5 Facts About the Clitoris

Let’s shine a spotlight on one of the less talked about parts of the female body, the clitoris. This small, yet mighty organ has long been shrouded in stigma, but now it’s time to reveal some surprising facts about the clitoris. Join us as we dive right into explaining what the clitoris is, its role in our reproductive health, and why it’s so important that we all get to know our bodies better.

Clitoris illustration showing both the internal and external parts sparkling

What is the clitoris?

The clitoris is a bulb-shaped sexual organ that’s part of the female reproductive system. It’s known as an erogenous organ, meaning it plays a key role in sexual pleasure. In fact, pleasure is its primary purpose, which we’ll go into more detail on later.

Where is the clitoris?

The clitoris is found at the top of the vulva at the point where the inner labia meet. This fold of skin is known as the clitoral hood. Now that we’ve answered what the clitoris is, and where you can find it, let’s dive into our five facts about the clitoris. 

1. It’s bigger than you might think….

From the outside, the clitoris might look small, but the bit you can see is just the tip of the iceberg. Most of the clitoris is internal and isn’t visible. The bit of the clitoris that can be seen is about the size of a pea. However, in total, the clitoris can be as long as 5 inches (12 cm) long! Not sounding so small now, huh? While we’re on the subject of size, did you know that in early fetal development, the penis and the clitoris actually start out the same? They form into the different sexual organs around week nine of pregnancy. 

2. ...and it grows

Just like the penis, when aroused, blood rushes to the clitoris, causing it to swell and become erect. This increased blood flow also causes the rest of the vulva to deepen in color too. The clitoris isn’t the only part of the vulva that changes when aroused, the vagina also widens and deepens.

3. It’s purely for pleasure

There are a few theories behind the evolutionary purpose of the clitoris, but when it comes down to it, it doesn’t play a direct role in human reproduction, it’s just there to make us feel good! We think it’s pretty cool that humans aren’t alone in finding sex enjoyable, many more mammals like to do it too. A study conducted last year found there are some striking similarities between the human and dolphin clitoris…and just like it is for us, it’s main purpose seems to be for pleasure.

4. ...and it’s the pleasure center

A recent study found that a mere 18% of women can reach orgasm through only having penetrative vaginal sex. When you think of how we learn about sex and how it’s portrayed in films and on TV, that’s quite a startling statistic. The female orgasm hasn’t been honestly depicted - it’s perfectly normal to only reach orgasm through clitoral stimulation, and, in fact, women who do climax this way are in the majority. On top of this, there’s even research that suggests that those women who can reach orgasm through penetrative sex can do so because of the placement of the clitoris, meaning it really is the pleasure center! 

5. It’s a natural painkiller

If you suffer from painful period cramps, orgasms can release endorphins, which are a natural way to alleviate discomfort. Climax also causes the uterus to contract more, which in turn can lead to shorter periods too! The dip in the sex hormone progesterone that happens at the start of a new cycle can be responsible for increasing libido. So it’s perfectly normal to experience a high sex drive while you’re bleeding, and, while we’re on the subject, period sex is perfectly normal too. 

Closing the knowledge gap

Historically, there has been a knowledge gap when it comes to women’s reproductive health. The clitoris is no exception, it’s been shrouded in stigma and misconception for centuries. It’s been left out of medical textbooks, dismissed by figures of science, and even today there is a general lack of knowledge and understanding around women’s bodies. Here at Natural Cycles, we are committed to closing the knowledge gap one topic at a time.

Get to know your body better

Natural Cycles is the first and only birth control app to be FDA cleared in the US. It’s a non-hormonal method that works by identifying your fertile window by analyzing your basal body temperature. This same science can also be used to plan a pregnancy in the future. As well as a method to either plan or prevent pregnancy, Natural Cycles can also help you learn more about your body, as you discover the changes that happen throughout your cycle.

Are you ready to learn your unique cycle?

Jen on the roof terrace at Natural Cycles headquarters.

Written By

Jennifer Gray

A writer with a passion for women’s health, Jennifer Gray has years of experience writing about various reproductive health topics including birth control, planning pregnancy, women’s anatomy, and so much more.

Jack in a suit and tie holding a microphone and giving a presentation.

Scientifically Reviewed

Jack Pearson

With 10 years of experience working in the field of fertility, Jack Pearson is Natural Cycles’ in-house expert. As Medical Affairs Manager, he dedicates his time to conducting groundbreaking research and educating healthcare professionals.