The Clitoris
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Clitorian Anatomy

As suggested in The Oxford English Dictionary the proper pronunciation for the clitoris is KLY tor ihs and offers that the etymology is from the Greek meaning to shut. Many sources take kleitoris literally from the Greek "little hill". Other possible contenders are: key or latch, to touch or titillate lasciviously, to tickle, to be inclined toward pleasure, and being from the same root as climax. Clitoris has been noted in German slang
as der Kitzler meaning "the tickler".

The clitoris is homologous to the penis, meaning that they originate from the same tissue. Up until about 12 weeks of fetal development the genital tubercle is undifferentiated. During embryogenesis the action of testosterone is triggered and this tissue develops into the clitoris or the penis, along with all other major organ systems.

The clitoris is formed out of a rich collection of capillary tissue called the corpus cavernosum, and is a complex structure which includes external and internal components.

External Female Anatomy

Externally you find the clitoral hood or prepuce, which covers the shaft of the clitoris and in full or part the head or glans. The glans of the clitoris is made of a simple bundle of 8000 nerve fibers, estimated to be twice the number found in the penis, making it particularly well-suited for pleasurable stimulation.

Also in view are the labia minora or inner lips, labia majora or outer lips, and the introitis or entrance into the vagina.

The clitoris begins at the front commissure, where the edges of the labia majora meet. The clitoral shaft then extends several centimeters upwards and into the body before splitting into the two legs or crura, which extend around and to the interior of the outer labia forming an inverted "V".

Taken from "She Comes First" by Ian Kerner

Internal Female Anatomy

Inside the body are the legs or crura, urethral sponge, clitoral bulb (previously referred to as vestibule bulb) and corpora, perineal sponge, a network of nerves and blood vessels, suspensory ligaments, muscles and pelvic diaphragm.

There is considerable variation among women with regard to how much of the clitoris protrudes from the hood and how much is covered by it, ranging from completely covered invisibility to full, protruding visibility. An article published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in July 1992 states that the average width of the clitoral glans to be with in the range of 2 1/2  to 4 1/2 mm indicating that the average size is smaller than a pencil eraser.

There is NO correlation between the size of a woman's clitoris and her age, including following menopause, height, weight or use of oral contraceptives, but women who had given birth do tend to have slightly larger measurements.

Masters and Johnson were the first in contemporary research to find that the clitoral structures surround and extend along the vagina, determining that all orgasms are of clitoral origin.

However, it was apparent decades before their research, the full structure of the clitoris. Dr. Robert L. Dickinson, once known as "the Dean of American Gynecologsts," published detailed anatomical drawings of female pelvic anatomy before World War One. He estimated that the length of the average adult clitoris from the tip of the glans to the ends of the crura is about 4 inches, with all except the glans located inside the body.

More recently, Australian urologist Dr. Helen O'Connell, using MRI technology, noted that direct relationship between the legs or roots of the clitoris and the erectile tissue of the clitoral bulbs and corpora, and the distal urethra and vagina. She asserts that this interconnected relationship is the physiological explanation for the G-spot and women's experience of vaginal orgasm taking into account the stimulation of the internal parts of the clitoris during vaginal penetration. Women who experience orgasm from both direct clitoral stimulation of the glans and vaginal access to the internal bodies distinguish between them in terms of both the physical and general sensations associated with each.

During sexual arousal and during orgasm, the clitoris and the whole of the female genitalia engorge and change color as these erectile tissues fill with blood, and the woman experiences vaginal contractions. Master and Johnson created the sexual response cycle, which has four phases as a way to describe the human orgasm. More recent research has documented that women can experience a sustained intense orgasm through stimulation of the clitoris and remain in the orgasmic phase for much longer than the original studies described, evidenced by genital engorgement and color changes, vaginal contractions and ejaculation.

Provided by The Welcomed Consensus
Taken from their instructional DVD
"Manual Penetration while DOing"

This drawing shows how the clitoris and labia enlarge and
extend outward when engorged shown by the dotted lines.

Provided by The Welcomed Consensus,
Taken from their instructional DVD
"A 3 Minute Orgasm - Part 1"

Special Note:
It should be noted that there are no pressure sensitive nerve endings in the vaginal walls. However, within the deeper tissue there are numerous pressure-sensitive nerve endings (such as in the clitoral legs, the sciatic nerves running through the pelvis and upper thighs, the rectal nerves, etc.) which, when a woman is properly engorged, can be pleasurably stimulated from within the vagina. In view of the fact that the clitoral nerves can be stimulated through the clitoral body (e.g. the so-called "G-spot" and other areas referred to as "Thunkspots") as well as by direct stimulation of the glans, it is contended that all orgasm is clitoral

Rebecca Chalker - "The Clitoral Truth"
Helen O'Connell "Anatomy of the Clitoris" in the Journal of Urology
Robert Latou Dickinson - "Human Sex Anatomy"
Sharon Mascall  "Time for a Rethink on the Clitoris." BBC News
Robert T. Francoeur "The Complete Dictionary of Sexology."
Federation of Feminist Women Health Centers - "The New View of a Woman's Body"
Natalie Angier "Woman - An Intimate Geography"
Steve and Vera Bodansky "The Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive Orgasm"
The Welcomed Consensus - "Deliberate Orgasm - Expanding Female Orgasm"

Websites with valuable information on the clitoris and female anatomy:
The Welcomed Consensus
Temple of the Clitoris

Glossary of Female Anatomy

The external opening of the rectum, the anus holds the second highest concentration of nerve endings in the body.

Clitoral Body
Attached to the head of the clitoris, and running just beneath the surface of the skin, the clitoral body is composed of spongy erectile tissue. The shaft of the clitoris extends from the head toward the pubic mound, then curves sharply and forks like a wishbone into two thin legs (crura) that flare downward across the either side of the urethral sponge and vagina.

Clitoral Glans

The head of the clitoris rests atop the unseen shaft and legs of the clitoris. The glans has over eight thousand nerve endings -- the highest concentration of nerve endings the body.

Clitoral Hood
A protective hood, partially or completely shrouding the clitoral glans.

Below the introitis where the labia minora meet.  This area can be torn during childbirth, so it is common for doctors and midwives to perform an episiotomy by cutting from the fourchette into the perinium. 

Frenulum (Vestibule)
Below the head of the clitoris, the inner edges of the labia minora meet to form the frenulum, a small expanse of soft sensitive skin, also called the vestibule.

The entrance or opening to the vagina.

Labia Majora
Also called the outer lips or labia. The outer sides of the labia majora are covered with pubic hair, while the inner sides are smooth and contain sweat and oil glands.

Labia Minora
The labia minora are enfolded within the labia majora. Also known as the inner labia, they surround the the introitus or opening to the vagina and meet at the head of the clitoris. The labia minora are made up of erectile tissue and are dense with nerve endings.

The small expanse of sensitive skin just beneath the vaginal entrance and above the anus, the perineum comprises a network of blood vessels and tissue.

Mons Pubis (Pubic Mound)
A thick pad of fatty tissue which is covered in pubic hair. Also referred to as the mound of Venus or pubic mound, the mons pubis forms a soft mound over the pubic bone.

A narrow tube through which urine passes out of the body from the bladder. The urethral opening is located above the introitus and below the clitoris.

Urethral sponge
A spongy cushion of erectile tissue surrounding the urethra. The urethral sponge is sometimes visible in the introitus.

A moist canal extending from the introitus or vaginal opening to the uterus.

Copyright 2005 - 2008 Clitorian