Your clitoris is your most sensitive erogenous zone. Its sole purpose is to enable you to experience sexual pleasure. Understanding what kinds of touch feel good (and when) can improve your sex life.
Your clitoris is the pleasure center of your reproductive anatomy. Many people think of the clitoris as the tiny nub of flesh located at the top of the genitals (vulva), but this is just the part of the clitoris you can see. Your clitoris consists of a complex network of erectile tissue and nerves, with parts located inside and outside your body.
Stimulating your clitoris can make you feel sexually aroused. It can heighten feelings of sexual tension until you climax (orgasm). Even if you don’t have an orgasm, the sensations from a stimulated clitoris usually feel good.
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Your clitoris has a single purpose: to enable you to experience sexual pleasure. Your entire vulva is an erogenous zone — a part of your body that gets sexually stimulated when touched. Your clitoris is the most sensitive part of your vulva. It’s capable of producing the most intense and most pleasurable sexual responses in your body.
Your clitoris is sensitive to all types of touch. The most pleasurable types of touch vary from person to person. Contact with a tongue (oral sex), fingers, a sex toy or your partner’s genitals can stimulate your clitoris. Vaginal penetration with a penis, fingers or a sex toy can stimulate the clitoris through your vaginal wall.
Experimenting with different types of touch by yourself or with a partner can help you familiarize yourself with the types of sensations that feel best for you.
Most people think of the clitoris as the tiny button of flesh that’s the most sensitive part of your external genitals (vulva), but your clitoris is located inside your pelvic cavity, too.
The part of your clitoris that extends outside your body is located at the top of your vulva. Beneath your clitoris is your urethral opening (the hole where you pee), your vaginal opening (the hole where you have intercourse), a space of skin called your perineum and your anus (the hole where you poop). On either side of your clitoris and vaginal opening are two flaps of skin called your labia minora (inner vaginal lips). Your labia majora (outer vaginal lips) surround your inner vaginal lips. A mound of skin called your mons pubis is above your clitoris, directly atop your pubic bone.
Zooming in, the parts of your clitoris that are outside your body include:
Inside your body, your clitoris is shaped like an upside-down wishbone, with a clitoral body branching out to form a V shape.
Research is ongoing about the relationship between the clitoris and the G-spot, or Grafenberg spot. The G-spot refers to a region just a few inches inside your vagina that may feel especially pleasurable when stimulated. You can feel it by inserting a finger into your vagina and making a “come hither” motion in the direction of your front vaginal wall.
This spot may feel pleasurable because it’s where the vestibular bulbs of your clitoris rub up against the vaginal wall. If this is the case, vaginal orgasms may be related to clitoral stimulation.
Your clitoris looks different depending on the view.
The part of the clitoris you can see (glans) looks like a tiny nub of flesh that’s hooded (clitoral hood) and surrounded by wrinkly flaps of skin (inner vaginal lips). The glans is often compared to a pea or the bud of a flower. Most diagrams that show the entire clitoris depict it like a wishbone, with both legs of the clitoris (crura) extending across the vaginal wall.
The entire clitoris, from the glans to the crura, is about 3 1/2 to 4 1/4 inches long and about 2 1/2 inches wide. The glans is about 3/4 inch to 1 inch in diameter.
Your clitoris contains a complex network of erectile tissue and nerves that make it your most highly sensitive erogenous zone.
Except for your glans, your clitoris consists of erectile tissue that fills with blood and expands when stimulated. This erectile tissue is similar to the tissue in the penis. When you’re aroused, the crura and the vestibule bulbs can expand so much that they cause your labia to swell. Your swollen labia may partially or completely cover your glans. Or, the swelling may cause your glans to stick out more.
Inside your body, the swelling adds pressure to your vaginal wall. The squeezing stimulates lubrication inside your vagina, which increases feelings of pleasure and accommodates vaginal penetration.
Your glans is filled with nerve endings that make it incredibly sensitive. It’s so sensitive that applying too much pressure or touching the glans directly during sex may feel painful. Multiple nerve bundles and nerve endings create these sensations in your clitoris. Important nerves in your clitoris include:
The glans alone contains about 8,000 nerve endings. Your clitoris has more nerve endings than any other part of your vulva. Together, these nerves can produce a range of pleasurable sensations, depending on how your clitoris is touched and how sexually aroused you are.
Clitoromegaly describes a clitoris that’s larger than what’s considered normal. It often results from exposure to too many androgens (sex hormones associated with being designated male at birth) when you’re still a fetus. It may lead to congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). With CAH, your clitoris may resemble a small penis. Conditions that arise from hormone imbalances, like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), can also lead to an especially large clitoris.
Many conditions that affect your vulva, in general, can affect your clitoris, too.
If the appearance of your clitoris changes suddenly, your provider may order imaging or a biopsy to check for cancer.
A provider may order blood tests to check hormone levels if an infant is born with an unusually large clitoris. They may recommend genetic tests to diagnose disorders of sex differentiation, including instances when a baby has ambiguous genitalia.
Historically providers altered ambiguous genitals surgically to make them look more conventionally “male” or “female” (clitoroplasty). Increasingly, intersex individuals are deciding on their own whether they would prefer medical interventions. Often, surgery isn’t needed unless anatomical differences interfere with your urethra (the tube that carries urine out of your body), making it difficult to pee.
Keep your clitoris healthy by:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
The relationship between the clitoris and sexual pleasure may make you feel embarrassed to talk or even think about your clitoris. But your clitoris is an important part of your sexual health. Explore your clitoris so that you know what type of stimulation feels pleasurable — instead of painful — during sex. Communicate what feels good to your partner. This kind of exploration can prevent clitoral soreness during and after sex. It can also connect you with your partner and your sensuality.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/25/2022.
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