Have you heard the news? A new study, led by Dr. Blair Peters, reveals that the dorsal nerve of the clitoris has an average of 5,140 nerve fibers. This means, there are more than 5,000 nerves that play a role in clitoral erections and sexual pleasure. And it gets better! There are an average of 10,281 nerve fibers in the clitoris. That’s more than 10,000 reasons to talk about clitoral pleasure!

We know that the clitoris is proven to be a pleasure center in the female body. In human sexuality and anatomy textbooks, the glans (or the tips) of the clitoris is often compared to the glans (or the head) of the penis. This study is the first to report the number of nerve fibers in the human clitoris. The well-known average of 8,000 nerve fibers was actually published in 1976 and this data was from female sheep. The current discovery and lack of dedicated studies investigating the anatomy and function of the clitoris – until the last 20 years – shows there are significant gaps in promoting and understanding pleasure.

This lack of attention perpetuates stigma around female pleasure. Now is the time to promote pleasure equity and worthiness. Clitoral function is just as worthy of exploration, study, and understanding as the penis. Pleasure equity begins with education and communication. In a study examining people who regularly report orgasms during sexual intimacy, there is a 30% orgasm gap between heterosexual men and women. To learn more, see “Everything You Need To Know About The Orgasm Gap (And How To Close It).

3 Tips to promote pleasure equity:

  1. Let’s talk about it, and then talk about it some more. For the first time ever, we have more than 10,000 reasons to talk about the clitoris. Communication is key to improving equity.
  2. Explore the clitoris. On one hand, it’s a call to action for educators and researchers to learn more so that we have important information about the data. On the other hand, it’s a call to action for you and your partners to explore and see what pleasure it brings.
  3. Pleasure is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Clitoral stimulation can be done both internally and externally, solo or with a partner, and can involve the use of toys, fingers, mouths, or penises. Pro tip: Let lube be your friend, not your enemy. There are all kinds of lubricants and enhancements that you can throw into the mix.

With more than 10,000 nerve endings, there are so many possibilities! Take your time, slow down, pay attention, and know that each experience can be fun and exciting!

Ashley Townes

Ashley Townes

PhD, MPH, Epidemiologist at Centers for Disease Control
Dr. Ashley Townes (she/her/hers), is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. She attended Walnut Hills High School and the University of Cincinnati, where she received both her Bachelors and Master of Public Health degrees. She received her doctorate degree in Health Behavior and Epidemiology from Indiana University.

Dr. Townes has experience working as a Community Health Educator and Disease Intervention Specialist in Cincinnati and the surrounding areas. She has worked on several initiatives related to the dissemination of national HIV prevention and care campaign materials tailored for African Americans, Hispanic/Latinx, and transgender women of color. Dr. Townes has taught collegiate-level Human Sexuality courses, served as an Epidemiologist at the Ohio Department of Health, and currently works as an ORISE Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention’s Epidemiology Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA.

Ashley’s research background includes work on the sexual experiences of African American/Black women accessing health information and utilizing sexual health services. In 2018, she received grant funding from the Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health to translate sexual health research data into educational materials. Her career interests are aimed at providing quality sexual education and working towards health equity.