“Clitoritcy” Class in Session

“Clitoritcy” Class in Session

Let’s cut to the chase. If you’ve ever used a hand mirror to get an up-close look at yourself down there, then you’ve probably wondered about that flap of skin above your labia. What is it? Does every person with a vagina have one? Is it supposed to look like that?

That flap is your clitoral hood, a fold of skin that surrounds and protects your glans clitoris. It’s basically the female equivalent of the male foreskin. And just like labia, clitoral hoods come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Many women worry that their hood doesn’t look “normal,” but there really is no normal. Take a look at these pictures of different clitoral hoods to get a sense of how varied they can really be.

The glans gets all the glory when it comes to sexual pleasure, but there’s a lot more to the clitoris than just that little bud! Read on to learn what the hood is all about, how it affects sexual pleasure, tips for stimulation, and more.

How to find your clitoral hood

The best way to understand what the clitoral hood does begins with knowing exactly where to find it. The glans clitoris sits inside your labia majora (outer lips) and labia minora (inner lips). You’ll find the clitoral hood at the very top of your inner lips.

Wanna get a closer look? Here’s how to find your clitoral hood:

  • Get a hand mirror and get naked from the waist down.
  • Sit on a chair or the end of your bed and open your legs, putting one foot up on the chair or bed.
  • Hold the mirror between your legs and angle it so you can see your vulva.
  • Use your free hand to pull your outer and inner lips apart.
  • Look at the very top of your “slit,” and you’ll see a flap of skin that’s connected to your inner lips.

Voila! Your clitoral hood!


Arousal will cause your clitoris to swell, which should make it — and your hood — easier to find.

What does the hood do?

Your clitoris contains over 15,000 nerve endings. Imagine all of those nerve endings constantly rubbing against the fabric of your clothing all day and night — ouch! The clitoral hood exists to protect this sensitive tissue from excessive stimulation and external irritants.

Glands in your clitoral hood also produce a lubricant called sebum. This helps your hood move smoothly over the glans and shaft of your clitoris.

Does the hood retract?

Yes, it does. When you become sexually aroused, your glans clitoris engorges, just like a penis. This swelling is usually enough to move your hood aside, exposing your glans.

If your hood is larger, it may not retract as easily. This is usually a sign of clitoral adhesions. Adhesions form when bacteria, skin cells, and sebum build up under the hood.

According to research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, more than 1 in 5 women who visit a sexual medicine practice has clitoral adhesions. If left untreated, adhesions can cause extreme pain and interfere with sexual pleasure and orgasm.

Washing more diligently can resolve or prevent clitoral adhesions. If you’re experiencing discomfort, try soaking in a warm bath and washing the area more frequently.

If that doesn’t work, talk to your doctor. They can take a closer look and remove any adhesions.

Can you pull it back yourself?

Generally, yes! Your hood is connected to your inner lips. If you place your fingers at the top of your lips and pull the skin up, you should be able to retract the hood enough to expose the glans clitoris.

You can also place a finger on each inner lip and spread them apart while gently pulling up toward your navel.

Does the size affect your ability to have a clitoral orgasm?

Maybe. Having a hood with more or thicker tissue may affect sensation, but manually retracting your hood or experimenting with different positions can remedy that.

Sometimes applying more pressure when you stimulate your clitoris over your hood may be all you need to up your pleasure.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to what you’re comfortable with. Some women actually prefer stimulation over the hood and find direct clitoral stimulation to be a little too intense.

Can piercing the hood increase sexual pleasure?

According to a 2005 study, vertical clitoral hood piercings don’t have much impact on orgasm and pleasure. But they do seem to increase sexual desire and frequency of arousal.

It isn’t clear whether these findings apply to other clitoral piercings, such as the horizontal clitoral hood and clitoral glans piercings.

If and how a clitoral hood piercing affects your sex life comes down to you. Personal preference, hood size and shape, and level of sensitivity vary from person to person.

Tips for clitoral hood stimulation

With the right moves, you can get the pleasure you crave and use your hood — no matter the shape or size — to your advantage. Here’s how:

Use lube. It doesn’t matter if you’re solo or with a partner — lubricant is always a good idea. Even if you feel like you’re wet enough, adding a little lube can increase your pleasure and stop potential discomfort in its tracks. Shop for lube.

Let your fingers do the walking. Exploring with your fingers is the best way to learn how to get the most pleasure. Try rubbing your clitoris over the hood and then rubbing it directly by using one hand to pull your hood back and expose your glans. Experiment with different amounts of pressure and strokes to see what works for you.

Try the “hand job” technique. Taking your hood between your index and middle finger and sliding it up and down is one way to get some major enjoyment from your hood.

Use a sex toy. Vibrators are a great way to stimulate your clitoris and can be especially helpful if you have a thicker hood that interferes with sensation. Shop for vibrators.

Find the right position. Though intercourse on its own isn’t as likely to get you to orgasm as clitoral stimulation, certain positions may give you the best of both worlds.

Consider the “riding high” position. To try this, lie on your back. Your partner should angle their penis or dildo so that the upper shaft rubs against your clitoris as they thrust. When done properly, each thrust will slide your hood up and down or provide enough pressure over the hood to stimulate your clitoris.

What about reduction?

For women who have excess tissue overhanging the clitoris that causes them increased yeast infections, discomfort during sex, or decreased sexual sensitivity, there’s a procedure called a clitoral hood reduction.

This procedure, also called a hoodectomy or clitoral unhooding, is a surgical procedure to reduce the size of the clitoral hood by removing excess tissue. The procedure is usually performed alongside a labiaplasty, which reduces the size of the labia minora.

Recovery time varies from person to person. You can expect some pain and discomfort while you heal.

If you’re interested in a hoodectomy or other vaginal procedure, talk to your doctor. They can answer any questions you have, discuss potential risks, and potentially refer you to a reputable surgeon in your area.

Female genital cosmetic surgery, when performed by a competent and certified plastic surgeon, has low complication rates and high patient satisfaction.

A hoodectomy shouldn’t be confused with female genital mutilation (FGM). FGM refers to all procedures that involve the partial or complete removal of, or any injury to, the female genital organs. FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of women and girls.

Talk to your doctor

If you’re uncomfortable with the size of your hood — or feel that it’s affecting your ability to experience sexual pleasure — talk to your doctor. They can discuss your concerns and answer any questions you may have about sensation, pleasure, and cosmetic surgery.

More information:

Who says the clitoris is pea-sized? Well, for a very long time, science did. But sometimes science gets it wrong before it gets it right.
And even when science gets it right, sexism still takes the stage and moves away the spotlight. It’s time that both men and women learn that a woman’s pleasure center isn’t a tiny nub: It’s an expansive playground, and we need to relearn the rules to having fun.

Why has the clit been left in the dark?

It’s little wonder that the penis receives the vast amount of attention in research and under the sheets. The male sexual organ isn’t just external. It’s also attached to what has historically been considered the dominant sex. 

The clitoris, on the other hand, took much longer to discover, let alone correctly comprehend. It also has the unique distinction of being the only organ in the human body dedicated solely to pleasure, an amazing fact that has ironically been left neglected by science and romantic partners alike. 

Dr. Sybil Lockhart, PhD, is a mom, neuroscientist, and full-time researcher at OMGYES, a website that focuses on research and content related to understanding and enhancing female pleasure. Lockhart has a few ideas as to why the clitoris has been given the cold shoulder by science. 

“In order to get funding, researchers must often pitch their projects as solutions to problems,” she explains. “But the clitoris is not problematic. It is a pleasure enhancer!” 

“We hope that in 10 or 20 years, health researchers will look back and say, wow, we knew for years how physical exercise and brain exercise improve our longevity and happiness — why didn’t we get to the clitoris sooner?” adds Lockhart.

Not only has the clitoris been largely ignored throughout history, information about it — when given — has often been partial or plainly incorrect. In the 1400s, a guide for finding witches considered the clitoris the “devil’s teat,” and any woman with one was a witch. 

Even in the early 20th century, Freud was convinced a woman’s ability to orgasm was based on her psychological maturity and that only mentally healthy women could have vaginal orgasms. 

Ignorance surrounding the clitoris isn’t just bad for women. It’s also bad news for the significant number of women who experience clitoral pain caused by disease or infection.

Not knowing how to talk about the clitoris — let alone not knowing how a healthy clitoris functions — harms our quality of life, our health, and even our chances at equality in general.

The good news is that the tide is shifting.

On the flip side, knowledge about the clitoris can improve lives 

“What we’ve observed again and again is that as women begin to discuss their pleasure with [OMGYES] and with their sexual partners, they report more fun, improved relationships, and better orgasms,” Lockhart says.

The advent of female doctors and researchers has pushed back against the sexism of science, while general societal changes have made space for open discussion of the clit. 

At the same time, new technology allows us to better see, understand, and utilize all of the clitoris. 

We now know that the tiny, pea-sized body part most people think of as the clitoris is only the gland — and the tip of the iceberg. 

We also know that while “clitoral orgasms” and “vaginal orgasms” were once seen as different entities, all female orgasms are technically the result of clitoral stimulation (i.e., different parts of the iceberg). 

As the award-winning mini-documentary “Le Clitoris” explains, there are two 4-inch roots that reach down from the gland toward the vagina. 

Le clitoris – Animated Documentary (2016) from Lori Malépart-Traversy on Vimeo.

The clitoris might also be the “woman behind the curtain” when it comes to the G-spot. A study using ultrasound found that that magical area is likely so sensitive because the clitoral root is located right behind the anterior vaginal wall.

Reclaim the clitoris and get ‘clitorate’

A growing body of knowledge and research is great. So is a slow lifting of the taboos surrounding sex, female anatomy, and female pleasure. But how can these things help you, your clitoris, and your female pleasure? Well…

Start reading. Lockhart’s research, for example, can be accessed at OMGYES, where it has been condensed into dozens of short videos. 

Say goodbye to taboos. A lot of the ignorance about women’s bodies is because of taboos. It’s time to be open and honest, beginning with the realization that women’s sexual pleasure is good and healthy. Also, our ideas that tie the worth of women to whether they can orgasm solely through penile penetration? That has to go. 

Check out a 3-D model. Unlike the penis, much of the clitoris is internal. You can either check out pictures in the mini-doc above or print out your own three 3-D model. (The website is in French, but you can use Google Translate to find the instructions for the 3-D printer.) 

Schedule a date with yourself. “There are many different ways to touch a clitoris … just as we might prefer different combinations of menu items at a restaurant,” Lockhart says. “Learning and finding words for the particulars of how you or your lover like to be touched can take the pleasure to a whole new level.”

Get your partner involved. Even just talking with your partner about these topics can make you closer and improve your bedroom romps. Once you’re educated, educate the person or people in your life who happen to have a relationship with your clit. 

Talk to your doctor. Women are turned on by many, many different things, and can orgasm in many, many different ways. Some women have trouble reaching orgasm (research) puts the number around 10 percent), while others might have an issue with clitoral health. Both topics are totally normal to talk to your doctor about.

Lockhart has one last tip as well: “After the first orgasm, many women have a completely different sensitivity to touch. One wouldn’t have brisket for two courses in a row. It is well worth one’s time and energy to investigate what new dishes you or she might enjoy for dessert.”

Keep the learning inside and out

The clitoris can seem like a mystery, but the time to get a healthy understanding of it is now. Ignoring or misunderstanding the clitoris is also ignoring female health and pleasure. 

And health and pleasure come from knowledge, so let’s get learning, inside and outside the bedroom. We’ve been in the dark for too long. It’s time for everyone to get clitorate.


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Lowe JS, et al. (2015). Chapter 17: Female reproductive system. Stevens & Lowe’s human histology (4th ed.). DOI:
Millner VS, et al. (2005). First glimpse of the functional benefits of clitoral hood piercings. DOI:
O’Connell HE, et al. (2005). Anatomy of the clitoris. DOI:
What is a clitoral hood reduction? (n.d.).
World Health Organization. (2018). Female genital mutilation [Fact sheet].
Written by Sarah Aswell — Updated on August 22, 2018
Foldes P, et al. (2009). The clitoral complex: A dynamic sonographic study. DOI:
Kramer H, et al. (1486).Malleus maleficarum.
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Malépart-Traversy L. (2016).Le clitoris. [Video file].
O’Connell H, et al. (2005). “Clitoral anatomy in nulliparous, healthy, premenopausal volunteers using unenhanced magnetic resonance imaging. DOI:  
Wallen K, et al. (2011). Female sexual arousal: Genital anatomy and orgasm in intercourse. DOI:  
Foldes P, et al. (2009). The clitoral complex: A dynamic sonographic study. DOI:
Kramer H, et al. (1486).Malleus maleficarum.
Lockhart S. (2017). Personal interview.
Malépart-Traversy L. (2016).Le clitoris. [Video file].
O’Connell H, et al. (2005). “Clitoral anatomy in nulliparous, healthy, premenopausal volunteers using unenhanced magnetic resonance imaging. DOI:  
Wallen K, et al. (2011). Female sexual arousal: Genital anatomy and orgasm in intercourse. DOI:
Photo Credit: Malvestida Magazine

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