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The Clitoris and Pleasure: What You Should Know

By , 18, Staff Writer Originally Published: November 6, 2017 Revised: November 7, 2019

Have you ever wondered where the clitoris is? Or if the G-spot really exists? What is the deal with female anatomy and pleasure? Answers to these questions are not always straightforward. Hopefully some of the facts I am about to dish out can help you understand female anatomy and pleasing yourself or your partner.

Anatomy Is Not Identity

While this story is about clitorises, G-spots and pleasure, there are people who identify as female who have penises—just as there are some people who have vulvas and vaginas who may not identify as female. Having a vagina, vulva, clitoris or uterus does not make you any more of a woman, nor are they necessary parts in finding someone to have a fulfilling relationship with. What’s important is educating yourself about your body, regardless of your gender identity.

If you identify as a girl, it’s easy to feel like your sole role in sex is to please others instead of feeling pleasure. But, if you are familiar with your own anatomy and what feels good to you, then you are in a better position to communicate with your partner about what you like as well as boundaries and safer sex. Read on to learn more about clitorises, G-spots and pleasure.

More Than Meets the Eye

When a fetus is starting to develop, the tissue that becomes the clitoris and penis is identical. Later in fetal development, these organs begin to differentiate themselves into the clitoris and penis. The clitoris is an organ whose sole purpose is sexual pleasure.

It’s empowering to understand your anatomy because you alone have ownership of your mind and body.

The clitoris can be difficult to find if you’re not familiar with the anatomy of the vulva—or the external genitals, including the labia and vaginal opening. The external portion of the clitoris is called the glans. It’s at the top of the vulva, just above the urethra. The glans of the clitoris looks like a smooth ball of pink flesh and is hidden by a hood of skin when a person is not aroused. As a hotspot of sensitivity, many people find that they need the clitoris to be stimulated in order to have an orgasm. Many people with vulvas don’t need any penetration to feel pleasure.

What a lot of people don’t know is that the part of the clitoris that you see (the glans) is nowhere near the whole picture. The clitoris actually extends inside the body and branches into a wishbone shape. It wasn’t until 1998 that Helen O’Connell published her groundbreaking research that explored the internal portion of the clitoris.

Since the clitoris contains concentrated areas of nerves, it is an area that can provide intense sexual pleasure. (The clitoris has at least twice as many nerve endings as a penis, which is pretty impressive considering how little attention it often gets.) Still, it’s important to remember that our whole body is covered in nerve endings. It may be any combination of our senses that leads to the types of feelings we want for ourselves or our partners. Plus, all bodies are different. Since no clitoris is the same as another, what feels good to someone is dependent on the individual. Essentially, different strokes for different folks.

The G-Spot or Not?

The G-spot is named after Dr. Ernst Gräfenberg, who discussed it in his research and also developed the first modern intrauterine device or IUD. Scientists have been wracking their brains over the G-spot for decades, and debates about it continue today. Some believe that the G-spot is a point two to three inches up the internal front wall of the vagina that causes pleasure when stimulated. Some researchers believe that the G-spot is a portion of the clitoris’ tissue that extends into the vagina, while some speculate that the G-spot is really just a cluster of nerves known as Skene’s glands. Since some women exhibit no sensitivity in this area while others experience a lot, debates about the existence of the G-spot are kind of like debates about whether or not that dress on the internet a few years ago was white and gold or black and blue.

I like to think that when it comes to sexuality, maybe it’s best that there is no concrete answer as to what the G-spot is because it reminds me that there are no concrete answers to what we find pleasurable or preferable when it comes to sex. What feels good to us is completely individualized because our bodies are each one of a kind. The best way to navigate sex is not by looking for some mystical spot, but by acting safely and in tune with ourselves, just as we navigate through most of our lives.

Be Your Own Expert

Whether or not you’ve had sex, everyone is unique. There is no such thing as someone who is your “pleasure expert”—even the most experienced individual has not seen it all. You are the expert on yourself and what you like. The only way to figure out pleasure is to communicate and experiment with yourself and your partner. Knowing about yourself and understanding your anatomy is important. It’s empowering to understand your anatomy because you alone have ownership of your mind and body. Knowing your body can also make it easier to talk with your partner about what you do or don’t like. You get to determine what feels right.

You also get to define what sex looks like. Sex is so much more than a means to an end. It’s more than reproduction and having an orgasm. Sex, in many ways, is about exploring without the fear of judgment or shame in the presence of another person. Clitorises and vaginas are amazing, but they aren’t that complex. It is people that are complex, and there is a lot of beauty in that.

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