The clitoris. A mythical part of the female body whose power, purpose and sometimes even location, still seems to evade both women and men. At Elvie we are all about helping women better understand their bodies - and if we can help some of you have better orgasms in the process then that’s a bonus. So pull up a chair, light a scented candle and get ready for your first cliteracy lesson with the help of Psychosexual Therapist, Kate Moyle.
First things first, let’s make sure we’re familiar with what and where the clitoris is. This may sound like the basics, but with over half of men in a US survey unable to identify the location of the clitoris on a diagram, it seems like it could be needed.
The glans clitoris, to give it its formal title, is the tiny button shaped piece of skin you can find just above the vaginal opening and urethra. On top of this you can usually find the clitoral hood, which is formed at the connection of the two sides of the labia minora. Clitoral hoods vary in size and shape from woman to woman, no one is quite the same.
Many people believe this is the beginning and end of the clitoris’ anatomical story, but they would be wrong. “The full structure of the clitoris extends internally, with the legs extending to a length of nearly 9 cms - it’s hugely important and can be stimulated by penetration” says Kate. The clitoris swells during stimulation and sexual arousal as it is made up of erectile tissue. Within the vagina sexual arousal can increase both lubrication and sensation.
The clitoris is the most sensitive erogenous zone of the female body, and it really is just here for a good time. “The clitoris has 8000, nerve endings and is the only part of the human body that has the sole purpose of giving pleasure” says Kate.
Whilst the clitoris may only have one job, it’s a very important one. As the most sensitive part of a woman's body it is intrinsically linked to female pleasure - with 80% of women in a UK survey claiming they require clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm.
Even women who have a preference for penetrative orgasms could be benefiting from the clitoris’ uber sensitive power, as some researchers believe the G Spot is actually where the legs of the internal clitoris make contact with the vagina’s anterior wall.
There are many ways your partner can stimulate the external area, either during intercourse or foreplay - from clitoral vibrators and oral sex to fingers and any other part of the body you feel like grazing against it!
But there’s also no need to wait for a partner to get up close and personal with your clitoris. Masturbation can be highly satisfying and, Kate believes, is an important part of understanding exactly what kind of stimulation works for you. “Our bodies are all universally similar but individually unique and so it's about learning what you like and what feels good for you.” she tells me. “Self-pleasure is an important part of our self-sex education, sex should be about pleasure and fun but that's something that we don't get taught and we have to work out for ourselves through experience.”
An Orgasm a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
If the prospect of a big dose of dopamine isn’t enough to make you want an orgasm, they are also great for your general health. “An orgasm produces a boost of a mix of neurochemicals which include oxytocin, norepinephrine, vasopressin, prolactin and serotonin which all have individual benefits” says Kate. “They also act to flush out cortisol which is the stress hormone, and boost the immune system as well as promoting better sleep, and being a natural painkiller.”
Orgasms can also have long term effects on your body - and could even save your life. An Israeli study found that women who had at least two orgasms a week were 30% less likely to develop heart disease compared to women who were having zero.
Regular orgasms can also help you look great as well as feel great. Many of the expensive anti-ageing supplements we take in order to maintain a youthful glow contain the hormone DEA. After an orgasm, the levels of DEA in your bloodstream increase to around five times the regular amount, helping to improve your long term complexion.
There are various ways you can make your orgasms more intense and pleasurable, whether you are on your own or with a partner. If clitoral stimulation is your preference, then try some positions where the clitoris is stimulated by your partner’s body or they are able to reach your clitoris with a clitoral vibrator or their hands. Adding lubrication can also increase the intensity of the sensation, and you can even get lubricant specifically created for the clitoris.
Looking after your general health can also help make your orgasms feel even more amazing, especially when it comes to your pelvic floor. “Your pelvic floor can impact sexual pleasure and orgasms as when a woman orgasms, the pelvic floor muscles involuntarily contract producing the orgasmic sensations by the simultaneous rhythmic contractions of the pc muscles.” Kate tells us. “These occur at about 0.8-second intervals, and can be very intense, so the stronger the muscles, the more intense the contraction resulting in a more intense sensation”
Understanding your wants and needs and communicating them with your partner is also key to having mind blowing sex and orgasms. “We have so many hang ups when it comes to sex, and we think that great sex should just happen, but this just isn't the case. - I would really encourage listening to podcasts, ted talks, videos, reading, trying sex toys, attending classes, talks and events - we just shouldn't accept a sex life that doesn't offer us the potential that it could do and there are so many possibilities”. Amen to that, Kate.
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