A Peek at Women’s Anatomy of Arousal
by Sheri Winston, CNM, RN, BSN, LMT
author of Women's Anatomy of Arousal: Secret Maps to Buried Pleasure
What’s Really Down There May Surprise You!
Being an educated person,you probably think you have a pretty good understanding of both models of the standard sexual equipment, whichever version you happen to own or like to visit. It may surprise you to know that our accepted cultural ideas and images of genitals are missing a lot of really good stuff.
What’s Missing From This Picture?
Believe it or not, the majority of contemporary books and illustrations of female genital anatomy leave out most of the equipment responsible for arousal and orgasm.When these specialized sexual structures are omitted from the images and text, they’re also absent from our mental model. This limits your ability to access your full sexual potential—it’s kind of like a psychological chastity belt.
There is much more to women’s pleasure than the clitoris, and there’s more to the clitoris than meets the eye. This ultra-sensitive sweet button is only the tip of the female volcano, just one component of a whole network of erogenous structures. Women have an interlocking set of sexual pleasure parts, most of which are unknown or misunderstood.
In fact, women have just as much erotic equipment in their bodies as men do. That’s right. The female apparatus is equivalent in size to that of the male—it’s just not as obvious. Pound for pound, inch for inch, women have the same amount of the good stuff as guys.
Playing the Whole Instrument
Since we don’t know about all of these yummy parts, we’re operating with a limited mental model. It’s as if we’ve been trying to play the piano and make beautiful music but are only aware of a quarter of the keys. With most of the keyboard missing, we can still make lovely music, but the range is restricted.
When we discover the complete network of structures and understand how the connected system works together, it’s as if we now know where all the keys are (plus the foot pedals!). Then we can learn how to fully play our instrument and make a much wider, more expansive range of music. Some songs that seemed well outside our ability now become possible. We may not be able to play a Mozart sonata or have fifteen-minute orgasms right away, but we can see that it’s possible to get there.
It’s no wonder so many women face challenges in accessing their full arousal and becoming orgasmically proficient. They haven’t been using their whole instrument! When we don’t know what’s there, we don’t know how to thoroughly play with it and neither do our partners, whether they’re male or female. And of course we can’t teach them, if we don’t know ourselves.
When your mental model is congruent with your experience, the impact can be enormous. Often, it’s only in retrospect that you see what you were missing before. The power of having a mind map that matches your reality and accurately reflects your body and its abilities can’t be overstated—your sex life becomes full of new understandings of who you are and how you operate, a luscious tapestry of “Aha!” and “Oh my god!” moments.
An Erector Set of Her Own
To discover what’s really there, let’s imagine that we’re going under the skin, fatty tissue and top layer of muscles of the female genitals to reveal what’s hiding underneath—an exquisite treasure awaiting discovery. There is a rich variety of structures and systems there, including what I call the female erectile network.
Erectile tissue is a unique type of tissue, mostly consisting of a compacted mass of specialized capillaries. Capillaries are the tiniest blood vessels in the body, characterized by a wall that’s only one cell thick. You have regular capillaries all over your body, supplying each and every tiny cell. The thin wall allows for exchange to take place, enabling our bodies to absorb things like oxygen and nutrients, and to get rid of things like waste products.
Erectile tissue, however, boasts some very unusual and talented capillaries with an extra-special ability. They contain a multitude of miniscule one-way valves that stay open when you’re not aroused, allowing blood to flow just like regular circulation. When you get turned on, the valves close, causing the tissue to fill up with blood. It’s as if you’d stopped the drain at the bottom of your bathtub, but still have the faucet on. Blood continues to flow into the one-way passage, but it can’t get out. In addition, some of your erectile tissue has balloon-like extra spaces where you can pack even more red hot blood, increasing that extra-stiff feeling. When the erectile capillaries fill, the tissue becomes enlarged, firm and wonderfully sensitive, producing the delightful state called engorgement. Women have a network of structures that are composed of this wondrous expandable erectile tissue. When a penis gets hard, a guy gets an erection. When a woman gets her erectile network fired up, she gets a “herection.”
The female erectile network is made up of the interconnected but separate structures of the clitoris, the vestibular bulbs, and the urethral and perineal sponges. The clitoris is composed of three parts, the head, the shaft, and the legs. The paired vestibular bulbs form fat parentheses around the vaginal opening, lying under the lips. There’s a tubular sponge of erectile tissue surrounding the urethra that lies above the roof of the vagina. Another spongy erectile pad lies under the vaginal floor, in the wall between the vaginal and anal canals. Together, these structures form a connected set of erogenous equipment designed by evolution to work and play nicely together. Remember, Mother Nature wants to ensure that reproduction is a desirable activity!
Electric Erectile Circuits
Each of these structures is linked to the others, forming an arousal matrix—the elegant female erectile network. In fact, women have two interwoven circuits of erectile tissue, including all three parts of the clitoris and the erectile structures in the floor, the two sidewalls and the roof of the vagina. One circuit forms the cuff around the vaginal opening. The second circuit overlaps the cuff and includes the whole clitoris.
Everything feels better when the whole system is activated. A wide variety of stimulation can lead to arousal when the focus expands beyond the clitoral head (not that it should be ignored, either!). In particular, when the whole erectile cuff is engorged, penetration feels marvelous! Without all of the structures pleasured and puffed, insertion and thrusting are not nearly so arousing and may be downright uncomfortable. Pleasure is maximized when all circuits are on-line.
Appreciating the Arousal Arrangement
The women’s arousal network has remarkable abilities that differentiate it from the male’s member. Women can get aroused and be orgasmic with only part of the network activated. The penis is different: guys have more of an all-or-nothing erectile experience. Women’s arousal and orgasmic experiences directly depend on which areas of their network have been neglected or stimulated. When the entire network is thoroughly engorged, a woman will tend to have the most fulfilling orgasmic response. It’s as if an entire orchestra was engaged in a symphony. Unfortunately, though, since they don’t know it’s all there, many women are only playing with part of their equipment, thus limiting their erotic adventures.
For women to reach their full sexual potential, they need to discover this network of erogenous circuits. When that whole system is fully utilized, it becomes considerably easier for women to expand their arousal, access amazing orgasmic states and discover their deep and wondrous wildness. When you know all your parts and give them the attention they so richly deserve, your music can become a powerful symphony of ecstasy.
by Sheri Winston