Can A Vibrator Desensitize You? 5 Clitoris Myths To Stop Believing

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

The clitoris is having a moment. People are finally recognizing that it's the epicenter of many vulva owners' sex lives, and research is shining light on its large and complex structure. Yet many myths about the clitoris remain.

To give you a primer, the clitoris is the little bud that sticks out at the top of your vulva — but it's also much more, with a whole internal structure hugging the vaginal canal. So, the pleasure many women feel inside the vagina may actually be clitoral pleasure.

The clitoris and the penis develop from the same structure in the womb, so they function pretty similarly. The get erect when they're aroused, and they often get hypersensitive after orgasm. Some even refer to the clitoris as a small penis, with the United States National Library of Medicine calling it "an erectile structure homologous with the penis." But it could just as easily be said that the penis is a big clitoris, especially since the organ in a developing fetus starts off more like a clitoris.

Here are a few myths about the clitoris that just won't die. Let's clear these up once and for all so we can celebrate the clitoris for the marvelous organ it is.

1The Clitoris Has Twice As Many Nerve Endings As The Penis

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Feminists love to cite this statistic, and it's understandable why: It suggests that, contrary to popular belief, the penis isn't superior to the vulva. The problem is, nobody's quite sure where this figure comes from. According to popular belief, the clitoris has 8,000 nerve endings while the penis has 4,000. But by other estimates, the clitoris and the head of the penis both contain 7,000 nerve endings.

Good Vibrations staff sexologist Carol Queen tells Bustle that whatever the exact numbers are, they're probably pretty similar between the clitoris and the penis. "Because the clitoris and the penis develop from the exact same tissue in utero before growing to their relative sizes, the clitoris is generally denser in terms of its neurology, but that doesn't mean it is served by twice as many nerves," she says. The part about the penis not being superior is still true, though. It's not a competition!

2Bigger, More Visible Clits Are More Sensitive

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As someone with what seems to be a relatively small, hooded clitoris, I take this myth personally: We do not enjoy sex less. An OB/GYN at a spa for vaginal treatments once recommended I get a "clitoral dehooding" procedure so my partners wouldn't have to "pull it back"! So let's clear up that myth, too: You do not have to pull the hood back or touch the clitoris directly to orgasm. Stroking a hooded clitoris feels great! As the similarity between the clitoris and penis proves, bigger size does not equal more pleasure.

"What determines sensitivity is neurology; body chemistry (such as hormonal levels); and one's relationship to arousal," says Queen. "These things don't depend upon shape and size. ... Plenty of people with tiny clits are very sensitive." Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist and founder of Finishing School, an online orgasm course for women, agrees. "It doesn't matter if your clitoris is large or small, prominent or hidden, exposed or hooded," she tells Bustle. "You're perfectly capable of experiencing pleasure."

3Vibrators Will Desensitize It

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If your clit feels numb after using a vibrator, this does not mean you've numbed it out permanently. Queen puts it this way: If you sit on your hand, it'll become numb due to the pressure. Same goes with the clit if you overwhelm it with intense vibrations. But guess what? It'll go back to normal.

Another reason people might think vibrators desensitize you is that it's so much easier to orgasm with one than it is with a hand, a mouth, or (certainly) a penis. If you're used to coming in less than a minute with your trusty Hitachi Magic Wand or Satisfyer Pro 2, orgasming with the assistance of a mere mortal may feel like work. But it's probably no more work than it was before you got the vibrator. If you're worried about getting used to vibrator-induced pleasure and getting out of practice with other methods, Marin recommends only using a vibrator half the time.  

4What You See Is What You Get

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Many people don't know about the internal clitoris. But the truth is, the part you see is just the tip of the iceberg. "Your clitoris actually extends up into the body and splits off into two legs," Marin says. Not only that, but there are bulbs between the legs. Refer to the handy GIF above.

This isn't just a fun fact: It's an opportunity to experiment with different kinds of touch. You can play with the inner clitoris by pressing your palm or a toy against your labia, stroking the inside of your vagina, or pulling the pubic mound up and down. This organ is so vast and expansive, pretty much any touch on the vulva will stimulate it.

5It's Just A Bonus

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Some still view intercourse as the main course and consider clitoral stimulation a side dish or appetizer. But for the great majority of vulva-owners, vaginal penetration just doesn't do it. Only a quarter of women consistently orgasm through intercourse alone, according to a meta-analysis by Elisabeth Lloyd in The Case of the Female Orgasm.

This also means that, contrary to popular belief, inability to orgasm during intercourse is not a problem to be solved. But if you want to, a vibe on your clit should do the trick. May I recommend Eva or Fin?

All in all, though, the hype about the clit is true: It's a powerful sexual organ that brings tons of pleasure to its owners and their partners. Don't disrespect it.