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A Look at the Evolution of Clitoral Stimulation Pleasure Products

Despite the fact that at least half the people in the world have one, the clitoris remains one of the most under-researched, under-represented bodily organs in Western medicine, academia and sex education. This might be hard to fathom for those of us in the sex toy industry, since so much of our inventory involves clitoral stimulation of some kind, but it’s true. It wasn’t until 2005 that we even learned the clitoris is merely the tip of a much larger organ, 85% of which is internal.

Fortunately, as knowledge of the clitoris has grown over the last 15 years, so have the stimulation methods and sex toy styles marketed to people who have clitorises and their partners. What started as a simple selection of vibrating bullets and plug-in wands has expanded to include a much wider array of styles, sizes, materials and types of stimulation — many of which have nothing to do with vibration.

Increased clitoral awareness paired with pleasure industry innovation has led to even more creativity in clitoral stimulation.

Shoppers today can choose whether they want to treat their clitorises to pulsation, oscillation, air pulsing, air suction, swirling, pumping and more. We’ve come a long way in this category, so today we’re going to talk about the evolution of clitoral stimulation.

Behold, the clitoris!

First, let’s make sure we understand what the clitoris is and how it works. Approximately 75% of people with clitorises require external clitoral stimulation to experience orgasm, so understanding this anatomical pleasure powerhouse better can be a sexual satisfaction game changer.

One common misconception is that the clitoris is simply the small, sensitive “bean” located where the top of the outer labia meet. That’s part of it, but not the whole story. That “bean” is called the glans — and according to recent research, it is packed with more than 10,000 nerve fibers. But the glans is still just the tip of the clitoral iceberg.

Most of the clitoris is not visible because it’s on the inside of the body. It is shaped like a wishbone, with the glans at the top and two “legs” surrounding the vaginal canal. Two bulb-like structures sit between those legs, and when the clitoris engorges with blood, those bulbs enlarge so much that they essentially hug the vagina and urethra.

Knowing this, it’s no surprise that so many people with clitorises enjoy external clit stimulation while having something inserted into the vagina. Toys that provide dual stimulation aren’t simply emulating vaginal sex; they’re stimulating both the external and internal parts of the clit at the same time. Meanwhile, the glans, legs and bulbs connect inside the body at the point commonly referred to as the G-spot, which is why using curved toys to stimulate that area is another way to please the clitoris from the inside. This is especially important for people who don’t enjoy external clitoral stimulation.

Knowing about the full clitoral structure reveals an array of stimulation points and methods your shoppers can explore and experiment with.

Offering a variety of clitoral stimulation options, and helping shoppers understand how they work, will keep your customers satisfied and your bottom line healthy. Now let’s talk about some of the many available types of clitoral stimulation toys.

Clit stim 101

First, there was the basic vibrator: a plastic bullet or torpedo-shaped object that emitted a high-pitched buzz. Some were single speed, others multispeed with a twist bottom. Those products remain top sellers in many stores even today, because they are less intimidating and more affordable than the upgrades that followed.

The vibrator evolved to include softer, less rattly materials like elastomers and silicone. Vibrators also increased in power, moving from watch batteries to AAA and AA batteries, and now most commonly to rechargeable. This power upgrade also enabled manufacturers to tweak the motors to provide a lower-pitched vibration that many clitorises enjoy more than the buzzier kind.

Next came additional stimulation methods, combining vibration with a thump-like pulsation that throbs against the glans, which allows the sensation to be felt deeper in the body.

Ticklers and teasers were introduced to provide external clitoral stimulation in less direct ways, such as with fingerlike extensions that vibrate and swirl around the glans, or petal-like extensions that flutter against the labia and clitoral hood, depending on the user’s anatomy.

Pinpoint vibrators with super-narrow tips later came onto the market to offer an alternative to the wider surface area of most clitoral vibrators. These products provide an almost laser-focused stimulation that flows from the tip, which can be uncomfortable for some but mind-blowing for others. Dual-ended toys found a way to offer this pinpoint stimulation on one end and vibration plus thumpy pulsation on the other, giving users true variety in an all-in-one product.

Some people’s vulvas are shaped in a way that makes it possible to stimulate the glans hands-free by rubbing, grinding or humping against things, which is why there has been an influx of pulsing and vibrating pads that give these users a unique and fun way to play. Some products can lie flat on a chair or bed, allowing the user to sit on top and have vibration and pulsation applied to the entire vulvar region, glans included.

While vibration is clearly still doing a lot for clitorises everywhere, increased clitoral awareness paired with pleasure industry innovation has led to even more creativity in clitoral stimulation.

The past decade has seen suction and air pulsation toys burst onto the scene and become hugely popular. These devices can replicate the suckling sensation often performed during cunnilingus, and scores of users say they have had powerful climaxes in record time.

Additionally, toys can be paired to create more powerful sensations. For example, using a pump that draws blood into the glans, causing it to engorge, can magnify sensation without direct simulation. Follow pump use with light licking or sucking from a sensual toy that mimics cunnilingus. Knowing how to pair products will help your shoppers mix and match to build their ideal experience. As always, don’t forget to recommend a good lubricant to keep everything slick and comfortable!

While air suction and pulsation have been all the rage, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include using electrostimulation on the glans of the clitoris. Not quite vibration and not quite pulsation, these pleasing zaps can be adjusted from a gentle tap to a powerful sting. The stimulation is unusual because it doesn’t apply any physical force to the skin like a traditional vibrator does. There are also less-intimidating ways to explore e-stim for clitoral pleasure, including a wearable panty style.

The clit stim your shoppers deserve

The world at large has received a lot of misinformation about clitorises and sexual pleasure for people who have them. That means people with clitorises and their partners have a lot of catching up to do! For many shoppers, you and your staff might be their first source of accurate, pleasure-centered information. So how do you best prepare to help your shoppers learn, explore and leave satisfied? Here is a succinct list to guide you.

  • Know your anatomy.
  • Know a variety of clitoral stimulation techniques — don’t forget internal!
  • Stock multiple types of clitoral stimulation products.
  • Be prepared to have conversations with your shoppers about all of the above.
  • Avoid unnecessarily gendered language: Not all women have clitorises and not everyone with a clitoris is a woman.

Clitoral stimulation is still evolving, with new methods and products emerging all the time. Providing regular trainings for your staff to ensure they are up to date with anatomy knowledge and product features, along with an inventory that includes more than just vibrators and rabbits, will help you create a comfortable shopping experience. Shoppers will have access to the tools and information they need to have the experience they want, and will feel comfortable coming back when they’re ready for something new.

Rebecca Weinberg is an award-winning industry leader with more than 20 years of experience in the adult industry. She is the president of multi-award-winning pleasure product manufacturer XR Brands.


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