the structure of the clitoris, at the heart of female sexual anatomy

  This section is included because of the ongoing debates about various forms of female sexual climax, especially the difference between so-called “vaginal orgasms” and “clitoral orgasms.”  A proper understanding of female sexual anatomy, especially the structure of the clitoris, is helpful for understanding why orgasm through sexual intercourse (“penis-in-vagina”) is readily achievable by women, contrary to the contentions of some people.  This has important consequences for our understanding and practice of marital intimacy.

The following is a more nuanced and complete understanding of female sexual anatomy.


  “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.
   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.
   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.
   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.
   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 pubic 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.
  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. . . Any woman who does this will most definitely experience clitoral stimulation during intercourse. . . . With practice, full clitoral stimulation during vaginal intercourse and gently timed mutual orgasm will result.”

copyright © 1995-2003 catherine yronwode

[For the record, I do not recommend her website, for many reasons, especially its lack of any understanding of the tie between sex and marriage..]

So, a proper understanding of female sexual anatomy demonstrates that sexual intercourse (penis in vagina) is not an inferior form of lovemaking that is insufficiently satisfying to women (especially in being deficient in bringing about orgasms).


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