THE CLITORIS DURING INTERCOURSE
AND ITS IMPORTANCE TO THE FEMALE ORGASM
by catherine yronwode
The illustration on this page is of an array of sterling silver vulva amulets
from the pages of the Lucky W Amulet Archive.
The visible glans of the clitoris is the little "button" peeking out from beneath the clitoral prepuce or foreskin at the top of the opening to the vagina.
Back in the mid-1990s, when the net was smaller, there was a funny little newsgroup called alt.sex.wizards. It was a friendly place, a virtual community where anyone could ask a question about sex, and someone -- or several folks -- would answer it factually and non-judgementally. Most, but not all, of the people who asked questions were in their teens, but because this was before the huge outcry for censorship of explicit sexual material on the net, we had no problem with that. Most, but not all, of the people who answered the questions (the "wizards") were 40 or older; most of us had kids. We enjoyed answering the questions, even when the same ones came up over and over again. I was one of about five middle aged women who answered questions every day about female orgasms, breast-feeding, and whether women really like oral sex. There were about the same number of middle-aged men, who answered questions day after day about male orgasms, homosexual sex, and techniques for masturbation.
Then spam was invented. Soon the newsgroup was overrun with 900-number advertisements. The "XXX Hot and Nasty" posts outnumbered the posts about sex. Within a few months, the community of "wizards" all went their separate ways -- Bonnie, Elf, Rob...dozens of folks i knew briefly and thought i would never meet again.
I missed alt.sex.wizards. In its memory, i resurrected some material i wrote that ran there. It is not about "sacred" sex per se, but like the article on male control of orgasm, it points toward techniques that any sex-wizard-in-training will want to know.
> I never have an orgasm during intercourse. Intercourse
> is still very pleasurable, but I never reach that point.
> Has anybody done something about this in order to achieve
> an orgasm? If you did and it works please tell me so
> that I can try it.
and katgrrl wrote:
> I would like to hear -- especially from women out there -- the easiest way
> for couples to achieve a vaginal orgasm. I have heard that most women
> only have them after having been with a partner for a very long time... I
> have also heard that certain positions seem to make it easier. What are
> your thoughts?
and Stacey wrote:
> Assuming the truth, that women get off through stimulation of their
> clitori, (not usually achieved during intercourse) a penis going in
> and out, whether it has a foreskin or not, isn't gonna do it. Period.
> Doesn't matter if it takes 3 hours or 3 minutes for the male to cum.
> It's just not gonna do it.
First, we all know (well, most of us do) that the clitoris is the analogue organ to the penis in a man. It is the seat of the nerve sensations known as orgasm. Asking a woman to have an orgasm without direct stimulation or contact to the clitoris is exactly, precisely the same as asking a man to have an orgasm without stimulation or contact to the penis. It CAN be done, but keep in mind that it is unusual and may not be particularly rewarding.
The tube of the vagina itself has very few sexually stimulatable nerve endings deep within (it does have nerve endings that sense pressure, though). The sexual nerve endings of the vagina increase toward the outer end of it and are most concentrated where it curves outward toward the vulvar opening and upward to the clitoris.
The scrotum tissue (but not the testicles) on a man are formed from fetally analogous tissue to the woman's labia minora (vaginal lips). The seam down the middle of the scrotum is where the lips would divide in a woman. The two areas have the same compliment of nerve endings, so asking a woman to have an orgasm from stimulation of her cunt lips alone would be the same as asking a man to have an orgasm from stimulation of his scrotum alone. It CAN be done, but as i said, it is unusual.
Most women achieve orgasm through friction of the clitoris against the man's pubic bone while engaged in intercourse or through stimulation of the clitoris by manual or oral contact.
But Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, claimed that women who had clitoral orgasms were "infantile." He asserted that to be truly mature, a woman must have only "vaginal orgasms." His theory has long been discredited, both psychologically and anatomically. yet some women do report "vaginal orgasms without friction of the clitoris."
To understand this, you have to understand the way the clitoris is shaped and how it is carried in the body.
Most men -- and all too many women -- think that the clitoris is a tiny "button" or "nub" of sensitive flesh located above the vagina, at the level of the base of the woman's pubic bone. This is NOT TRUE.
The clitoris is a shaft of engorgeable tissue, built just like a small penis, with a sexually sensitive head (the glans) at its tip, just like the head of a small penis. It comes equipped with a foreskin or prepuce, just like an uncircumsized penis, and during sexual excitement, the foreskin retracts, exposing the glans of the clitoris, the little "button" most people think is the entire organ.
Unlike the shaft of the penis, which is free-hanging, the shaft of the clitoris lays vertically along the body's midline, covered and never seen, just beneath a layer of fat and skin. The shaft of the clitoris reaches down toward the vagina and then splits to each side.
To imagine this better, remember that the vaginal lips are analogous to the scrotum -- and now think of the way the shaft of the penis emerges from the scrotal area and visualize the shaft of the clitoris (covered beneath a layer of fat and skin) emerging from the top of the vaginal lips and terminating in the little glans, which pokes out of the skin. Got that? Okay. But there's more! When it reaches the body, the tiny clitoral shaft divides into two "forks" or "legs" called crura. (The penis also has two crura at its base, but they are relatively small; they serve to anchor the penis to the body..) The elongated crura of the clitoris extend downward along either side of the vaginal opening and terminate in bulbous glands, so the entire clitoris looks like an upside-down letter "Y" that has been bent forward at the top. And what most people call "the clitoris" is just that end-tip of the letter "Y" shape, the clitoral glans.
Now the big disadvantage to having the clitoris fixed in place beneath the skin with elongated crura is that the woman has little freedom of motion for stimulation. Imagine if the penis was surgically attached to the flesh of the abdomen with only the glans free at the top (right below the belly button) and there was no ability to thrust in and out. A man would be somewhat at the mercy of his partner's technical skill or acquiescence to his limited range of motion -- he'd have to rub his body up and down along his partner's body to stimulate the penis in the same way she rubs up and down against his pubic bone (some men do this when masturbating by rubbing against their mattress) or he would have to ask her to stroke the glans of his penis the way she asks him to stroke the glans of her clitoris.
Sounds like women have a rough go of it, maybe? Like they have a harder time getting off because of the fixed position of the clitoris? Not so!
There is a distinct advantage to having the clitoris fixed in place: any downward pull on the skin covering the shaft and forks of the clitoris is felt directly in the glans, as it is pulled downward through the foreskin. Thus, the friction stroke of a man's penis going into and out of the vagina can, by pulling and releasing the clitoral root and shaft, produce an indirect stimulation of the glans of the clitoris. Many women are capable of having orgasms like this, although the process, being indirect, may take longer than having an orgasm induced by friction stimulation of the clitoral glans itself. Because they do not see the entire clitoris under its covering of skin and fat, many woman (and their male partners) think that they have not stimulated the clitoris (by which they mean only the glans of the clitoris) -- when in fact they have done so -- and thus they buy into the idea that they have achieved a strictly "vaginal" orgasm.
Men, imagine being masturbated by a woman who only plays with the root and shaft of your penis and with the skin of your scrotum, but never touches the tip of your cock. Could you come? Would you come, perhaps after quite a while? It's possible, isn't it?
What you would experience (we could call it a "penile shaft orgasm") would be the equivalent of Freud's "vaginal orgasm."
Do you think this form of sex play would be as pleasurable as having your partner touch or lick the underside of the sensitive head of your penis? Would it be as pleasurable as sliding the glans of your penis into and out of her warm, soft, wet cunt? Is penile shaft stimulation all you'd want every time you made love? Is clitoral shaft stimulation all you'd want your female partner to experience every time she made love with you?
The "vaginal orgasm" (clitoral crura orgasm) exists, as does the "penile shaft orgasm." But neither is greatly sought after by the vast majority of men and women. Most men and most women seek stimulation to the area of the glans of the penis and just below and the glans of the clitoris and just below. And that's why i recommend that in the interest of connubial bliss, men and women ignore the admonitions and instructions of "experts" like Freud and his followers, and do what pleases each other most.
In the words of the old proverb, "What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander." That is, men and women are more alike than they are different.
Or, as the Bible says, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." In short -- let mutual pleasure be your best and truest guide.
Unfortunately, or so it seems to me, when Freud's ridiculous concept of the "purely vaginal orgasm" was thrown into the dustbin of history (and good riddance!), sexologists began focussing their attention solely on the clitoris. Or rather, on the GLANS of the clitoris. Men were taught to rub and lick the little "button" and assured that this, and this alone, would "satisfy" their partners. Women were told -- especially by a few rabid feminist authors -- that since it was "almost impossible" for a woman to have a vaginal orgasm, the ideal partner-sex for a woman consisted of her being masturbated or licked. The in-and-out-stroke of the penis in the vagina, these writers claimed, was useless when it came to stimulating a woman to climax.
Although this notion -- that penis-in-vagina sex rarely brings a woman to orgasm -- may be true for some women, it is most definitely NOT true for all women, or even the majority. And for a certain number of women, including myself, the most satisfying orgasms (the ones i call the "big baked potato orgasms," the kind that are HUGE and go on and on, ONLY occur during penis-in-vagina sex.
What am i doing that makes penis-in-vagina orgasm so achievable -- and adorable -- for me? Why, i am taking my clitoris on an excursion!
I wish i could draw you a picture here. Let me try in words. The clitoris is a small penis-analogue organ situated above the opening of the vagina. In most women only its tip (the glans) is exposed -- and then only when one retracts the clitoral foreskin or when the clitoris becomes erect and emerges from the foreskin.
Internally, the clitoral shaft has a little bend in it, called "the clitoral knee." If you were to cut a woman's body in half in linear cross-section, the clitoris would look like a crooked little finger, of which only the top joint emerges from the foreskin -- or like a little daffodil that has not yet opened and is bending its flower-bud downward and outward.
The clitoris and vagina embracing the penis during intercourse as seen facing toward the woman. The outer layers of skin, fat, and muscle have been dissected away, and the penis is shown in simplified cross-section for position only. Atop the pea-shaped clitoral glans, normally the only part visible outside the body, you can see the ascending portion of the clitoral shaft. Upon reaching its apex (which Dickinson calls "the clitoral knee"), the shaft bends downward and divides into the two "forks" or crura which encircle the vaginal opening. Drawing by Robert Latou Dickinson, in "Human Sex Anatomy," 1949.
The clitoris is flexible and erectile. During erection it lengthens and its bend flattens out to a greater or lesser extent, depending on personal anatomy, until it resembles the angle of an opened daffodil, still pointing outward, but a bit less downward. Not only is the clitoris itself somewhat flexible, its forked shaft is held in place by tiny internal ligaments that allow it to move up and down the midline of the body, root and all.
The root of the shaft of this little organ sits, in most women, right above the lower portion of the public bone, called the symphysis in medical terminology. From there it divides into the two "forks" or crura, which extend downward around the vaginal opening.
In a cutaway side-view of the body, the symphysis is an oval bone. Its cross-section is shaped like a narrow football's cross-section, with the long axis running more or less up and down, the shaft of the clitoris situated at right angles to the long axis of the oval, and the clitoral bend leaving the tip of the clitoris pointed either outward or downward, depending on individual variation. Between the pubic bone and the clitoris is a layer of fat and muscle, a little cushion for it.
Men also have a symphysis or pubic bone. Theirs is above the root of their penis, and it is also covered with a layer of muscle and fat, giving it padding.
In intercourse, if the partners are well adjusted in terms of size and posture, the woman will position herself so that her clitoris is placed between her symphysis and her partner's. This is called "clitoris seizure." Then, at the end of each inward stroke he makes, she will give a little downward and outward roll of the pelvis which presses her clitoris rather firmly between the two bones and rubs it upward. This is called "clitoral excursion."
The effect of clitoral seizure and excursion is to move the clitoris downward as the penis enters -- and upward (under pressure and friction) at the end of the penile stroke. Thus, with each stroke of the penis, the glans of the clitoris is rubbed along her partner's padded pubic bone and the shaft of the clitoris is given a downward and then an upward tug. The upward friction-stroke of the clitoris -- caused by the downward pelvic roll she makes at the end of the inward stroke of his penis -- is the more pleasurable of the two directions.
The reach of the clitoral stroke can vary from half an inch to an inch and a half, depending on the size of the clitoris, how much it projects, how curved it is, and how deft the woman is at moving her pelvis.
If the woman crouches on top of the man and he makes no thrusts with his hips at all, the woman can control the degree of clitoral pressure and movement to suit herself perfectly, and can teach the man how much pressure and movement she likes.
Any woman who does this will most definitely experience clitoral stimulation during intercourse. A woman in a normal state of arousal well used to practicing clitoral seizure and excursion can achieve orgasm through intercourse with the same alacrity she could through masturbation, should she want to. She can also learn to control her movements to prolong intercourse a very long time, especially if her partner is cooperative.
By moving her buttocks outward and reducing the clitoral seizure, she can keep from coming too soon while her partner continues to stroke in and out.
Should she wish to slow him down while speeding herself up, she can indicate (through whatever form of communication the couple uses) that he should shorten his strokes or be still for a while. The lessened penile friction of a two-inch stroke will keep him from premature ejaculation, while still allowing her to experience a full inch-and-a-half clitoral excursion stroke, bringing her closer to orgasm.
If she wants true control, she can get on top of the man or they can lay side-by-side with her legs around him. These positions will allow her the fullest range of movement and amply compensate for the shorter length of her "tool."
With practice, full clitoral stimulation during vaginal intercourse and gently timed mutual orgasm will result.
I speak as one who knows.
In 1998, about a year after the above was placed online, a middle-aged man wrote to me with further questions. I herewith append his queries and my replies:
> One of the things that was not mentioned on your page is the mysterious
> "One o'clock" area over the clitoral "hood" that the people at the
> "Welcome Consensus" keep talking about. They say that all their
> "research" suggests that this is the area that women, when alone, reach
> for habitually when making themselves "happy"... maybe you can talk about
> about this in a reply, if you choose to do so...
Thank you very much for posing the question and thus allowing me an opportunity to respond.
I am unfamiliar with "Welcome Concensus," but i too have encountered this bizarre notion that the so-called "one o'clock position on the clitoral hood" (foreskin) is the place most favoured for stroking by women during masturbation and should thus be the place that every man strokes when masturbating a woman.
The "one o'clock position" is determined by viewing the clitoris frontally, with the clitoral glans (the little "button") as a clock face; hence "one o'clock" is a point slightly to the RIGHT of top-center from the PARTNER'S viewpoint or slightly to the LEFT of top-center on the actual WOMAN'S BODY.
The idea that this point is the clitoral "sweet spot" is misguided at best. At worst, insistence on it as dogma detracts form the rational teaching of sexual ecstasy.
Here's my experience, frankly told, in support of my thesis:
I am 51 years old. I have been masturbating since i was 12. Thus, i have 39 years of experience with inducing orgasm in myself. I long ago found, through experiment, that for me, making circular motions that carry a full-contact pressure-stroke around the glans of the clitoris and along the shaft and crura or "forks" of the clitoris is highly arousing. During this stroke, the finger remains in contact with the clitoral skin and moves the entire clitoral glans around beneath the surface, sliding and tugging it upward against its little pad of fat and bone. This stroke does not involve rubbing the finger over the top of the glans, but instead around the corona, a stroke analogous to the glans-circling or "capping and twisting" motion that many men make to the corona of the penis when masturbating. After further arousal, a pressure stroke along the crura just off-center of the top of the glans -- and analogous to the "frenulum stroking" motion i have seen many men make on and below the penile glans -- produces an extreme state of arousal.
Furthermore, it is very important for me to note that if i or my partner allow this stroke to rub on the foreskin ("hood") of the clitoris, it pulls at the delicate tissue in a way that is not pleasurable but rather annoying. The foreskin must be gently pushed away from the glans first, before beginning the circular stroke. This exposure of the glans is exactly analogous to what men do when masturbating, of course, pulling the foreskin down and away from the glans as the penis becomes erect. (I refer here only to men who have not been genitally mutilated by the butcher-minions of JHVH, of course.)
To go into further detail, once the clitoris is erect and the glans exposed, i find that the upward portion of the stroke along the crura of the clitoral shaft produces the greatest pleasurable intensity. This is also what most men report, that for them, an upward stroke on the penis, from root to tip, just beneath the glans, is the most pleasurable direction during masturbation (and intercourse). Because on a woman the clitoral shaft is divided into two crura that extend on both sides of the clitoral glans, the directionality of the circular stroke will determine which portion of the movement is "upward" and which portion is "downward. I make the circular stroke around the clitoral glans in a clockwise manner, and thus from "nine o'clock" to "noon" is, for me, the upward and therefore most intense quadrant of the circle. The point in the circle that has always been at what could be called the most arousing spot is the "eleven o'clock position." That is, it is a mirror image of the "one o'clock position" that these "authorities" you cite are teaching is the "sweet spot."
This point is so intensely arousing to me that although i cannot often summon the concentration of mind to simply hold and press it myself (i tend to keep up the circular motion until i come), when my partner takes control and prepares me by making the circular motion until i have peaked and backed off (by relaxing) several times and then presses the "eleven o'clock" point firmly while i relax deeply, i have the sensation of orgasm without contraction or culmination. This sensation continues for a very long time, as long as the pressure applied is firm but gentle.
It is possible that the location of the area of greatest intensity is a genetically determined one that differs from person to person, but it may instead be the result of self-training. Had i gotten the notion as a teenager to masturbate with counter-clockwise circles around the clitoral glans, it is possible that since the upward stroke would still be the most intense portion of the circuit, the "sweet spot" would then be at the "one o'clock position," as described by the authorities you cite. I don't know the etiology of the phenomenon, but i do know that for me it is and has always been within my memory, the way i describe it here.
Okay, with this in mind, imagine my horror -- my OUTRAGE -- when i attended a Marin County workshop on "Extended Orgasm" -- and my training partner was told by one of the teachers that the high arousal i was feeling as a result of my guiding his touches through a process of verbal feedback and encouragement, was "wrong" and that he should search out and stimulate my "one o'clock position" to bring me greater pleasure. The teacher even demonstrated the position so that he could copy her. He complied, and i immediately felt a drop in arousal level. I asked him to test both sides of the clitoral shaft and the results were consistent for me: an upward stroke at "eleven o'clock" produced the usual near-orgasm ("valley orgasm") experience and the same stroke at "one o'clock" produced awareness of pleasure and a desire for the finger to be moved to the other side.
My arousal level dropped so low during this experimentation that i actually stopped the masturbation and got the attention of the teacher again. (I cc'ed a copy of this to her, too, by the way.) I told her that my pleasure point was on the other side of the glans than what she was teaching and that perhaps she should mention this to the class. She brusquely dismissed my years of self-knowledge with a statement to the effect that she had a degree in sexology and she knew best. I was simply "wrong." But, she said, if i kept up practice on the "proper" side of my clitoral glans, i would achieve higher levels of arousal. Since achieving high levels of arousal -- to the point of half-hour long "rolling orgasms" has never been a problem for me, i felt dismissed and even insulted by her dogmatism. I also felt that had i been a younger woman with less experience at masturbation or a shy woman with less sexual self-confidence, her misguided advice might have damaged my practice!
After the class concluded, while students were giving feedback on the teaching methods, i voiced my concern in stronger terms, telling her that in her orthodoxy and dogmatism, she had done me a disservice and had lessened my confidence in her teachings, because they were utterly untrue for me. She listened respectfully, and we parted amicably, but i was left with doubt that she would ever change her approach to teaching the received wisdom in which she had invested so much belief.
What change do i think was needed in her teaching? Simply this: Rather than identify a single mapped position as the universal "sweet spot" in all women, the teaching should acknowledge the anatomically-grounded fact that it is the UPWARD PORTION of the circular stroke around the clitoral corona that produces the greatest pleasure and that if a woman has a preferred directionality to the circular stroke, her personal "sweet spot" will probably be found just below and outward from top-center on the side of the glans where the stroke rises to the zenith.
> Even though I am approaching all of this in an almost clinical
> fashion, I believe it is my absolute duty to totally fulfill my
> partner.(I need all the help I can get...)
> : )
Well, good for you for undertaking the effort!
> I must admit I spent most of the 70's doing the in-and-out marathon
> thing, and it was largely a stupid contest of performance and Tarzan
> style beating of the chest stuff...
> Sex and music were the center of my life at that time, and now music
> has supplanted that as my main focus, however when sex does happen
> once in about four months or more, I have to make it worthwhile for
> Now in my mid 40's, with a bad back, with some sacralized vertebrae, I
> have to resort to alternative methods of going about my business, as
> it were.
May i suggest the woman-superior position for intercourse? I used this
position with great success when i was once partnered with a man who had
chronic back pain due to botched spinal surgery in his youth. He was
more comfortable when not moving much, and i had the opportunity to set
the pace (slower than many men seem to think is "normal") and to create
the kind of clitoral contact-pressure i prefer.
> Any input, such as yours, is so valuable...
> Lord knows she won't talk about it...
Since lack of verbal communication seems to be a problem between you and your mate, may i suggest making the resolution of that problem a high priority? Frank, loving, and intimate speech can accomplish wonders. Give it a try.
Finally, make it a point to approach her sexually at least once a month when she is just about to get or has just gotten her period. Women's sexual desire is highest then, especially for the six-to-twelve hour "aura" time around the onset of menses, and she may be more interested than you think!
> Thank you once again.
Post Script: For more about clitoral anatomy, see the article "Study Claims Clitoris Larger Than Thought" by Althaea Yronwode. Oh, and b the way, a moderated, spam-free newsgroup called soc.sexuality.general sprang up to take the place of the old alt.sex.wizards, and if you post there you may find me and spome of the other people mentioned above.
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