How To Touch A Clit (Specifically, Your Own)

We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now on to this week's question: learning how to touch your clitoris.

Q: “I’m trying to learn how to masturbate and feeling embarrassingly lost. My clit is hard to locate sometimes, and I can’t even get a sense of what feels good. Sometimes I can hardly feel anything, and sometimes it feels really uncomfortable, even borderline painful. I can’t even focus on orgasm or masturbation techniques right now — I need to learn how to touch my clit!”

A: Thanks for your question! There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. This is one of my specialties (I've even created an online program dedicated to helping women learn how to orgasm). Kudos to you for wanting to learn what your body likes. With 8,000 nerve endings packed into such a small area, the clit requires a certain level of finesse. That being said, there are some simple techniques for making the experience more enjoyable. Here are seven tips for getting to know your clit better.

Step 1: Find It

Your first step to a better relationship with your clit is making sure you’re on the right spot. I highly recommend grabbing a hand mirror and getting up close and personal with your genitals. Since we women have been socialized to believe that our genitals are “ugly” and” weird,” a lot of women feel uncomfortable with this step. But it’s hard to feel pleasure from a part of your body that you haven’t even seen.

First, locate your outer labia (the “lips” that have pubic hair on them), then your inner labia (the set that don’t have any hair). Trace the line of your inner labia up towards your head. Your clitoris should be located in the area where your inner labia join together. It may be covered by a small flap of skin known as the clitoral hood, so you may need to pull upwards on the skin around the area to help the clitoris peek out.

Step 2: Don’t Have Any Expectations

It’s really important to recognize that every woman has her own unique experiences with her clitoris. I get a lot of emails from women who are concerned about their clitorises being “too sensitive” or “not sensitive enough,” but there really are no “rights” or “wrongs” when it comes to the clitoris. Different bodies experience pleasure in different ways.

Think about it like a back massage — some people love getting their backs practically pulverized, while other people prefer really gentle caresses. There’s nothing wrong with either approach, they’re just preferences. Similarly, there’s no point in touching your clitoris with any expectations of what you should or shouldn’t like. Try to go into your explorations with an open mind. If you feel yourself getting judgmental about your clit’s response (or lack of response), take a deep breath in the moment and talk yourself through it. Say something like, “OK, I’m getting caught up in my expectations again, but let me try to focus my attention on what my body is actually feeling. What feels good for me right now?”

3. Use Lube

I highly recommend using lube every time you touch yourself. I can’t stress how important this tip is! Lube is your clit’s best friend. The clitoris doesn’t get a lot of direct contact, especially if yours is pretty tucked up under your clitoral hood. It’s made of thin, delicate tissues that can be susceptible to pain and discomfort.

The lube creates a bit of a protective barrier over the clitoris, preventing your fingertips from tugging or aggravating the tissues. It also helps your fingers glide over your clitoris, making the experience more pleasurable. Lube can be particularly fantastic for women who are just starting to explore, since it’s likely you might be feeling a little anxious and not particularly turned on. I prefer silicone-based lubes like Pjur Original since they last longer and have a silkier feel.

4. Make It Sexy

Again, every woman is different, but it’s usually best to avoid touching your clitoris until you’re feeling nice and turned on. This can be challenging when you’re first starting your masturbatory adventures, since, like I said before, you might be feeling anxious. A lot of women judge themselves for not knowing what they like, or they feel rushed to “figure it out” quickly. But your clitoris can’t be bullied into feeling good!

I can completely understand feeling embarrassed or anxious, but try to see if you can make the experience of touching yourself sexy. Light some candles, put on music that turns you on, or put on your favorite lingerie. Try to give yourself lots of time. Run your hands all over your body. Tease yourself over your clothes. Once you’re down to bare skin, stroke all around the clit without directly touching it. Try to tease yourself to the point where you’re actually craving more.

5. Start Gentle

In general, I recommend starting slow and gentle with the clitoris. Again, every woman has different levels of sensitivity, but I think it’s best to err on the side of caution. Better to touch your clit so gently that you don’t feel anything than to be so rough that you cause yourself pain.

Try circling your finger around your clitoris, scooting closer and closer until your finger is grazing against the sides of your clitoris. If that feels good, try gliding your finger across the surface of your clitoris. Again, start very soft. Work your way up with the level of pressure you use until you find something that feels good but not uncomfortable. If you start feeling discomfort at any point, back off and go back to circling your clitoris.

6. Try Indirect Touch

Some women like touching the clitoris directly, but lots of women don’t. Again, there are no “rights” or “wrongs” here, just different bodies. If you aren’t enjoying direct touch, or if it ever feels too intense, you may want to try backing off a bit and focusing on indirect touch. It’s also worth exploring even if you do like direct touch. There are lots of different techniques you can try:

  • Keep your underwear on, and stroke your clitoris over the fabric.
  • Stroke your clitoral hood instead of the clitoris itself.
  • Pull your outer or inner labia together and use them to indirectly rub the clitoris.
  • Try grinding against a pillow.

7. Be Flexible

The clitoris likes to be touched in different ways based on how turned on you are, how comfortable you are with yourself or your partner, the timing in your cycle, or even pure random coincidence. So there’s no way to hone in on a specific touch or technique that you’re going to love every single time.

Let’s go back to the back massage analogy. I’m willing to be that you’ve had some days where an intense back massage felt great, and some days where that level of pressure felt like way too much. The body’s preferences are constantly changing. When you’re exploring your clitoris, try to be open to different types of touch and levels of pressure. If something isn’t working for you on any particular day, don’t get hung up on it. Move on to something else. Rather than judging your clitoris as “fickle” or “complicated,” think of how cool it is that it can have so many different types of experiences!

Have fun exploring!

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