering that a majority of women need some clitoral stimulation in order to achieve orgasm.
You or your partner may have noticed that when you're aroused your vulva "blossoms," and becomes more full and pinkish, red or dark, due to increased blood flow, that is the FEN at work. So how can we access this network and enjoy it to it's greatest potential? First we need to know how to find it and that means going beyond the clitoris we can see. You may want to find some privacy and follow along with the "guided tour" from here. :)
The Clit: First orient yourself one more time to the clitoris most people are familiar with, the glans near the top. Notice if you go a little bit above that there is the shaft that branches out into the dark pink clitoral legs, in this picture they're called the crus or sometimes, crura (fun side note, penises have "legs" too! You can see them in the comparative anatomy picture I shared earlier) These "legs" help to anchor the clitoris to the pubic bone. The shaft and legs of the clitoris can be touched, rubbed and "rolled" through the skin if you follow up just above the head and along the ridge of the pubic bone.
The Bulbs: Next you'll notice there are two "bulbs" of erectile tissue surrounding the vaginal opening. These are called the vestibular bulbs. It's almost like they're giving the vagina a hug. When they become full and erect they create a nice snug cuff for any visitor. :) You can actually find and feel your bulbs when you're turned on through the skin of your outer labia, on either side of your vaginal opening. It can be a nice progression to stimulate the bulbs before making your way to the clit. I encourage you to make sure they're invited to the party. This will also stimulate the bartholin's glands which make natural lubricant. One easy approach is to make a peace sign with two fingers and rub the outer labia from the top down.
The G-Spot AKA The Urethral Sponge: There is also erectile tissue surrounding the urethra aka the "pee tube." This erectile tissue forms a spongy cylinder around the end of the urethra and it is the source of the infamous G-Spot. Mystery solved! To find the G-Spot insert a finger into the vagina and make a "come hither" motion towards the belly button. (PS This is the best spot to stimulate female ejaculation AKA squirting! The fluid comes from two glands tucked into the urethral sponge).
The Perenial Sponge: Now, that clitoris anatomy picture is omitting one crucial part of the Female Erectile Network, the perenial sponge, a little pillow of erectile tissue that connects the bottom of both of the bulbs, which can be found between the vagina and anus. To find this under acknowledged source of pleasure you could do the same "come hither" motion with fingers inside the vagina but instead facing down towards the bottom. This is also a source of excitement and enjoyment with anal play. When aroused and full, the perenial sponge completes the "hug" around the vagina. I would share a nice picture including it but all the complete images I know of are still copyrighted! (Bummer since I believe knowing our whole anatomy is the right of all people!) So you'll have to settle for my own home made drawing instead.
Below is something much fancier, a 3D MRI image of the clitoris from above looking down. The clitoris is yellow. Do you see the bulbs surround the vaginal canal, which is blue?
Wahoo! Now you know the basics of your erectile network and how to get in touch (pun intended) with all of it's parts! Arousing the ENTIRE clitoris, including the Erectile Network is, I would argue, an essential foreplay activity that can make penetration more exciting for both partners. If you're curious to learn more I highly recommend reading "Women's Anatomy of Arousal."
This book is wonderful and has easy to understand explanations on the full range of female sexual anatomy and how to enjoy it to the fullest! It really opened my eyes to the vast amount of knowledge most of us never receive about our sexual wellness and pleasure. It also makes a fun bachelorette party gift. ;) If you're really nerdy and love women's health and detailed anatomical diagrams, check out "A New View of a Woman's Body" This has a lot more specifics and is focused on overall reproductive health, not sex, but it has the best pictures of the clitoris and Female Erectile Network that I've ever been able to find.
If you're not so much into science but love art check out the amazing art work of Sophia Wallace who has decided to take on educating the public about the clitoris, helping everyone to "get cliterate."
I sincerely hope that this information will improve your relationship with your clitoris, increase communication with your sexual partner and lead you to many mind blowing orgasms! Have fun!