Sex and Love

The clitoris and female sexuality

You might know that both male and female babies start out identical, and the penis develops from the same fetal tissue as the clitoris.

It is the presence of the hormone testosterone in the male baby which causes the tissue to develop into a penis. Just imagine, all the sensitivity of your penis, concentrated into something the size of a clitoris.

Wow! Imagine it. Nothing to do except produce orgasms and make the woman feel good. Hardly surprising that they complain when we ignore it!

And complain they do, because all the studies show the same thing: the majority of women need direct stimulation of the clitoris to have an orgasm.

In Shere Hite's research on the sexual sensitivity of women, the most common complaint was that men don't take the time and trouble to find out how women best like to be aroused. Now, I'm not an expert.

But you want to know more, don't you? You want to know how to find the clitoris, stimulate it, caress it, and prepare your woman for enjoyment?

Small but perfectly formed

At only 22 weeks of gestation, the clitoris has already formed in a female baby and looks just as it will when she is born. The clitoris has a cylindrical structure with three sections - hood, glans, and shaft. But the structure is not easily seen. The shaft is hidden in the flesh of the vulva.

The only part easily visible is the glans with its hood at the point where the labia minora join together. The glans is similar in appearance to the head of the penis (although tiny) but it doesn't have an opening.

From the glans, the shaft of the clitoris extends below the muscular tissue of the vulva.

The shaft, covered in fibrous-elastic tissue, is the essential part of the clitoris which leads women towards orgasm. It can sometimes be stimulated simply by gently caressing the mount of Venus (mons pubis).

Because it is so hidden away, the clitoris is very difficult to measure.

In a newborn baby it's about 4 or 5 millimeters and by the time a woman is fully grown it averages some 16 millimeters. It's most notable characteristic is that it has no practical purpose other than pleasure.

It is made up of a mass of nerve endings - 8,000 or so - which is a higher concentration than any other organ in the body, including the fingertips, lips and tongue.

It is twice as sensitive as the penis.

The feminine phases of sexual response

Sexologists have divided women's sexual response into four phases: arousal, plateau, orgasm and resolution. These are arbitrary definitions and a woman may not necessarily be aware of her body experiencing each separate phase.

The length of time she remains in each phase, and even the order of the phases is something very individual.

A woman may become aroused several times during a date or encounter, without being fully aware of it and without reaching the plateau phase. She may experience arousal and also the plateau phase while out dancing, but return to her normal non-aroused state on the way home.

Once at home, she might become aroused very quickly and have an orgasm without experiencing the plateau phase at all.

The way in which each person experiences each phase is unique, and will also vary according to her mood, the situation and whom she is with.


While a man's erection is an obvious sign of masculine arousal, in women the signs of arousal are not always obvious to men. They are:

Lubrication of the vaginal walls. Once sexual stimulation has started (either physical, by touching the genital area, the breasts or another erogenous zone, or mental stimulation by way of erotic thoughts) there is an increased blood flow to the walls of the vagina and secretion of lubricating moisture in the vagina and vulva.

The speed of lubrication varies from one woman to another, but it usually starts between 10 and 30 seconds after stimulation begins.

This lubrication is very important as it makes intercourse comfortable. However, men need to understand that just because a woman is well lubricated it does not necessarily mean she is ready for penetration.

Engorgement of the clitoris. As we have already seen, the clitoris is similar in structure to the penis and has a little bulb at the end like the head of the penis.

This becomes erect when a woman is sexually excited, swelling up to twice its normal size.

The size of the clitoris is very variable and, like the penis, size bears no relation to the extent of satisfaction obtained during orgasm.

Engorgement of the breasts. Erection of the nipples, through contraction of the muscle fibers surrounding them, occurs during the arousal phase. Usually one nipple goes hard before the other, a phenomenon which can also be seen in some men.

Erection of the nipples occurs through the same mechanism as that which produces erection of the penis and clitoris, i.e., an increase of blood flow to the area.

The breasts also swell, so that their size increases during the arousal phase and the areolas (the area surrounding the nipple) may also become swollen.

Swelling of the vaginal lips. Both the outer lips (labiae majorae) and the inner lips (labiae minorae) fill with blood. This increases their size and exposes the clitoris. (Normally the clitoris is hidden where the lips join.)

Increased capacity of the vagina. The vagina is a kind of virtual cavity: normally the walls are touching each other but they separate to form a space when the penis enters.

During the arousal phase, the uterus (womb) moves backwards to make the vagina more cylindrical and permit the entry of the penis. There is an increased blood flow to the vagina.

This also makes the walls of the vagina smoother, whereas when the woman is not aroused they have a corrugated appearance. Lubrication (see above) makes the vagina wet and slippery and easy for the penis to enter.

Other physical changes. During arousal, both men and women will experience heavier breathing and a more rapid heartbeat. Blood pressure increases and the voluntary muscles go into a cycle of contraction and relaxation.

Some 75 percent of women (and some men) will experience a flush, or reddish skin rash, on the chest or abdomen, or elsewhere on the body.

The plateau

During the plateau phase a women may experience:
  • A marked increase in sexual tension.
  • Increasing vaso-congestion (engorgement) in the vagina causing swelling of the outer third of the vagina, which results in the vaginal opening narrowing by some 30-40%.
  • The internal two thirds of the vagina swell up further. The woman may experience some sensations in the vagina and a deep desire to be penetrated.
  • The amount of vaginal lubrication may diminish, especially if this phase is prolonged.
  • The clitoris becomes increasingly erect and the angle moves upwards towards the mons pubis.
  • The inner lips become 2 or 3 times thicker than usual.
  • The increase in thickness of the inner lips can push the outer lips apart so that the vaginal opening becomes more obvious and visible.
  • The color of the inner lips changes considerably: from reddish to red or from bright red to dark wine color. The actual colors may vary, but the depth of color change remains the same.
  • The areola, the pigmented area around the nipple, starts to swell.
  • The breasts can swell up to 25 percent in some women.
  • 50-70% of woman experience a 'sex flush' on the breasts or elsewhere, caused by the increased flow of blood to the skin.
  • The heart's rhythm increases and the heartbeat may be audible.
  • There is a marked increase in muscular tension in the thighs and buttocks.
  • At this stage the woman's body is completely ready for intercourse.
Masters and Johnson observed that they never saw a woman experience orgasm without first seeing a dramatic color change of the labia. If a woman reaches the point of labial color change, it is likely that she will have an orgasm. if she has any significant degree of fear of sexual intercourse, or any fear of intimacy, she will not reach orgasm easily, if at all.

If you look at the list above of physical changes in the aroused woman, you will see that she is not ready for penetration until all of those things have occurred, well into the plateau phase. Vaginal lubrication alone does not signify that she's ready.

Women need long sessions of foreplay to become fully aroused, and sexual intercourse will then be much more exciting and pleasurable for both the man and the woman.


During her orgasm phase a woman may experience the following:
  • Rhythmic muscular contractions in the outer part of the vagina, the uterus and the anus. The first contractions are the most intense and occur at a rate of just over 1 per second. As the contractions diminish, they occur more randomly. In a gentle orgasm there may be 3-5 contractions, in an intense one 10-15 contractions.
  • The 'sex flush' may become more intense and spread to a greater proportion of the body.
  • Muscles throughout the body can contract during orgasm, not only those in the pelvic area.
  • Orgasm also causes changes in brain chemistry, the chief one being the release of hormones which produce desire for intimacy and connection.
  • Some women will spurt or drip fluid from the urethra during orgasm - this is know as female ejaculation. Women usually have very strong orgasms when this occurs.
  • Vaso-congestion may be evident throughout the body, especially in the face, hands and feet. The facial expression of a woman experiencing a very pleasurable orgasm may be similar to an expression of pain.
  • At the peak of orgasm, the whole body may become temporarily rigid.
  • If stimulation continues, the woman may experience more than one orgasm (multiple orgasms).
Masters and Johnson tell us: Women often describe the sensations of orgasm as starting with a momentary feeling of being 'on the edge' or 'in mid-air', followed rapidly by intensely pleasurable sexual sensations which start in the clitoris and radiate out through the pelvis.

The physical sensations in the genitals are often described as 'hot' or 'electric' and radiating out to the whole body. The majority of women experience muscular contraction in the vagina or lower pelvis, often described as 'pelvic palpitations'.


During the phase of resolution a woman may experience the following:

  • The vagina and vaginal opening return to their normal size.
  • The breasts, labia, clitoris and uterus regain their normal size, position and color.
  • The clitoris and nipples may be very sensitive, so that touching them is uncomfortable.
  • The 'sex flush' disappears.
  • There may be heavy perspiration and rapid breathing, which gradually slow down and return to normal.
  • The heart rate gradually returns to normal.
  • If a woman does not have an orgasm, she will experience all the above but in a less intense way. In orgasm, engorged blood is released through muscular contractions, so if this does not occur she may experience some pelvic discomfort. Detumescence - the organs returning to their normal size and shape - may take longer.

Other pages:

Sexual anatomy and function
Women's arousal & sex
Male Sexual Pleasure
Tantric sex
Sex positions for orgasm
Manifestation Law Attraction
Women & sex
Sex and sexuality
Making love and having sex
Desire, excitement and orgasm
How to improve your sex life

Male power
The clitoris & female sexuality

The Tao of Badass is a great program for men who have similar issues - it's about increasing confidence, ensuring men know how to approach and treat women, and above all, ensuring they can make love well.

Updated 23 February 2020