Are you giving your clitoris the love and appreciation that it wants, needs and — let’s be honest — deserves?
As the only organ in the human body that’s designed for the sole purpose of pleasure, the clitoris is incredible. Yet — for reasons ranging from a paternalistic and heteropatriarchal healthcare system to a scarcity of pleasure-centred sex education — the clitoris often doesn’t get the attention that it really should.
Luckily for people with vulvas (and their partners), it’s never too late to explore, learn and let go of any old ideas that may be holding us back from fully embracing the pleasure possibilities of the clitoris.
To help us discover more about this magnificent — yet sometimes misunderstood — sex organ, we chatted with sexual health and consent educator (and the host of our Sex Sessions series) Samantha Bitty. With some help from Bitty, we’ve gathered 10 ways to show your clitoris some love — from ways to shift your mindset away from shame (and onto pleasure) to practical ideas for clitoral stimulation.
Embrace the anatomy: Love your clitoris
As Bitty explains, there’s a key underlying reason for our societal disconnect between the clitoris and our understanding of it. “Why doesn’t the clitoris get the love it deserves? It’s because we weren’t taught.”
With this in mind, a good first step to appreciating your clitoris is to learn (after all, how could you know if you were never taught?) about what and where the clitoris is — lessons that are relatively new to even the scientific community.
“It was only in 1998, so less than 30 years ago, that there was, within the scientific and medical community, a discovery and consensus around the vastness of the clitoral structure,” Bitty explains. “There was this assumption that the clitoris was just the little nubbin on the outside of the vulva, and what was ultimately discovered, again – less than 30 years ago – was the clitoral structure actually spans the length of the vulva, it surrounds the vagina.”
So, instead of conceptualizing the clitoris as only a small little nub, we can think of it as a complex structure with both external (that is, the glans, a nerve-packed, pea-sized bulb that is located under the clitoral hood) and internal (clitoral tissue extends into the pelvis, attaches to the pubic bone, runs through and behind the labia and passes by the urethra, vaginal canal and near the anus) features. When we can think of the clitoris as being a vast structure, we can then open up more possibilities for exploration and pleasure.
Learn what you like: Explore your body
One of the best ways to learn what feels good for you and your clitoris is to practice and explore your body on your own. As Bitty explains in this Sex Sessions lesson about masturbation, pleasuring yourself is key to learning what feels good. “The more we know what feels good for us, the more easily we can identify when something doesn’t, and articulate when something does.”
Stimulate different areas: Both inside and out
When it comes to the clitoris, masturbation can be an exercise in trying out different types of stimulation on different parts of the clitoral structure — especially now that we know that the clitoris has both internal and external areas to explore. “You might find that you don’t like direct stimulation on your clitoris, like on the external parts of the clitoris, let’s say,” Bitty explains. “That’s okay. You might enjoy stimulation to the clitoris from the inside forward.”
“To the point about pleasure-centred sex being about curiosity and exploration – have at it. Like, try everything,” Bitty says. “And, not just on the external bits, but experiment with stimulating different parts of the vulva, the perineum.”
Embrace what feels good: Say goodbye to sex shame
Another way to bring more positive attention to your clitoris is to allow yourself to let go of and unlearn feelings of shame or embarrassment that you may have learned to associate with sex and sexual pleasure (note: Bitty’s lesson on the psychology around sex and sex shame can be a helpful place to start).
When exploring your clitoris, allow yourself to be curious, and, as Bitty says, “don’t be afraid or ashamed of what feels good.” Without being burdened by unnecessary shame, you can focus more freely on pleasure — and on giving your clitoris the attention that it rightly deserves.
Related: 21 sex myths everyone thinks are true.
Have fun: Play with toys
When showing love to your clitoris — whether solo or with a partner — toys can be a fun way to play and experiment with different sensations and types of stimulation.
When turning to toys as part of pleasure-seeking time with your clitoris, there are plenty of options to choose from, so don’t be afraid to try out different styles to, again, learn what you like and what works best for you. For example, you might like a rabbit-style toy that combines internal and external stimulation, or a suction toy might be your preferred method of stimulation.
When learning what type of toys you like, look for options that are made from body-safe materials and that are affordable — so you can try them out and see what you like without necessarily making a big financial investment on a toy that you won’t really use.
Lubricate: Don’t be afraid to of lube
Whether you’re having a solo session or you and a partner are exploring your clitoris, using a personal lubricant can help reduce friction and make for a more comfortable experience. However, it’s also important to be mindful of how your body reacts to certain lubes. Bitty encourages people to start with a water-based lube, and to pay attention to how your body responds.
Hormones make an impact: Consider your cycle
Hormones regulate all kinds of processes in our bodies, and they can impact how our clitoris likes to be stimulated at different times. “Your cycle will determine what feels good when,” Bitty notes. So, if you notice that a certain type of stimulation feels amazing one day, and does nothing for you another day, there’s no need to be alarmed.
By paying attention to and honouring what you (and your clitoris) want at different times and points in your cycle, you can gain a better understanding of what pleasure feels like for your body.
You may also like: 10 best foods to eat before and after sex — and 5 foods to avoid.
Get creative: Experiment with sensations
When seeking pleasure for your clitoris, exploring what feels good is integral, and this might mean being creative.
One way to do this could be playing with how it feels to stimulate your clitoris at different points in the day. As Bitty notes, “an anecdotal and off-the-beaten-path suggestion that I make is having a full bladder, because there’s limited space in there.” Though you want to be aware of potential outcomes that could arise from having a full bladder, this change in sensation could be pleasurable, so it may be worth a try.
Speak up: Communication is key
Do you want to help someone else honour your clitoris? Don’t be afraid to communicate and tell them what you like. After all, because everyone’s body is different (and each body can change what they like at different times), it can be really difficult for someone else to pleasure you without feedback. Similarly, if you’re stimulating a partner’s clitoris, ask questions. There’s no shame in communication when it comes to sex.
You may also like: What are the most common lies people tell in their sex lives?
Enjoy yourself: Think beyond orgasm
One final thought to consider: loving your clitoris doesn’t always have to be about having an orgasm. In fact, getting to know your clitoris with goals that aren’t orgasm — and learning the difference between pleasure and orgasm — can be wonderful ways to honour your body. As Bitty says, “if you can’t orgasm, that’s okay.”