The Clitoris: What Is It, Where Is It & How To Stimulate It

When it comes to the female orgasm, the clitoris reigns supreme. In fact, some women have reported that they can only achieve orgasm through clitoral stimulation.

Dr. Rachel Rubin
Board certified Urologist and assistant clinical professor in Urology
by Dr. Rachel Rubin Last updated 08/18/2022

When it comes to sex, the clitoris (aka “the clit”) is one of, if not the most sensitive and important parts of female sexual pleasure.

Just like the penis, this organ is highly important for the arousal, orgasm, and pleasure.

We’ll look at everything you need to know:

  • What is the clitoris?
  • Where is the clitoris?
  • How do you stimulate the clitoris?

Quick FAQs

The clitoris is located at the top of the vulva, where the inner labia meet. Under the clitoral hood.

The Clitoris is often described as a pea-sized nub that is hidden under what’s called the clitoral hood.

The clitoris is packed with 8000 nerves, so it is important to start slow. Begin by gently licking or rubbing the clitoris. Once the clitoris becomes aroused, you can begin to apply more pressure.

What Is the Clitoris?

The clitoris is a sexual organ riddled with nerve endings that can deliver immense levels of sexual pleasure.

In fact, the clitoris is the "center for orgasmic response" and the most important organ when it comes to female pleasure during sex.

By appearance, the clitoris is a small, rounded nub of flesh that is found at the top of the vulva and beneath the clitoral hood.

Even though the clitoris is often assumed to be only an external part of the genitalia, it is actually made up of several parts that are inside and outside the female body.

While researchers have learned a lot about the clitoris, there is some debate about whether it has anything to do with reproduction.

For the most part, this organ is primarily associated with sexual pleasure.

What Is the Anatomy of the Clitoris?

Clitoral anatomy is far more complicated than most people know. What is visible externally is only a small part of the overall anatomy of this organ.

Let’s take a closer look at the internal and external parts of the clitoris.

External Parts

Glans

The glans clitoris is what most people refer to as the clit or clitoris.

This is the small button of nerve-riddled flesh just beneath the clitoral hood. It’s the same as the head (or glans) or the penis.

Clitoral hood

The clitoral hood is the apex where the labia minora meet.

The clitoris hood creates a "hood" of protective flesh over the glans but also retracts slightly during arousal.

This is the same as the foreskin of an uncircumcised penis.

Internal Parts

Corpora (body)

Just behind the glans are the corpora of the clitoris—the corpora body branches into two "legs" after extending downward toward the vaginal opening.

Crura

The two branches that stem from the corpora are known as crura.

The two legs form an almost "V" shape like the open end of a wishbone, reaching from the urethra and vaginal canal.

Clitoral (vestibular) bulbs

The vestibular bulbs engorge with blood during arousal.

These two bulbs are situated between the vaginal wall and crura, and the added pressure on the clitoris during engorgement is thought to offer pleasurable sensations.

Root 

The clitoral root is described as the point where the rest of the clitoral structures meet.

This is located at the joining point of the crura.

Where Is the Clitoris?

Learning how to find the clitoris will make all the difference in sexual encounters and self-pleasure endeavors. 

So, where is it?

The clitoris is located at the apex of the labia, just under the small hood of flesh in that area.

The clitoris may not even be visible when looking at female genitalia because it is so protected by the surrounding labial lips and the clitoral hood.

It may be necessary to gently press the clitoral hood upward and the lips apart to find the sensitive nub of flesh.

Of course, this can also vary depending on the exact anatomy of the female and how her body is shaped and feels.

For the purpose of sexual stimulation, it is the glans of the clitoris (little pea-sized button of flesh) that is most important.

What Does the Clitoris Look Like?

The external clitoris looks a bit like a tiny closed flower bud or a pea. 

The little nub is nestled beneath the clitoral hood and often surrounded by the inner vaginal lips, which look like wrinkled skin flaps.

As far as the full internal and external clitoris anatomy, the shape looks a bit like a wishbone, with the tip being the glans and the opened prongs being the crura.

The shape has also been described as an inverted flower.

How big is the clitoris?

The glans of the clitoris are about 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter, but the size can also vary depending on the individual.

The full clitoris, from the internal crura that runs down the vaginal wall to the glans, can be over four inches long.

What’s the Difference Between the Clitoris and the G Spot?

The clitoris may be a bit mysterious in terms of its full makeup and function, but it is nowhere near as elusive as the G-spot.

The G-spot (Grafenberg spot) is fully inside the vagina. In contrast to the clitoris, the G-spot is not so easy to point out.

Some women claim that this is a spot inside the front of the vaginal wall that induces orgasmic or pleasurable sensations with applied pressure during sex.

In some studies, researchers have not been able to find physical evidence of a specific spot.

This doesn't technically mean that the G-spot isn't real, only that the anatomical evidence is lacking.

The most recent theory is that the G-spot is actually an entire zone of pleasure called “the G-zone." This area is thought to be comprised of 5 different anatomic areas that provide pleasure to many women.

These five areas are:

  • The clitoral crura
  • The clitoral bulb
  • The ‘prostate’ (also called Skene’s gland)
  • The urethra
  • The anterior vaginal wall

How to Stimulate Your Clitoris

Once the clitoris location is found, learning how to stimulate it for pleasure is an important step if you have never achieved an orgasm.

A lot of women enjoy clitoral stimulation during masturbation, some even more so than actual penetration.

1. Start Slow

Clitoral stimulation tends to feel best with an ample amount of lubrication, especially with direct contact.

Apply a generous amount of lube to the fingers and slowly massage around the clitoral area.

Try different finger movements and pressure applications, such as 

  • light tapping
  • circular movements
  • up and down caresses

Try to avoid too much stimulation too soon.

Stimulating the clitoris feels better with a heightened state of arousal.

If you are having trouble getting aroused, consider using just a bit of warming female arousal gel from Promescent.

2. Use a Soft Touch

Instead of diving right in and touching the external clitoris, try a little indirect pressure first.

For example, try applying pressure to the area in small circles while the clitoris is hidden beneath the labia or clitoral hood.

As you get more aroused, more direct stimulation may become more comfortable.

Use gentle strokes and pressure, and listen to your body. When it feels like you can handle more speed or pressure, give your body what it wants.

3. Explore Different Techniques

Clitoral stimulation techniques can deliver different pleasure experiences, and what feels best can be completely a matter of opinion. 

Don't be afraid to explore the clitoris and all the ways to stimulate this pleasure point.

A few ideas include:

  • Grinding the clitoris against a soft surface
  • Lightly pinching the clitoral hood around the clitoris or tugging the surrounding skin gently
  • Sliding a wet finger or toy across the clitoris
  • Spraying the clitoris with a water jet from a shower head

4. Try a Sex Toy

Sex toys can be great for added clitoral stimulation, and some are actually designed specifically for external clitoral stimulation.

Vibrators can be a good option for either direct or indirect clitoral stimulation.

And some sex toys like the Shine Clitoral Vibrator offer gentle suction that can be used to encourage blood flow to the area and deliver sensations similar to oral sex.

5. Play with Internal Clitoral Stimulation

Since the clitoris actually extends into the vaginal canal, penetration play may yield added stimulation.

Consider combining external clitoral stimulation with a bit of internal stimulation by inserting your fingers or a sex toy while exploring.

How to Stimulate Your Partner's Clitoris

If your partner has a clitoris, the more you know about how they prefer clitoral stimulation can make a huge difference in how much gratification you deliver.

Familiarize yourself with how to find the clitoris and how to rub it in a way that won't cause discomfort (the above tips are a good starting point).

Below are a few other pointers to keep in mind along the way.

1. Ask for Pointers

Don't be afraid to ask for guidance—there is no better way to learn what your partner likes than by them showing or telling you.

Frame questions and statements in a way that provokes a response from your partner, such as:

  • Do you like this or this better?
  • Do you enjoy this pressure or speed, or do you want it faster/slower/softer/harder?
  • Show me how to rub the clitoris the way you like it

2. Try Clitoral-Stimulating Positions

Certain sex positions are better for clitoral stimulation than others.

For example, the pubic mound and the thighs are good to use for clitoris stimulation during sex, which naturally makes certain positions like the missionary and rider more effective.

Positions that give you direct access to your partner's clitoris with your hands are also good choices.

3. Bring in Props for Grinding

If your partner prefers indirect clitoral stimulation, grinding may be something to consider. Grab a pillow or rolled-up blanket and place it under their pubic bone.

They can grind to get enough clitoral pressure while you penetrate from the opposite angle. This can work well for doggy style or spooning sexual positions.

4. Incorporate a Sex Toy

If your hands are busy elsewhere, consider handing a vibrator over to your partner.

They can self-stimulate while you penetrate.

Some penis rings also offer built-in clitoral stimulators that protrude up from the penis to offer vibrating action right where your partner needs it.

5. Try Oral Stimulation

Some clitoris-owners prefer oral stimulation of the clitoris over finger play because the tongue is naturally soft, wet, and gentle.

If your partner enjoys oral, try gently circling the clitoris with the tongue. 

Be sure to try a mix of pressure applications and see how your partner responds to let you know what they like the best.

6. Mix It Up

Switching the direction of rubbing, changing the rhythm, or even altering the speed of stimulation is a good way to explore what your partner likes best.

Therefore, don't hesitate to try a few different techniques during a sexual encounter. 

Plus, altering the technique or switching between external and internal stimulation is a good way to prolong the sexual experience and add variety.

Takeaways

While the clitoris is not completely understood when it comes to sexual function, there is no question that it serves a big purpose when it comes to sexual pleasure.

Even though the visible clitoris is a small button of sensitive flesh, the entire organ is far more impressive with both internal and external components.

Delivering stimulation to the clitoris can be a matter of preference.

Indirect and direct pressure and touch are both something to try, and the more familiarity grows, the more pleasurable playing with the clitoris can be.

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Dr. Rachel Rubin

Dr. Rachel Rubin

Dr. Rachel S. Rubin is a board-certified Urologist with fellowship training in sexual medicine. She is an assistant clinical professor in Urology at Georgetown University and practices at IntimMedicine Specialists in Washington DC. Dr. Rubin provides comprehensive sexual medicine care to all genders. She treats issues such as pelvic pain, menopause, erectile dysfunction, and low libido. Dr. Rubin is currently the education chair for the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH) and an associate editor for the journal Sexual Medicine Reviews. Dr. Rubin has fellowship designation from both ISSWSH and the Sexual Medicine Society of North America (SMSNA).

Sources:

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The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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