Sexual Health Q&A

Q&A
Female Sexual Health
How do shape, size, and location of the clitoris affect sexual pleasure?

With thousands of nerve endings, the clitoris is the source of intense sexual pleasure for many women. In fact, clitoral stimulation is the only way some women can climax. Experts believe that sexual pleasure is the main function of the clitoris.

The external portion of the clitoris, called the glans, is a small structure found between the pubic bone and the upper labia. The glans lies under a hood of skin that protects it (similar to the foreskin on a penis). However, most of the clitoris is not visible and extends inward toward the vagina.

Clitorises vary in size, shape, and location. Generally, the glans looks like a small button, but some are smaller than others or have less surface area. Also, some are closer to the vagina than others.

The clitoral hood can vary as well. Sometimes, the hood covers the entire glans, and sometimes it leaves the glans exposed.

Not all women reach orgasm from clitoral stimulation. In some cases, the clitoris is small or too far from the vagina for climax to happen. The hood may also be too large.

A woman may increase her chances of orgasm by showing her partner exactly where her clitoris is and how she likes to be stimulated. Her partner may need to approach it from a different angle or try another form of stimulation, like oral sex. Couples can also try different sex positions that allow for more clitoral stimulation.

Sometimes, women consider genital cosmetic surgery, especially if they think their clitoral hood is too large. (A clitoral hood reduction procedure is sometimes called a hoodectomy.) But such procedures are not without risks, like pain and infection.

Before having this surgery, women should see their doctor. There are many reasons a woman might have trouble with orgasms, including poor communication between partners, relationship problems, and anxiety. Sex therapy can give couples the tools they need to discuss their sexual wants and needs. A trained therapist can also offer ideas and strategies to improve their relationship. It can be worthwhile for a woman to see a therapist on her own, too.

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