The clitoral complex, sexual stimulation, and 10 tips from a sex therapist
Understanding how to effectively stimulate the clitoris can be a great place to better understand your body, and sexual needs. Many people find it difficult to know exactly what we need from lovers, but with a little exploration you can find out!
The Clitoral Complex
The clitoris is a structure that is a part of the vulva, and plays a vital role in sexual pleasure. It is located above the vaginal opening and urethra, covered by the clitoral hood which is where the top of the two inner labia meet.
The clitoris is not some pea-sized spot to rub. It is an entire structure, 90% of which is internal, and full of nerve endings. The entire structure of the clitoris (internal and external) can be anywhere between 9-15 centimeters in length.
The clitoral complex includes the following structures:
- The clitoral glans- the external part we can see. This can vary in shape due to how much the clitoral glans protrudes. The glans holds around 8000 nerve endings, making it highly sensitive.
- The clitoral body- which hooks down toward the vaginal canal.
- The clitoral crura- or the ‘legs’ of the clitoris which fork out like a wish bone.
- The vestibular bulb- sit in between the clitoral legs and wrap around the vaginal canal. These are made of the same erectile tissue as the penis.
This means that with stimulation and arousal, this entire structure can expand and grow in shape.
Image sourced from: Clueapp website
Sexual stimulation ultimately facilitates arousal. While rubbing one out can be great stress relief, sometimes it’s worth slowing things down. Exploring erogenous zones can help to facilitate arousal.
Erogenous zones are areas of the body that are particularly sensitive to sensual stimulation.
Primary erogenous zones are areas that contain a dense concentration of nerve endings, and are more sensitive to touch than other body parts. This includes areas of the genitals, anus, perineum, nipples, neck, armpits, mouth, nostrils, navel, ears, and inner thighs.
Secondary erogenous zones are areas of the body that have become erotically sensitive through learning and experience. For example, your partner stroked you gently across your upper back, and tenderly kissed you there during every sexual interaction.
How to stimulate the clitoris
The first thing to note is that all bodies are different. What gets you going, might not get the next person going. There is no one best way to stimulate your clitoris.
Therefore, the most effective way to stimulate it will be unique to you, and will require some exploration.
Here are 10 tips on how to get that process started.
- Masturbation vs. Self pleasure. Masturbation often includes the goal to orgasm, while self-pleasure is a about enjoying pleasurable sensation. If you are exploring, I recommend a self-pleasure mindset to reduce the pressure to orgasm.
- Create sexy contexts. Set the mood for self-pleasure by lighting candles, taking a bath, putting on music, or massaging parts of your body with fragrant oils. This activates your parasympathetic nervous system, and encourages relaxation which is vital to sexual arousal.
- Get to know your body. Take time to look at your body and vulva in a mirror to locate the body parts identified above.
- Pleasure mapping. A go-to exercise in sex therapy, this involves sensually stimulating erogenous zones with a variety of things (hands, toys, fabrics, random objects etc.), in a variety of ways (pace, pressure, rhythm, intensity). I would recommend stimulating anywhere but the clitoris at first.
- Invest in sex toys. If you haven’t already, consider investing in a sex toy designed for solo or partner use. Flexible and bendable toys can be perfect for exploration. You may also want to consider looking for double ended toys designed to stimulate the internal and external parts of the clitoris. When investing in sex toys, look for medical grade soft silicone, and a waterproof toy allows you to explore anywhere, anytime.
- Use fantasy. Whether you want to engage in the use of ethical porn, or audio-erotica, this can be one way to foster sexual arousal.
- Less is more. As you go to stimulate the clitoris, slowly introduce soft, gentle, touch and strokes. Allow yourself to explore what touch feels good for the clitoral glans. You can use circular, tapping, or swiping motions.
- Build the intensity. Introduce more intensity by applying pressure to the clitoris and releasing. You can also pinch, tap, spank, push down on/around the clitoris to explore what feels good as your arousal grows. At this stage it may also feel nice to move the attention away from the clitoris and then come back to it.
- Explore internally. Considering the internal parts of the clitoris wrap around the vaginal canal, it might be helpful to explore internal stimulation. Using your fingers or toys, gently insert into the vagina, and stimulate toward the front side of your body.
- Use lubricant. Consider using lubricant to explore yourself. Remember, if you’re using silicone toys to explore, you will need a water based lubricant. I cannot advocate for lubricants more. It makes everything very fun!
Keep in mind, learning to effectively stimulate the clitoris can take time! Be patient with your body, remove the pressure to orgasm, and focus on enjoying pleasurable sensation. What works for you will be unique, and it’s worth taking the time to explore that.