For men who sleep with women, the clitoris has always been a bit of a riddle. It’s powerful, yet temperamental; it's feared as much as it is revered. Then, of course, there’s always the old joke about the poor guy who still hasn’t figured out where it is.

But while this fascinating piece of sexual anatomy isn’t nearly as confounding as locker-room humor has made it out to be, really pleasing a clitoris does take some finesse. It’s worth the effort, though. When fully aroused, this area's desire for touch can be insatiable – and its owner can become insatiably orgasmic.

Sounds good, right? But how, exactly, do you get there?

Well, we’ll get into that. In depth. But the answer amounts to one simple word: “charm.”

If, at this point, you are thinking this will be a piece about how to get a woman into bed, turn back now. It isn’t. That one isn’t about charm – it’s about consent, and you had better get some before you even think about getting it on. Got it? Good.

So. Back on topic: If you want to please a clitoris – and the person attached to it – you have to think of yourself like a snake charmer. The clitoris may look like a button you can just push for pleasure. It isn’t. Most of the time, this little bundle of nerve endings lies nestled comfortably in the dark; cool, covered, content. But, once coaxed out to play, it can rise up, stand to attention and radiate pleasure through the entire body. You just have to learn what it likes - and then use that knowledge to charm it to orgasm.

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The Anatomy of the Clitoris

In order to begin, allow us to first take you on a tour of this fascinating piece of sexual anatomy.

If you have – or have interacted with – a clitoris before, you probably think of it as the small bit you can see outside the body. It’s located below the pubic mound, at the top of where the labia meet. For most people, it’s a very small and very sensitive area, which is why it’s huddle up inside a piece of skin called the clitoral hood.

How to Charm a Clitoris

This external portion of the clitoris - or the part you can actually see - is called the glans clitoris, and it packs more than 8,000 nerve endings. It’s no bigger than a pea, but the entire clitoris is a lot bigger than that. In fact, the glans is just a very small part of the clitoris, the rest of which is found inside the body. That's right, the clitoris is actually a lot bigger than you'd think, which helps explain how it produces so much orgasmic sensation.

So what’s hiding behind the scenes? In addition to the glans, the clitoris consists of two corpora cavernosa, two crura and the clitoral vestibule, or bulbs.

How to Charm a Clitoris

See how the clitoris extends down, out and away from the glans and beyond the labia? That’s a much larger area of sensitive tissue than you may have imagined. Now, what’s really cool about this is the clitoral bulbs. See how they come down around the vaginal opening? These babies are composed of erectile tissue. So, when the clitoris is stimulated to create arousal, these bulbs engorge with blood and swell, creating tension and increasing sensation in the vagina.

What’s most important to understand about clitoral anatomy is that clitoral arousal and stimulation is likely much broader than the clitoral glans suggests. In other words, you can stimulate a clitoris without actually stimulating the glans at all – or stimulating it significantly less than you’d think. In fact, many people prefer this because that little glans is oh- so-sensitive, and can’t always take a lot of lovin’.

It’s also why many people get such intense pleasure from clitoral vibrators, such as the LELO NEA or LELO LILY. Their deep vibrations are designed to penetrate beyond the surface to stimulate the entire clitoral structure, allowing users to get the most of this amazing pleasure center.

Researchers have only recently achieved a more thorough understanding of clitoral anatomy thanks to 3D imaging. In other words, there is probably still a lot to learn about this amazing, wishbone-shaped bit of sexual anatomy. What we know for sure is that the clitoris is the center for sexual pleasure for the vast majority of female-bodied people. The research suggests that 70-80% of people require direct clitoral stimulation to orgasm, whether vaginal stimulation is involved or not. In other words, if you want to please a person with a clitoris, the clitoris is probably your best target. Now, onto some tips on how to charm it.

Read: 10 Things You Don't Know About Vaginas

Connect, Respect and Get Consent

We’re talking about a body part here, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t address the body to which that organ is attached. In order to do that, you’ll have to start by talking to your partner about what feels good. Ask your partner what she likes, and use feedback as you’re touching her by saying things like “Like this?” or “How does that feel?” or “Harder or softer?” This is a great – and super sexy! – way to get instant feedback about what works. Plus, ensuring consent and fostering respect and connection with your partner is as charming as it gets.

Work Your Toward Your Target

As you’ve now discovered, the clitoris is oh-so-sensitive. That isn’t to say that it can’t take plenty of pressure and stimulation; it just can’t take it up front. In fact, this bundle of 8,000 ultra-sensative nerve endings (twice as many as the penis!), is usually covered by a piece of skin called the clitoral hood to keep it from feeling much at all. This is because for many people, any form of pressure or stimulation up-front feels like way too much. Seriously. It’s a sensation that’s difficult to describe, but for those of you who don’t have a clitoris, the experience is a bit like getting a massage and having your therapist hit a spot that’s just way too deep and sensitive. You tense up. You recoil. And it feels like every cell in your body is trying desperately to move away from the locus of sensation. Not cool.

The best way to prevent this unpleasant sensation is to avoid touching the clitoris directly – at least at first. In fact, for some really sensitive people, enjoying mind-blowing pleasure might mean not touching it at all. Instead, start by touching other erogenous zones. Start as far away from the clitoris as possible, and work you way toward it as your partner becomes more aroused. So, you might start by kissing, moving down her body, touching and caressing as you go. Do this slowly and, as you get closer, slow things down even more. Linger around the stomach, the hips, the inner thighs. Touch or lick the pubic bone. Get closer. But try steering clear of the clitoris for as long as your partner will let you. What you’re doing is moving blood into the area, creating arousal and making this ultra-sensitive spot more receptive to touch – and more amenable to orgasm.

Work Your Way Up

As you slowly arouse your partner, the clitoris will swell (remember, it’s made of erectile tissue, just like a penis!), and may even emerge from its hood. Now, if your partner is into it, you may be able to begin touching it directly. That said, even at this point, some people still prefer to be touched slightly off the mark, such as by circling the clitoris, or stroking one side or the other. (Ask your partner which side feels better - many clitorises are righties or lefties!) Start with a light, gentle touch. You can increase the pressure, speed and intensity depending on how your partner responds. It’s best to go in with less and wait for your partner to ask for more – too much stimulation can cause your partner to tense up or even create numbness. Charm involves patience. Take the time that it takes.

Use Lube!!!

Your No.1 ally when it comes to charming a clitoris is lube. A nice, smooth, body-safe lubricant helps reduce unpleasant friction and creates a bit of a cushion between your skin and your partner’s. You can also use your partner’s own, natural lubricant, but a little (or a lot) of extra lube never hurts and can help make sure that everyone stays comfortable. Also, longer play can often be really pleasurable, and a good lube can help make that possible. If you are pleasing your partner with your mouth, things are a lot softer and this may not be necessary (although there are some flavored lubes out there that can be fun!) Part of the key to keeping a clitoris happy is to ensure that you protect this sensitive area. Lube keeps everything soft, slippery and friction free.

Pay Attention to Body Language

Your partner’s body language is one of the best tools you can use to gauge whether your charm is working. Listen to your partner’s breathing. Is it getting faster? Are they moaning in pleasure or have they suddenly gone silent? This will help you decide whether you should keep doing what you’re doing, speed up, slow down or check in with your partner for more information. You can also pay attention to your partner’s other physical cues. Are they pressing their body towards you? Opening their legs for more? Or, are they tensing up and pulling away? Your partner’s body speaks loudly. Learn to pay attention to what it is saying, and to either adapt or ask questions in response.

Amp Things Up

When the clitoris is fully aroused, many people find they can enjoy lot more pressure, friction and speed. If your partner is getting close to the edge, now may be the time to really go all in. What this means will depend on your partner. If they prefer external stimulation, you could increase that and try applying a lot of friction, vibration, pressure or some combination of the three. You could also add internal stimulation, either with a penis or a dildo. Some people enjoy G-spot stimulation at this point. In fact, the G-spot is much more receptive to pressure and touch at this stage of arousal. Remember that the rest of your partner’s body will be less sensitive when fully aroused too, so it could be a good time to try rougher play around other erogenous zones such as the stomach, breasts and butt.

Read: The 4 Basic Steps to G-Spot Bliss

Consider Adding a Clitoral Vibrator

If your partner has a clitoris, learning to charm it with your hands or mouth is a key sexual skill – you should learn how to do this! That said, there’s nothing wrong with getting a little help from technology. Clitoral vibrators are purpose-built to stimulate the clitoris to orgasm and they do that job very well – and very efficiently - for most people. This can be particularly helpful if your partner is slow to climax. Bringing in a vibrator can mix things up and give your hands and mouth a bit of a break!

Read: Pick Your Pleasure: 10 Steps to Choosing a Vibrator

The LELO LILY 2 or NEA are both great clitoral vibes, particularly for beginners. Their contoured, ergonomic bodies make them easy to hold and use and their shape allows for broad or pinpoint vibrations.

If your partner is into a powerhouse, though, you could try a wand like the LELO Smart Wand. This powerful vibe is designed to stimulate way deep down through those clitoral crura (remember them?). For those who can tolerate this higher degree of intensity, this sort of toy can provide knockout clitoral orgasms.

Get 15% Off LELO Clitoral Vibes
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Don't Stress About Orgasm

If you’ve succeeded at charming a clitoris to an explosive orgasm, well, you’ll know it. But if there’s one thing that really isn’t charming, it’s pressure to get there. Charming a clitoris is about trying to make your partner feel amazing – with no end goal. Plus, whether because of stress, illness, mood, medication or some other factor, a big, old orgasm can be elusive sometimes. Don’t sweat it. If it isn’t happening for your partner, check in with them to see if it’s time to stop. Your partner’s orgasm (or lack thereof) isn’t about you. Create the opportunity for your partner’s orgasm, but leave space for it to not happen as well. Charm is a long game.

Bring Her Down Easy

An orgasm can be an intense – and even highly emotional – experience. When it’s all over, it helps to give your partner some extra care and attention. In the BDSM world, this is called aftercare. Other people just call it cuddling. You could also bring your partner a glass of water or a snack. Whatever you do, cap it all off by ensuring that your partner feels comfortable, cared for and supported. This cements your role as charmer and helps your partner float down from that orgasmic high in the most pleasant way possible. The clitoris has been charmed, its orgasm unleashed. Until next time ...