Clitoris


The clitoris is the female sexual organ found where the labia minora, or inner lips, meet. It consists of a rounded area or head, called the glans, and a longer part, called the shaft, which contains cavernous bodies similar to those of the penis.

The tissue of the inner lips normally covers the shaft of the clitoris, which makes a hood, or prepuce, to protect it. The only directly visible part of the clitoris is the glans, which looks like a small, shiny button.

The size and shape vary considerably among women. It can be seen by gently pushing back the skin of the clitoral hood. There is a high concentration of nerve endings in the clitoris and in the area immediately surrounding it.

The abundance of nerve endings in the clitoris makes it very sensitive to direct or indirect touch or pressure. Stimulation of the clitoral area can be very pleasurable.

Clitoris - The Only Organ Designed for Pleasure

In fact, providing its owner with sexual pleasure is the organ's only known function, and the clitoris is the only organ in either sex with pleasure as its sole function. It has nothing to do with getting pregnant, with menstruation, or with urination.

When a woman becomes sexually aroused, both the glans and the shaft fill with blood and increase in size. The glans can double in diameter. There is no evidence that a larger clitoris means more intense sexual arousal.

As erotic stimulation continues and orgasm approaches, the clitoris becomes less visible as it is covered by the swelling of tissues of the clitoral hood. This swelling is designed to protect the clitoris from direct contact, which, for some women, can be more irritating than pleasurable. It moves out again when the stimulation stops.

After orgasm the clitoris returns to its normal size within about ten minutes because the orgasm leads to a dispersal of the accumulated blood. If the woman doesn't have an orgasm, the blood that has flowed into the clitoris as a result of sexual arousal may remain there, keeping the clitoris engorged for a few hours. Many women find this uncomfortable.

A woman's clitoris can be stimulated through direct or indirect contact. During intercourse the penis does not contact the clitoris directly. The thrusting of the penis in the vagina, regardless of the position used, moves the labia minora, and it is this movement of the lips against the clitoris that usually creates the orgasm.

Direct contact with the clitoris by touching it with a finger, vibrator, or a tongue can cause more discomfort than pleasure for many women. For these women, more general rubbing or licking of the area around the clitoris is likely to feel better. Other women enjoy very intense direct stimulation. There is great variability in sensitivity of the clitoris and each woman.

Copyright 2002 Sinclair Intimacy Institute

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