Little man in the boat, nubbin, chickpea, rosebud, love button, joy buzzer, cherry pit, beetle’s bonnet—the clitoris has more nicknames than P.Diddy, but it still remains an elusive little sucker. We bet most people could list more pet names for the clitoris than facts about how it works. Here are five key facts to help restore the balance:
1. The clitoris is the only organ in the entire human body, whether male or female, whose sole purpose is sexual pleasure. We’ll say that again: The clitoris has one job in this big, bad world: to transmit sexual sensation. And it does that job pretty well.
2. You know one reason why it does that job so well? Because the clitoral head has around 8,000 nerve endings—more than any other structure in the human body, again either male or female. The oh-so-sensitive penis, on the other hand? Around 4,000 nerve endings.
3. You can call the clitoris a chickpea if you like, but that’s actually just the clitoral head you’re referring to. The clitoris as a whole is a complex structure that extends throughout a woman’s genitals—what you can see outside the body, i.e. the clitoral head and its hood, is only about a quarter of the entire organ. (It’s too bad Marie Bonaparte—great grand niece to Napoleon—didn’t know this before she had her clitoral head surgically relocated closer to the vagina in an effort to climax during intercourse. Let’s just call that a nubbinFail.)
4. We feel her pain, though, we really do. (Well, not literally.) Fifty to seventy-five percent of women who orgasm need clitoral stimulation in order to climax—and considering the distance between the clitoral head and the vaginal opening, they can’t typically get there by penetration alone.
5. People often like to think of the vagina as the female counterpart to the male penis, but biologically speaking, the clitoris actually holds this honor: Babies start off with the same genital tissue in utero, and the tissue that eventually develops into a penis in a boy, develops into the clitoris in a girl. And yes, the clitoris also has a glans, a foreskin, and a shaft—and just like a penis, the clitoris fills with blood and becomes engorged during arousal. And here’s a take-home tip for you: Just like penises, clitorises can take more intense and more varied stimulation when they are well-lubed.
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