In my practice I see a lot of women who tell me: there is something wrong with me, I can’t have an orgasm when I have sex with my partner. I have no problem on my own, but with my partner it just doesn’t happen.
I am always surprised how many people are unaware of the fact that only between 20 per cent of women can achieve an orgasm by penetrative sex alone.
The majority of women need clitoral stimulation to climax, which can be achieved by the touching, rubbing, caressing or pressing of the clitoris by their partner’s fingers or their own. Oral sex is another highly pleasurable way because of the direct focus on the clitoris.
So what does the clitoris look like? It turns out, it is not just a little “button”. Our own Dr Helen O’Connell, a urology surgeon in Melbourne published a paper in The Journal of Urology in 1998 where she argued that the clitoris is much larger than previously thought.
The larger part is hidden inside the pelvic area. The external “head” is attached to the internal body which is divided into clitoral “legs” that could be as long as nine centimetres. These wrap around the vagina and the urethra and, like the penis, they swell with blood when aroused.
It is really time that both men and women learn more about the only female body part that exists purely for pleasure. The Museum of Sex in New York has a brilliant website showing all the information about the clitoris you can possible find, and this amusing educational video from sex educator Betty Dodson will make you smile.
Four years ago New York artist Sophia Wallace started work on a multi-media project which she hoped would serve to challenge the misconceptions about the clitoris. The ongoing project is called "100 Natural Laws of Cliteracy", and has been shown in an exhibition that includes a series of prints, street art and clothing, and features an interactive installation of a giant golden clitoris.
She created a large 10-feet by 13-feet installation, with a six-foot neon "Cliteracy" sign which hangs suspended from the ceiling. Wallace wanted to create something so big that anyone standing next to it would feel small. She used scientific data, historical information and references to architecture, porn, pop culture and human rights.
Another sex educator Dr Paul Joannides, wrote an award-winning book on sex The Guide To Getting It On that is used in college sex-education courses in the US and Canada. In this terrific 18+ educational video he explains how the clitoris works.
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It’s important for men and women to know that the equivalent of a penis in a woman is not the vagina, it’s her clitoris. Women get erections when they’re excited, only you can’t see them because most of the clitoris is internal as Joannides shows in the video.
None of this information is taught in our local high schools. In more progressive countries like France, socio-medical researcher Odile Fillod in collaboration with photographer Marie Docher created the world’s first open-source, 3D printable, anatomically accurate and realistic representation of the clitoris for use in schools and classrooms.
Fillod hopes that doctors as well as school teachers, will use her sculpture to learn – and teach – the truth about the female body. She stated: "France has the reputation for being sexually sophisticated, but often it’s mainly about male sexuality."
However she is optimistic about the future. “If women understand that they have an erectile system just like men, I believe they will start to experiment more. I hope they will understand that pleasure is not some magic that only a partner knows how to give”.
Do you know enough about your own sexual health?