Why you need to know where your clitoris is

The Guardian logoThe Guardian recently reported on a study that found 37% of Britons could not accurately identify a clitoris.

The work, “Public understanding of female genital anatomy and pelvic organ prolapse (POP); a questionnaire-based pilot study,” was published in the International Urogynecology Journal. El-Hamamsy, Parmar, Shoop-Worrall, et al. concluded “There was poor public understanding of external female genital anatomy and POP [pelvic organ prolapse]…”.

I find the results of this study a reason to create a blog to raise awareness and also introduce you to helpful resources to rectify this issue:

Orgasm Answer GuideThe clitoris is reported to be the most sensitive erogenous zone on a female body by many female-identified individuals and it is not just what we can see on the outside, as it also has a big part of it inside the vagina. We also have research to show that many women experience clitoral orgasm as a more intense form of sensation in comparison to other forms (you can reference our book Orgasm Answer Guide to learn more about these).

If 37% of Britons can’t find or identify their clitoris, then the sexual pleasure they experience or provide to a female partner will arguably be greatly diminished. Although working across the world, I have seen that many women incorporate clitoral touch in their experience of sexual pleasure while they might not be familiar with what it is called and where it is located exactly.

The study did not just ask about anatomy, but also inquired about pelvic organ prolapse [POP]. As The Guardian reported, “Whereas most people understood what stroke and diabetes were, 53% had an understanding of what a pelvic organ prolapse [is], while only 23% knew what fibroids were – even though both conditions affect a third of women at some point in their lives.” Nonetheless, being able to locate, identify and name various parts of our genitalia and reproductive organs (one being clitoris) will help us notice any issues or health concerns that might develop at any given time and be able to seek help from the appropriate provider in an appropriate way.

Co-author of this research paper, Stephanie Shoop-Worrall, an epidemiologist at the University of Manchester, brought up the correlation between knowledge and consent as well which is another critical reason as why everyone needs to have the knowledge and verbage to articulate about their genital and reproductive organs. She reminds us that: “If a doctor is going to examine you, or suggest any kind of treatment plan, you need to fully understand what’s going to happen, and the risks and benefits, to be able to give permission. If people are coming in for their hospital appointment and not understanding basic anatomy, or what’s even wrong with them, how can they properly consent to treatment?”

The good news is that adults can pursue their own knowledge, on an academic, anatomical, and personal level. Self-awareness is imperative for pleasure, health, and informed consent.

Two great resources on this topic that I can recommend are a book by my dear colleague Dr. Laurie Mintz titled Becoming Cliterate and an informative and accessible website titled Pussypedia .

Here are also a few questions to get you started on your own:

Sexual Literacy

  • When was the last time you went for a GYN check up? Did you understand what was explained to you? Did they explain it? Did you get to ask questions?
  • Have you ever read any books or proactively searched for any evidence-informed resource to educate yourself about your genitals and reproductive organs
  • What do you know about your genitals? Where did you learn what you know? How reliable were the sources?
  • Do you know if your genitalia has been altered in any way? What does that mean for your experiences and expressions of pleasure?

Sexual Fluency

  • How do you refer to your genitalia and its various parts? Did you have a name for your genitalia growing up? Would you have chosen the same name knowing what you know now?
  • Can you articulate different types of pleasure and pain/discomfort that you experience in the gental area with clear distinctions?
  • If you are in a relationship with a female partner, can you name their body parts? Have you asked them to walk you through different touches that feel good, ok or uncomfortable for them?