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Girl Smarts What’s a clitoral hood—and does it affect my orgasms?

You realized you have a clitoris and it feels damn good to touch it. But, to this day, you may still be confused by that cute little flap of skin that covers your clit. What does it do? Does it have a name?

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play What’s a clitoral hood—and does it affect my orgasms? (GETTY IMAGESPHOTOGRAPHY BY MANGIWAU )

Whether you were 12 or 20 the first time you really examined what was going on between your legs, you probably made a lot of discoveries.

Most importantly: You realized you have a clitoris and it feels damn good to touch it. But, to this day, you may still be confused by that cute little flap of skin that covers your clit. What does it do? Does it have a name?

Meet: the clitoral hood. Janet Brito, Ph.D., AASECT-certified sex therapist, is here to tell you all about that little pink protector-plus all its sexy benefits.

What is a clitoral hood?

The glans clitoris-the external, pea-sized part of the clitoris above your urethra-is surrounded by a fold of skin that protects it, Brito explains. That fold of skin, which is technically the upper part of the labia, is referred to as the clitoral hood, and it keeps the clit's 8,000 nerve ending from harm and irritation.

These nerve endings, which give clitoris-owners a whole lot of pleasure, can also easily cause pain-either from too much pressure or too sharp a touch, says Brito. Luckily, that nifty clitoral hood adds an extra layer between the clitoris and a finger/penis/toy, so stimulation can feel pleasurable, not painful. Not to mention, it keeps those nerves from getting irritated throughout the day by something as simple as tight-fitting clothes. For some, the hood is barely noticeable, for others it completely covers the clitoris. No matter the size, it’s there to help.

Okay but what if mine is really, really big?

All clits have clitoral hoods, but as mentioned, they come in all shapes and sizes. If yours completely covers your clitoris, Brito says first and foremost: “Don’t panic.”

The reality is, there is no "normal" size.

But, if want a way to identify how your clitoral hood compares, here is a good analogy: Think of the glans clitoris as the head of a person wearing a sweatshirt. For some, the hood of the sweatshirt rests below the head, some have the hood up just a little, and some have that hood all the way around the head.

That last scenario is what's often referred to as a "hooded clitoris" and it's nothing to stress about. You're not different or weird, and just because you can’t find your vagina’s twin in porn doesn’t make you any less capable of having excellent sex.

So...how does the hood affect my sex life?

When you get turned on, your glans clitoris swells with blood and gets bigger (yeah, kind of like a penis) and that usually pushes your hood aside, thanks to the help of natural lubricant produced by the hood called sebum.

If you have a smaller clitoral hood, you probably won’t notice your hood at all during sex, or you may feel extra-sensitive when your clitoris is directly stimulated (again, everyone is different!).

But if you have one of those aforementioned hooded clitorises, it may not move as easily, which could have an affect on the sensations you feel during stimulation. You may not feel enough stimulation to orgasm while the hood is down (don’t worry you can push it back) or you may need extra pressure against your clitoris and clitoral hood to achieve orgasm.

Brito explains it’s all about finding what works for you, “Some women may find that they need to apply more pressure. Other women may be able to draw the hood back and expose the clitoris. Others prefer to rub the clitoral hood and clitoris together.”

Now, listening to your body can be difficult, so Brito laid out a few tips and tricks for achieving hooded clitoris orgasm:

Focus on clitoral stimulation more than penetration. "Find positions where you or your partner are able to apply sufficient pressure to arouse your clitoris and increase sensation,” says Brito. This may mean using your own fingers to pull the hood back or maneuvering so your partner is able to apply direct pressure on to your hooded clitoris.

Try a toy. If you feel like you just can’t get enough stimulation, Brito recommends incorporating a wand massager into the mix. A good toy is sure to kick your pleasure into high gear.

Grab some lube. When in doubt, lube is always a good call-whether you're using a toy, finger, or otherwise. A little extra lubricant can help decrease any discomfort and increase pleasure. 

Experiment, experiment, experiment. All in all, the number one way to have good sex with a hooded clitoris is to test out different techniques. Whether it’s with fingers, tongues, toys, or genitals, the best way to find what’s right for you is to actually spend time exploring your body. So light some candles, put on some music, maybe even grab a mirror, and get sexploring.

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