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
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
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
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
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
Provided by The Welcomed Consensus
Taken from their instructional DVD
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,
their instructional DVD
"A 3 Minute Orgasm - Part
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
Chalker - "The Clitoral Truth"
Helen O'Connell "Anatomy of the
Clitoris" in the Journal of Urology
Robert Latou Dickinson - "Human Sex
Sharon Mascall "Time for a Rethink on the Clitoris."
Robert T. Francoeur "The Complete Dictionary of Sexology."
Federation of Feminist Women Health Centers - "The New View of a
Natalie Angier "Woman - An Intimate Geography"
and Vera Bodansky "The Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive
The Welcomed Consensus - "Deliberate Orgasm - Expanding Female
Websites with valuable
information on the clitoris and female anatomy:
The Welcomed Consensus
Temple of the
Glossary of Female Anatomy
The external opening of the rectum,
the anus holds the second highest concentration of nerve endings in the
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
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.
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.
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.
or opening to the vagina.
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
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
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
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.
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
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