Sexologists are unanimous: the better you know your body, the easier it becomes to attain pleasure. Knowing your body better can be achieved by both practice, through the exploration of one’s erogenous zones, and theory, through a more thorough knowledge of one’s anatomy.
"Learning to tell yourself honestly positive things about your body, and learning to access the pleasure of embodiment, allow you to tap into the “rest-and-restore” parasympathetic nervous system where healing (and also arousal) happen" (Kauppi, 2023).
Here is a little overview, from top to bottom, of women’s sexual organs and their role (or lack of) in female pleasure.
Every part of our sexual anatomy.
The uterus is an important part of a woman’s reproductive system. Located in the lower abdomen, this triangle-shaped and hollow muscle receives the embryo when fertilized and expands during pregnancy as the baby develops. It does not play any role in female pleasure.
The cervix is the lower, narrower section of the uterus. Just a few centimeters long, the cervix connects the uterus to the vagina. Its role is to keep the foetus inside the uterus until labor starts. At that point, the cervix expands to let the baby come through. Although the cervix has no real role in female pleasure, some women say they have experienced a “cervical” orgasm, or namely an intense pleasure felt when the penis comes in contact with the cervix during deep penetration. However, experts are not unanimous on the existence of this type of enjoyment.
The ovaries and fallopian tubes.
They are responsible for ovulation: each cycle, the ovaries expel an oocyte that will become an egg if fertilized. Near each of the two ovaries is a fallopian tube that retrieves the oocyte and sends it down to the uterus. It is during this journey that a spermatozoid can fertilize an oocyte. Despite their important role in the reproductive system, the fallopian tubes have no role to play in female pleasure.
The vagina performs several essential functions: it allows the cervical mucus – the white liquid secreted by the cervix – and the menstrual blood which contains the endometrium to flow and escape the body. The penis enters through the vagina in penetrative sex, and during childbirth, the vagina stretches to let the baby pass through. But it also plays a role in female pleasure: in the lower part of the vagina, near the vulva, vestibular glands produce lubricating secretions that facilitate the penetration and movement of the penis in the vagina when aroused. When sexually excited, the mucous membranes of its walls swell and release a liquid which mixes with other bodily secretions. Finally, the vaginal muscles usually contract leading up to a very pleasurable orgasm.
The vulva, though often mistaken with the vagina, encompasses the clitoris, urethra, labia (inner and outer lips), and vaginal entrance.
The clitoris is the female organ of pleasure. Its function is purely sexual, thus making sex very pleasurable. Made of the same erectile tissue as the penis, the clitoris engorges with blood when stimulated. The only visible part is its glans, or the small bud down the pubis, which are protected by the inner labia.
The inner labia also protect the urethra – the channel through which urine flows – and the entrance of the vagina, while the outer lips protect the entire sensitive region. In addition to the clitoris, the inner labia also play a role in female pleasure, as it is sensitive to the touch and swells upon arousal.
It is is the set of muscles that supports the pelvis, genitals and anus. Its role is paramount in pushing out the baby from the uterus during childbirth. The perineum muscle strength also has a role in women’s pleasure: if the perineum is too loose, the vagina will tend to have less of a grip on the penis, leading to diminished sensations. Conversely, an overly strong or tense perineum can cause pain during vaginal penetration.
Besides these sexual organs, there are multiple erogenous organs around the body, which can be a source of pleasure, even if their core function is not sexual. The most widespread example is the anus. Its pleasure stems from its high concentration of nerve endings and its proximity to the vulva. Erotic fixation around anal sex also plays a big role in making it an erogenous organ. Thus, with the power of imagination, a toe or an earlobe can become erogenous!
Curious to learn more? Check out our free sex ed program focused on pleasure!