MSP Sex Q&A: I Don’t Have a Clitoris. Will I Still be Able to Please My Husband?

Question:
Dear Dr. Debby, I have been reading your site and it help me somehow with discovering somethings about myself. The thing is I have this problem which is kind of private and it makes me feel worried. I am 22 years old and I never had any sexual experiences because I believe that I want to have it after marriage (I am getting engaged to a man that I am deeply in love with). The problem is that I am afraid that I cant give him what he needs because I dont have a “clit” if that was the right word of it in English. In the town where I am from, they cut a piece of it when a new baby girl born, because they believe it might let the girl do sins when she gets older. It’s an old thought, they don’t do it anymore, but my grandmother when I was born was really serious about it and forced my mom to take me to the woman who does this thing. I tried to look down there and see myself. It wasn’t there but when I touch that place it makes me feel good somehow. I told my boyfriend about it, because we will get engaged soon. I heard that the clit is a very sensitive part and some woman can’t get orgasm without it. What can I do? PS: I am sorry if my email wasn’t that clear.. English isn’t my mother language  and thanks for reading my email.

Answer:
Thank you for trusting me with your story. I think your English is very good. I don’t know that I would be able to ask such a personal and detailed question in any language other than my own, so I commend you for your abilities and for your courage and faith in me that I would try to answer your question in an honest and helpful way.

People have different terms for what happened to your clitoris. Some people, especially in the US or in Europe, call it female genital mutilitation. I tend to not like that term because many women do not feel that their genitals have been mutilated just because they have been cut. Others call it female circumcision, as that sometimes more accurately reflects the purpose of the cutting of the clitoris in the cultures where the procedure still takes place. I tend to use another commonly used term - female genital cutting - especially when I’m not sure whether the specific cutting we’re talking about (yours) was as part of a circumcision ceremony or not, or how you feel about it.

Millions of girls have their genitals cut – even today. Sometimes a small amount of the genitals is cut. Other times quite a lot of the genitals are cut, and the vaginal entrance may even be sewn shut (which can be problematic later on when you try to have intercourse). If you are not sure how extensive the cutting was that was done on your genitals, you might check in with a healthcare provider. I would suggest calling local gynecologists offices and asking whether the doctor or nurse has experience seeing women who have had female genital cutting or female circumcision. Sometimes there are special issues that women with your experience may be dealing with, and it can be good to see a healthcare provider who has expertise in this area.

It sounds to me like you are saying that only a small bit of the clitoris was cut, which is probably why you still feel a good deal of sensation (like how it makes you feel good) when you touch the area of your clitoris. The clitoris itself is much bigger than meets the eye. Only the tip of the clitoris (also called the “glans clitoris”) can be seen from looking at a woman’s genitals. The clitoris actually extends backward into the body in two branches that are called “crura”. Therefore, if only the tip (glans) of your clitoris is cut, you may have quite a lot of it left inside of you (which is good!!).

Women experience orgasm in many different ways. Some women enjoy direct stimulation of the clitoris. Others enjoy direct stimulation of the vagina (the inside part; also called the “birth canal”). Still other women actually are able to orgasm from breast stimulation. In other words, regardless of what has or happened to your genitals, I think there is reason to believe that you can have a satisfying, pleasurable sexual life with your fiance.

It is also worth noting that even if you do not orgasm, you are not alone. Many women – even women who have never had their clitoris – do not experience orgasm, particularly during penis-vagina intercourse. Other women do learn to experience orgasm but it may take them weeks or months or years to learn to do so. Orgasm seems to come more easily to men than women, but that does not mean that our sex lives are any less pleasurable, meaningful, enjoyable or satisfying.

You can learn more about female orgasm by reading Becoming Orgasmic. You can learn more about connecting with your husband by reading For Each Other: Sharing Sexual Intimacy by Dr. Lonnie Barbach.

If you have a question about sex, love, dating, relationships, pleasure, orgasm, tips, techniques, positions or sex terms you’ve heard but don’t understand, email me at DrDebby@mysexprofessor.com. Your confidentiality will be respected.

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.