There is yet another neglected part of the vulva that not only those of us with vulva’s fail to check, but also doctors. It was only a few months ago that I looked at my clitoris for the first time. For one reason or another I had never thought to pull back my clitoral hood (this is the skin that lays over the top of the clitoris to protect it, and should easily slide back and forth) and take a look. That is until I was thinking about how I have clitoral pain, yet even my obgyn has never actually looked at it.
You see, debris can actually become stuck under the clitoral hood and cause a great deal of discomfort. Some of you might be aware of something called smegma, which is a white build up that often occurs in men who are uncircumcised. It’s basically just a build up of dead skin cells/fluids that need to be washed away. Well, did you know women can have smegma too? Smegma might be seen on the folds of the labia, and as I’m writing about today, can build up under the clitoral hood. If smegma does build up under the clitoral hood (and is not cleansed away gently with water) it can become hard and grainy which can cause a great deal of pain. There are approximately 8,000 nerve endings in the clitoris. Hard smegma build up under the clitoral hood can essentially be like having a teeny tiny piece of dirt in your eye; while it may be small it can hurt horribly bad!
Every clitoris/clitoral hood is different. Some may have larger hoods while others may be smaller. Likewise, some may have a larger or smaller clitoris much like the way labia vary from person to person. Sometimes there can be a “hole” like crevice at the top of your clitoris when you pull back your clitoral hood due to the unique way your skin folds. Some people may develop clitoral adhesions due to being born with this kind of a variation that is harder to keep clean (conditions like lichen sclerosis can also cause clitoral adhesions). It’s very important to know if you have a “crevice,” or fold under your clitoral hood so that you can gently cleanse it with warm water and a wash cloth (NO SOAP!!) and apply something to lubricate that will help keep the area free of debris such as coconut oil, or vitamin E oil. After doing some research I found this great post by a brave soul who shared a picture of her “hole”/fold under her clitoral hood. Please read HERE if you are curious to learn more.
Smegma isn’t the only substance that can build up under the clitoral hood, sometimes hairs can become stuck when doing personal grooming which can also cause a tremendous amount of pain.
All people with a vulva should check their clitoris to:
A. Learn what your clitoral hood/clitoris looks like.
B. See if it needs some help staying clean.
Checking our clitoris and making sure it is free/stays free of debris can make a big difference for those of us with clitoral pain. To read more about smegma please check out this informative article HERE my only note is that soap of any kind should never be used on the vulva. If you are concerned about your clitoris after looking at it yourself please bring it to the attention of your doctor. Sometimes debris needs to be removed by a doctor, especially if clitoral adhesions are an issue.
Please help spread this knowledge to your fellow friends with a vulva so that they’re aware! A lot of this information that seems like common knowledge really isn’t, and we can save each other some grief by sharing and taking away the taboo. XO