The Clitoris, Demystified

A man asks Eli and Josie for instructions on how to handle the world’s most mysterious sex organ.

Originally appeared at She Said He Said

Dear Sexes:  The clitoris.  Please demystify.

He Said: Ahhh, the clitoris!!!  Yet another fantastic wonder of the world.

My research tells me that the clitoris is a sexual organ that is present only in female mammals. In humans, the visible, button-like portion is located near the anterior junction of the labia minora, above the opening of the urethra and vagina. The clitoris is the most sensitive erogenous zone of the female. But I’m sure you already knew that.

If you don’t know where it’s located, check out the Wikipedia link, which offers some enlightening photographs.

As a man, my field studies with the clitoris tell me that the pleasuring of this organ depends on the owner.  When stimulating the clitoris, sometimes a penis will do.  Sometimes a tongue or finger will do.  And sometimes, props will get the job done as well.  Don’t be afraid to experiment! There are many combinations of possibilities, but success, arousal, and satisfaction depend mostly on the preferences of the owner (and good communication – between owner and user).

But of course, you don’t want to hear about my research and field studies.  You want to hear (and so do I) from our resident clitoris expert, Josie.

She Said, take it away!!

She Said:  Thank you, Dr. Eli.

First, let’s clarify: The clit may look like a button, but it is, in fact, not a button. Don’t press it! Don’t touch it with the expectation that you will win a prize. Imagine the all the nerve endings of your penis, but compacted together into that itty bitty little pink thing – actually there are more nerve endings in that teeny area than in your whole penis! You know that feeling after you orgasm, where you just need a second where nothing is touching you because you’re just too sensitive? That’s how the clit can feel if you don’t approach it with sensitivity.

Of course, all women are different. Our engines rev at different speeds. Some of us are geared faster, some slower. When in doubt, take it slower, as she can always tell you, “more, faster, harder” without feeling self-conscious, but she may be less apt to say, “take it easy, that’s too much, slow down.” (Though ladies, really, say what you need to say. Sex isn’t about him, it’s about you both equally.)

Also, as much as you read about this “pulling back the hood” thing with clitorises in less-than-reputable literature (like Penthouse), unless you are given specific instructions to do so, don’t do that either. That little bit of soft flesh is there for a reason, because it is so sensitive and so vulnerable. Leave it be, when she gets aroused and the clit starts to swell, it’ll take care of itself.

So on to arousal. At first, it’s best to avoid any direct contact with the clitoris. Give attention to the whole area – the inner thighs, the labia, the vagina, all the soft stuff. Your relationship with the clitoris is like starting a new little love affair every time you go down there. Give it some attention, be a little aloof, keep checking in, maybe spend a quick visit. But don’t devote a whole ton of energy on the clitoris itself until you’ve gotten the signal that it’s time.

What are the signals? First, the aforementioned swelling. All her parts are going to get soft and more pillowy, warm and pink. Second, the wetness. You should know all about that. Once you feel like the signals are all there, then move to the clit and touch lightly. As she gets more into it, you can add more pressure, but gauge how much by her reactions.

Also, when using your tongue, the tip is great for a little flick, but the wider and less specific part of your tongue is better for more consistent pressure. Try the underside of your tongue (where it’s super smooth) to start out. Once she’s into it, kissing, licking, stroking, and even gentle sucking are all great fun. Or, as Eli pointed out, use a tool.

Just remember that while she’s revving up, try to keep some variety in what you’re doing. Regardless of whether you’re using your mouth, hands, tool or if you’re in the middle of penetrative sex, don’t just find a spot and stick there the whole time. Be creative. Spend more and more time on the clit as she gets more turned on. Once you’ve hit the spot and are in a good rhythm, go with that. Listen to her words and her body and you will quickly become the best lover she’s ever known.

Most women I know find that if they’ve already had an orgasm, the clitoris is more erect, which makes it easier to orgasm during intercourse. Therefore, it’s always fun to aim to have her orgasm either before penetration, or early on in penetrative sex—using a vibrator or your hands or hers—to help increase the likelihood of her achieving multiple orgasms.

Also, there is such a thing as the internal clitoris! I think that the best practical advice about the internal clitoris involves trying different positions and different depths of penetration until you find the spot where the internal stimulation of the g-spot and/or the internal clitoris is stimulated. I’m hesitant to give specific advice about where or how this happens because it seems to be different from woman to woman. I can say that the majority of women I know, in a very unscientific poll I conducted, say that they find the best combination of internal/external stimulation of the clitoris happens with slow, almost grinding rhythmic missionary-position sex. Yes, missionary position!

However, as much fun as anecdotal evidence is, the only way for a man to know exactly how to best stimulate either the external or internal clitoris is to experiment with his partner and be responsive to her sexual response.

For more on the internal clitoris, you absolutely must read this awesome and informative Museum of Sex blog where Melodiusmsm gives both scientific and practical female glans advice!

Also, I’d love to refer you to my favorite classic sex expert sites, Dodson and Ross: Warning, this video is about clitoral sensitivity – it is graphic and very NSFW!

Read more sex Q&A from She Said He Said

Do you have a question for Eli and Josie? Ask it here!


Image of “press the button” courtesy of Shutterstock 

About She Said He Said

Eli and Josie, friends since college, realized how lucky they were to have one another—an honest friend of the opposite sex who tells it like it is. They wanted to share that with the world and so was born.


  1. On television and movies, women are portrayed as voluptuous
    vixens that need to be adored for their beautiful and sexy body.
    The male fascination with female breasts is as old as the stars themselves.
    Did fertility Doc use own sperm to inseminate women.

  2. Thanks for this! I’m sad to say that as a woman, I’m still not completely comfortable with my vulva and what stimulates pleasure for me. My lack of sex education has really left me feeling disconnected from my genitals and it’s difficult in sexual relationships because I don’t know exactly what I like/want. This is helping me to familiarize myself with my body, something I’ve been working on. It’s crazy that the clit is still such a mystery to so many people.

  3. Alyssa Royse says:

    EXCELLENT. One other tip that I’ve had great luck with when talking to men about the clitoris in their lives…. Think of it as a little tiny penis. The button is the head, but it also has a shaft, which is long and extends into the tunnel out of which the head will poke when aroused. That shaft often likes a good hand job, which is really just a thumb and forefinger stroking it in the same way you would stroke a penis. In fact, almost anything that feels good on a man’s penis, will feel good on the head and shaft of the clitoris (think, little tiny, super powerful, penis.) That may change the way you perform oral sex on a woman, and the way you use your fingers and toys during foreplay, after play and penetrative intercourse. Yay, clits!

  4. This is a very informative post….and I thought I was a well-informed owner! Thank you

    In my experience, the most important ingredients in ongoing “great sex” are 1) emotional connection, 2) knowing what works (and what doesn’t) for you, 3) being able to communicate that in a way your partner can understand *in the moment*, and 4) using that information to get the “mutual geometry” right, for the two of you.
    Ideally, size, shape, angle and sensitivity (of the penis, the clitoris, the vagina – and the brain!) all work together for the “greater good”.

  5. Dammit! The Survey pop-up ad killed my comment-in-progress when it “returned to the previous page”!

  6. Technical note – the “glans” of the clitoris is the externally visible portion, homologous to the head of the penis. The internal structure is quite complex and 3D, but can be imagined as an upside-down Y with the last few centimeters of the unified bit bent down (see the image on wikipedia). The “crura” (singular “crus”) are the arms of the Y, composed of one of the two types of erectile tissue (the other is only present in men), and actually are tightly adhered to the hip bones. You can feel two nubs of bone that you sit on – the arms of the clit run from just behind the externally visible portion almost to those nubs.

  7. wellokaythen says:

    Saw the wikipedia entry. May I say that Wikipedia has come a long way from its early days. An entire paragraph on the clitoris of the hyena. No laughing matter.

  8. wellokaythen says:

    Very well done. If only I had this article 20 years ago….

    Good point about how it is the only organ in humans that seems to have no other function but pleasure. I don’t believe in intelligent design, but that makes me have second thoughts on the matter.

    • FlyingKal says:

      Regarding the “intelligent” design, someone said:
      “God must’ve been an civil engineer. Why? Because who else would’ve thought of running a toxic waste pipe straight thru a recreational area…”

    • FlyingKal says:

      That should have been “Regarding the “intelligent” design of our genital areas” …

  9. clitorises, like the rest of human’s bodies, come in many shades and colors

    when you refer to “pink” clits, you narrow the focus to pale folks only

    • Excuse my ignorance of skin colours, but is it the clitoral hood that varies in colour or the clitoris as well? I was under the impression the clitoris itself is pink in pretty much everyone of every race but the clitoral hood varies?

      • Joanna Schroeder says:

        Interesting. Between Eli and I we have seen some pretty wide variety of vulva… Not yet seen a clit or a vagina that wasn’t pink, or at least beige-y pink. Maybe the hood isn’t pink? Could be wrong, though!

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          Double-checking with Eli, who has more experience with women than I do.

          • Joanna, try a web search… I won’t tell you which words will get you images of the genitalia of African diaspora women, but I’m sure you can figure some out.

            • All clitorii? of black women I’ve seen are pink with a darker skin hood. Never ever ever seen a non-pink clitoris and I’ve probably seen 1000’s of images of vulva (I’m not a gyno so haven’t seen that many IRL :P)

              • Joanna Schroeder says:

                Well, we agree that we aren’t all that sure exactly what the range of colors of the external clitorises is… You don’t really even see it in porn, more the hood which certainly varies in color.

                Assuming that it is an organ, and it’s not like a darker-skinned woman’s liver is a different color than a lighter skinned woman’s liver, we assume it to be pink.

                However, as far as we can tell, we do not have a great answer to this question!

                • Questions like these burn in my mind, I hate not knowing! I’m going to guess they’re all pinky fleshy organ colour, with different colour hoods.

  10. “…actually there are more nerve endings in that teeny area than in your whole penis!”

    Only if he was mutilated at birth. The foreskin has 20,000 nerve endings, more than twice the amount of the average clitoris.

  11. I’m always sad to hear of a man who doesn’t have all the common sense necessary to already answer this question. To me, it says that you’re not communicating enough with your partner, and/or you’re not paying attention to her body language. Great piece though! I assume anyone who didnt know this or couldn’t figure it out will have a great launching off point from here.

  12. Very informative, thank-you.

  13. Well done! I am going to share this and put it into my eNewsletter with attribution, of course. Every MAN and WOMAN should consider this REQUIRED reading an an operating manual for the clitoris. The clit only has one purpose… to give us an orgasm. No other functionality. WORK IT OUT and if you follow these intructions, the rest will happen magically. Thank you, Chrystal Bougon

  14. It isn’t actually known how many nerves are in the clitoris, the claim that it has more nerves that the penis is very common but has no evidence behind it.
    It is quite likely the penis has more nerves because it consists not only of the same tissue as the clitoris but of the labia (the part of the genitalia that would develop into a labia in the female fuses together,there is even a visible seam running down the centre of a penis.) It seems the labia majora are homologous to the testicles and the labia minora is in part homologous to the penis, fused to the foreskin and shaft.

    • Actually, no. The testicles are homologous to the ovaries, with the embryonic labial fold forming the scrotum around them (while it forms both labia in the female). The skin around the penis is, AFAIK, just typical skin.

  15. That was hot.


  1. […] not to wince while cooing in supposed pleasure. So instead of bludgeoning us with your tongue, start feather gentle and build up. Your woman’s breathing and sounds of pleasure (which happen well beyond the thirty second mark) […]

  2. […] would bring it pleasure. Hell, I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t even know where my own clitoris was. It became clear to me that I was completely uncomfortable and unfamiliar with my own […]

  3. […] The Clitoris, Demystified – A reader asks sex columnists She Said He Said for instructions on how to handle the world’s most mysterious sex organ. […]

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