The clitoris is the main pleasure and orgasm organ for those who have one. It consists of a smaller external part that you can see and play with directly, and a much bigger internal part that you can only stimulate indirectly (typically through the vagina). About 70-80% of vagina-owners do not regularly orgasm from vaginal penetration alone; they need some clitoral stimulation to get them over the edge.

It feels like sex educators have been sharing these facts for so long that everyone and their mother knows and has already incorporated them into their sexual practice. Sadly, too many clitorises continue to get ignored. Especially when it comes to hookups, where people often communicate less with their partners, and don’t always care as much for their partners’ pleasure.

I get it, it’s not easy. Parents and school-based sex ed are completely useless when it comes to anything pleasure-related. Mainstream and social media are highly sexualized, yet super vague about the mechanics of sexual pleasure (and increasingly more censored on that front – have you been following all the sex censorship happening on Tumblr and Facebook?). And the only easily accessible source of explicit info about how sex works–mainstream porn–continues to dedicate most screen time to blowjobs and jackhammer penetration.

Mix that in with generally sex-negative attitudes and patriarchal structures that prioritize male pleasure while discouraging girls and women from exploring their bodies, and the results are not surprising. Whether you have a clitoris or not, chances are you don’t know much about the organ or what to do with it to. As a result, partnered sex often skips over the clit in favor of in-and-out action.

So here are three tips to make clitorises (and their owners) happy.

1) Fall in love with the clitoral glans

The clitoral glans is the part that most people think of as the whole clit (and up until waaaay too recently so did scientists as well!). But, actually, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. The clitoral glans is jam-packed with nerve endings all crammed in a pretty small surface area, hence, it’s quite sensitive. Some glans are large and obviously protruding from under the clitoral hood; others are smaller and tucked under the hood and/or the labia. Wherever it is, it’s usually worth finding and spending some quality time with it–before, during, after, or regardless of vaginal intercourse.

Because it’s easily accessible, there are lots of ways to provide stimulation to the clitoral glans: You can put pressure on it, lick it, suck it, nibble on it, rub it, provide vibration to it. And all of these activities can be done at different speeds, intensities, motion patterns, and combinations. There is so much to explore, and no one right way to do it. Try different things, at different times, building up as slowly as you need to.

If you’d like to incorporate something other than fingers, a tongue, or the standard-type vibration provided by most massaging sex toys, give LELO’s Sona Cruise a try. Unlike other massagers (like for example, one of our all-time favorites, the Lily 2), the Sona Cruise uses pulsating sonic waves to create a unique sucking feeling when the nozzle is placed over the clitoral glans.

2) Reach in and push UP for the internal clitoris

Most of the clitoris is actually inside the body. It consists of a pair of thin, long “legs” that attach it to the pubic bone and a pair of chubby, round vestibular bulbs that hug the vagina and the urethra. Both the legs and the bulbs are made up of the same type of erectile tissue that penises are made of, and they engorge with blood when the clit-owner gets aroused. 

Since it’s inside the body, you can’t reach the internal clit directly, but you can stimulate it indirectly. The easiest way is to go through the vagina and push up against the front part of the vaginal wall at about 2 inches in. This hits the G-spot, which unlike what many believe, is not some unique anatomical structure or a separate organ. It’s simply the area where the vestibular bulbs of the clitoris, the urethra, and the vagina all come together (officially known as the clitourethrovaginal complex).

It’s possible to stimulate the internal clit through penetration, but not with the standard in-and-out technique. In-and-out does a lot for people with penises (and looks great on camera for porn purposes), but it doesn’t do much to engage the internal clit. Sure, it can feel good to clit-owners as it brushes up against the clitoral bulbs through the vaginal wall. But this isn’t done in the focused, intense, and consistent sort of way necessary to get them past the orgasm edge.

Instead of the in-and-out motion, try to employ more of an up-and-down or come-hither motion. The simplest ways to do this is to use either fingers or G-spot toys (i.e., insertable toys that are curved up to reach the G-spot). Some of these toys also add vibration for additional internal sensation (like another one of our all-time favorites, the Ina Wave). And although the Sona Cruise is not an insertable toy, the sonic pulses it uses resonate deeper than traditional vibrations, so they can be felt in the internal structures of the clitoris even from outside the body! Check it out and let us know how it feels!

3) But don’t get too fixated on the clitoris!

I know I’ve been talking about how amazing and important clitoral stimulation is for the pleasure and orgasm of clitoris-owners. However, just like many people ignore the clit altogether, almost as many seem to get so fixated on it–either the external or the internal parts–that they completely neglect the rest of the body and mind of the clit-owner. Setting the right context of sexiness and safety is critical.

Like, don’t go straight for the clit. Unlike many penises, most clitorises don’t like to be handled before they’re at least somewhat aroused. In fact, if you touch it directly too soon, it might feel quite unpleasant and even painful. So take your time to build up sexual tension and arousal, by kissing, caressing the whole body, teasing your partner… Even once you get to the vulva, don’t go straight for the clitoral glans or the G-spot. Give the inner and outer labia some love. Think of it as a vulva massage: Include some diffused pressure (like with your whole palm) as well as rubbing or licking. Give the clit a chance to warm up. Make it beg you to touch it. Timing is everything.

Of course, different clits like different types of stimulation, and the same clit might like different things at different times and stages of arousal. And some clits don’t like much or any stimulation at all. Talk to your partner and pay attention to their verbal and nonverbal signs of what they may or may not be enjoying at any given moment. If you’re not sure what to do, err on the side of slower and gentle. For some reason, people have an easier time asking for “faster and harder” than for “slower and gentler.”

This article was created in partnership with LELO.