Did you know that only female mammals have a clitoris; an organ with one singular purpose? That purpose is your pleasure, made possible in part by the 8,000 nerve endings, twice that of the average penis, innervating the female fun button.
It’s no surprise that given those luscious innervations, 50-75 percent of women reach the Big Bang with clitoral stimulation (with or without vaginal intercourse), with the main attraction a joint venture between the brain and the genitals.
Nature’s sexiest gem has yet to reveal its entire luster, but here’s what we know so far about the Clit Clit Hurray. According to The Daily Sex Bible: Inspirations and Techniques for the Best Year of Sex Ever, (Quiver Books, 2010) “all orgasms are really clitoral – even if the little pink shaft receives no direct stimulation.” That is because the exuberant clitoral nerves are connected to a network of 15,000 that service the entire pelvic region, explains the author, Susan Crain Bakos.
That means only a small portion of the clitoris can be seen by the naked eye. The average clitoris is around four inches in length (similar to a flaccid penis) with three fourths of it hidden from view. This love apex lies anterior (tummy side) to the vaginal opening, near the labial folds (the two sets of lips are called the labial majora, or outer lips, and minora, or inner lips), covered by a clitoral hood, an overgrowth of skin. Sometimes the clitoral glans (also called the shaft) protrudes from the hood, though in many women it is barely noticeable. The front commissure refers to the areas above the base of the glans, just below where the outer lips meet.
The clitoral wings are like the long ends of a wishbone, and are located on both sides of the urethra (where urine is eliminated). These run back to the pubic bone and connect to the clitoris. The clitoral bulbs are erectile tissue that extends beneath the inner lips, and fill with blood when a woman is aroused.
From birth to death, baring any unforeseen injury or insult, it is always at a woman’s service.
Every vulva is visually and somatically unique, and in fact, the size of a woman’s clitoris has no relationship to intensity of orgasms. Regardless of size, shape, or color, all are highly sensitive, virtual pleasure-producing Everests, whose secrets are being discovered by neuroscience and sex researchers around the globe.
Some sexy parts seem more orgasmically forthright than others. If you feel as if you’ve got the Rock of Gibraltar instead of a magic carpet, one difficulty may be due to your Clitoral-Vaginal Distance (CV-distance).
Also called the Rule-of-Thumb, this gap has been proposed to explain why some women reach orgasm more readily than others. First suggested in 1924 by a contemporary of Freud’s, Princess Marie Bonaparte, this ‘Rule’ suggests that if the distance between your vaginal opening and your clitoris are longer than the length of your thumb, you may have more difficulties reaching orgasm via penile-vaginal intercourse only.
Dr. Kim Wallen of Emory University re-examined Bonaparte’s original work and concurred with the suggestion that, at least to some degree, physiology determines orgasmic response. “Clitoris-vagina distances less than 2.5 cm -- that's roughly from the tip of your thumb to your first knuckle -- tend to yield reliable orgasms during sex,” Wallen said in an LA Times interview.
The correlation between C-V distance and the ability to orgasm requires future research to better understand the relationship between genital topography and getting over the top. In the meantime, it’s important for women to not get hung up on their measurements, explained Wallen.
Many now consider the ‘G-Spot’ – located about a fingers length inside the vagina - the interior extension of the clitoris. Actually, the G-spot was probably only missing for a few millennia, having been previously ‘discovered’ by ancient sexplorators such as the Taoists who called this spongy tissue the Black Pearl.
Best stimulated by a come-hither finger motion, the G-spot can produce orgasms in some women that are more diffuse and deeper than typical clitoral orgasms. Neurologically speaking, the sensations from the clitoris travel along the pudendal nerve, while sensations from the G-Spot travel along the pelvic nerve. Some women respond orgasmically when this section of vaginal wall is toyed with while others prefer other hot spots.
These additional sexual pleasure zones include the anterior fornix erotic (AFE) Zone (or A-spot). According to Bakos, “the Malaysian sexologist Dr. Chua Chee Ann named it based on his study of 193 women. All but eleven reported increased vaginal lubrication and higher arousal when the area was stroked.” A small patch of skin close to the cervix, “stroking the AFE zone makes most women lubricate immediately.”
Finally, the u-spot is a small patch of responsive tissue above the opening of the urethra and below the clitoris that can be a lovely detour if or when direct stimulation feels too intense (post-coital) but you still want to stay afloat of the pleasure waves.
As few as seven percent of women always have orgasms during sexual intercourse alone, while approximately 1 in 4 never do. Why some cum more easily than others is still an enigma. Dr. Barry Komisaruk – university professor and author of The Science of Orgasm – and his team of neuroscientists at Rutgers University are using functional magnetic resonance imagery (fMRI) and volunteer masturbators (how’s that for college credit) to elucidate the neurophysiology of female orgasm.
One thing they’ve discovered is that women who have suffered a spinal cord injury with no feeling below the waist can still experience the Big-O; sexual gratification occurs through ‘new’ pathways along the vagus nerve, bypassing the spine completely. Their work has also helped anorgasmic women learn how to orgasm.
What we know so far is that regardless of type or location of sexual stimuli, the brain seems to ‘interpret’ orgasm the same way, though our subjective interpretation of sexual satisfaction certainly varies. “An orgasm is an orgasm in the brain, where the real sex magic happens,” Bakos asserts.
The more we understand about the center of our erotic worlds – including the clitoris, its exquisite neighbors and our brains on sex – the more we realize that our sexual apparatus’ are complex and mysterious, demanding of respect, appreciation and attention.
Makes being a curious sex and science geek a whole lot more appealing too.
An earlier version of this article originally appeared in Sexis Magazine.
©2010-2011 www.TinamarieBernard.com; PARTIAL reposts only permitted with link back to original article.
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