The following is a modified excerpt from my book Sex Yourself: The Woman's Guide to Mastering Masturbation and Achieving Powerful Orgasms.
What's there to learn about pleasure? Isn't it pretty straightforward? You stick your hand down and feel around and voilà! -- the earth shakes and you're done. Despite what porn and Hollywood lead us to believe, women's erotic networks of nerve endings, erogenous zones, and pleasure options are more complicated than for penises. While erotic hotspots and pleasure techniques in men are generally more universal and consistently popular, the sources of arousal and pleasure in women are more varied from person-to-person. And each person's preference for type of touch and stimulation can vary significantly.
Enjoy exploring these territories of our erotic geography -- and all the pleasurable possibilities that come with it. Let's take a tour "down there."
Inner lips/labia: These are two folds of skin that are easiest to see when you spread your legs and the outer lips flatten out. The inner lips vary in size, shape, and colour. And they are not there just for decoration! They have tons of nerve endings, so if you're lucky enough to have larger labia, you have more to grab onto and pleasure. You can roll them between your thumb and forefinger like you would roll a pen. Because the inner labia extend up and around to form the hood of the clitoris, stimulation of the lips indirectly rubs the clitoris.
Urethral opening: This is the opening out of which urine/pee -- and, for some women, female ejaculate -- comes. It can be difficult to see, and it's sometimes located almost inside the vaginal opening.
U-spot: This doughnut-shaped area surrounding the urethral opening fills with blood and becomes sensitive when you're sexually aroused. Use plenty of lubrication to stimulate. The U-spot is the beginning of the famed G-spot, which extends internally along the front wall of the vagina.
What we usually think of as the clitoris is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The whole clit is shaped like a turkey wishbone.
1. The clitoral head or glans is often very sensitive, with over 8,000 nerve endings: more than any other part of the human body! Since it can be hidden under the clitoral hood, it might be difficult to see.
2. Extending from the clitoral head, the clitoral shaft ducks up and underneath the hood. Like the shaft of the penis, it's not usually as sensitive as the head, but stimulating it over the clitoral hood still offers a lot of sensation -- and can take a fair bit of pressure. Try giving it a "her-job" (like a small hand-job for the penis)!
3. The clitoral legs look like the two longer parts of a turkey's wishbone. Since they're located deeper inside the body, they're a bit harder to stimulate.
The very unsexy-sounding but awesome vestibular bulbs are located beneath the skin's surface, between the inner and outer labia, and attach to the shaft of the clitoris. Increased blood flow to the area during sexual arousal causes this erectile tissue to puff up and change in colour. Unlike the clitoris that sometimes feels too sensitive to touch, the vestibular bulbs usually feel great to pleasure with some lube and even a little pressure.
Opening: The opening to the vagina has lots of nerve endings but we often don't pay enough attention to this shallower area because of what we've been told vaginas are supposed to love: bigger, harder, faster and deeper. Tune in to this sensitive area: touching shallowly and stroking it in circles rather than thrusting can feel fantastic.
Perineal sponge: This is erectile tissue that's located between the anus and the vagina, about a thumb's depth inside the vagina and towards its back wall. You can feel it by placing one finger inside the vagina and pushing down and/or one inside the anus and pushing up.
Urethral sponge or G-spot: The G-spot is about one to three inches long and located on the front wall of the vagina, anywhere from just the opening to a full finger's depth inside. That said, the G-spot is not situated in the vagina: since it's erectile tissue that surrounds the urethra, you feel it through the front wall of the vagina. But get aroused before trying to find it. And if you feel like you have to go pee, that usually means you've hit the spot. Breathe through it and enjoy the sensations.
A-Spot, or anterior fornix erogenous zone (AFE): Also known as the "second G-spot," this sensitive area is also located on the front wall of the vagina, but it's deeper inside than the G-spot, and isn't as spongy or rippled. It might be harder to reach using your fingers alone.
Cervix: The cervix is the entrance to the uterus, and it's about two to three centimeters long, with a very small opening that's just big enough to allow fluid (like semen and menstrual blood) to move in and out. It's an erogenous zone for some women, especially when it's bumped gently but it can be very uncomfortable for others, so explore carefully.
Cul-de-sac: When the vagina elongates with arousal to accommodate penetration, it leaves a little pouch or cul-de-sac (dead end) behind the cervix. It's one of the lesser-known erogenous zones since it's a bit harder to reach, but stimulating it can be intensely pleasurable. Accessing the cul-de-sac usually requires deeper thrusting, or the insertion of small metal "ben wa" balls deep into the vagina before penetration.
Your body is yours to enjoy throughout your sexual lifespan. It is never too late to start exploring. For more information, see my book Sex Yourself: The Woman's Guide to Mastering Masturbation and Achieving Powerful Orgasms.
About the author: Carlyle Jansen is the founder of Good For Her, Toronto's premiere sexuality shop and workshop centre. Read more of her blogs on Her Magazine.
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