The penis has always been more or less apparent. The clitoris—a dick’s analog, made up of similar tissue and, depending on your comparison, the same size—had to be “discovered.” Who first documented it is up for debate (it was either the ancient Greeks or 16th century physicians), but we’ve spent centuries since treating it like an unknowable mystery.
Lately, technologists and gadget makers have brought the Internet of Things to the penis, with smart cockrings that track erection duration and intensity. But the clit has gone mostly untouched.
“In recent years, there's been people talking about the anatomy of the clitoris, and wearing clitoris necklaces, and clitoris art,” Ashley Winter, urologist and sexual medicine doctor, told me. “And that's great, but you know, if we don't couple that with better understanding from a medical side, and attention from research scientists and the technology side, what is the point?”
Winter is working with sex tech company Firmtech—which makes the aforementioned smart cock rings—to develop a wearable tracker for the clit. Like a Fitbit for the clitoris. A Clitbit.
Right now, Firmtech is calling it the ClitTrak. But it’s far from being consumer-ready.
Winter and a team of female engineers developed a prototype that consists of a small “egg” that’s inserted in the vagina, attached to a photoplethysmography (PPG) pulse sensory that extends to rest on the clit. In July, they sent 20 women these prototypes to wear at home, with directions to wear it while watching a control (non-arousing) video, and during progressively more sexually arousing activities, like searching for erotic material of their choice, watching or reading it, masturbating, then post-masturbation. The data from the sensor shows how engorged the clit became.
For the non-arousing video, they watched a clip from the Minions movie franchise. (Perhaps a flawed control; Minions porn exists, but the team took a likely safe bet on these 20 women not being into it.)
The device measures the amount of blood flow to the clitoris; similar to how you might feel your heart beating stronger after exercise, the sensor measures pulse amplitude, which correlates with arousal. It measures the relative change in blood flow with exposure to sexual erotic stimulation which is a marker of clitoral enlargement and erection, Winter said.
She recently presented the device, and the small study conducted with it, at a meeting for the Sexual Medicine Society.
Winter said she intends for this to be a commercial product and not a research device. But research is scant on how clitoral tumescence affects health; compare this to how much time, effort and research money has been poured into penile health and erectile dysfunction.
“We can't even begin to think of all the stuff you could do with having any sort of quantitative insight on clitoral erectile function, because nobody's ever done it,” Winter said. “Which is wild, right? I mean, we're in the age where you can see your EKG, your sweat content, your continuous blood glucose. Every fucking thing, there's like a wearable device for it.” While other devices on the market currently quantify things like pelvic floor health, none focus explicitly on sexual arousal.
She sees the ClitTrak as useful for sexual biofeedback in partnered sex, or solo, to understand what turns you on. “We've just kind of been ignoring it because people think it's too hard to figure out how to put a sensor on it. Which is like... that's kind of a bullshit excuse, right?” Winter said. “Nobody's putting in the effort. It isn't that hard.”
In her urology practice, Winter said she’s met patients who don’t understand their bodies, don’t know where their own clitorises are, or are generally disconnected from their own sexuality. While the penis is easy to read—one can look down and see that they have a boner, or not, along a scale of flaccidity and erection—the clitoris isn’t as obvious. But it gets boned up just the same. And it was only a matter of time before someone gave it the smartwatch treatment.