The clitoris is hugely overdue for appreciation. We, as a society, are amazed by the human brain. We constantly acknowledge its awe-inspiring ability. We study it, analyze it, and have professionals such as neurologists help us when the brain is not performing as expected. But the clitoris? It does not receive the same attention or admiration.

From a medical standpoint a professional analysis does not exist for the clitoris…why? Let me clarify. A urologist exists to examine the four functions of the penis (urination, sensation, penetration, and ejaculation). A gynecologist exists for taking care of the vagina, cervix, and uterus however there is one huge caveat the gyno typically ignores. During an office visit, questions about the condition of your (if you have one) clitoris are rarely asked. Questions such as: How is your clitoris reacting to stimuli? Do you have any concerns or questions about your clitoris?

For generations, the medical field has not trained its physicians to understand the clitoris thoroughly. It has been dismissed. Why you ask? Because they didn’t know it existed nor did they want to give homage to the clitoris.

The penis has been the medical field’s (and many other professions’) main focus. We can blame the past for this unbalanced focus between men’s and women’s sexual functions. As the saying goes, living in the past; stuck in the past.

Let’s discuss this history…

Brief History of Orgasms: Vaginal vs. Clitoral

The name clitoris came from the Greek word Klietorus. Rachel E. Gross’s Scientific American article states, “What is crazy is that, starting with the ancient Greeks, it took humans more than 2,000 years to develop this understanding—despite the fact that about half of the population has a clitoris. Though female anatomy has not changed all that much, our understanding of it sure has. Throughout history, the clitoris has been lost, found, and lost again, with male anatomists jostling one another over who deserves credit for its “discovery.”

 Medical textbooks have started incorporating the anatomy of the clitoris into their textbooks for the past several years, however, there is still a lack of consistency.

The mental health impact started with Freud’s sexist thinking. He believed the clitoral orgasm was immature because women could obtain this on their own, while only a mature orgasm happened vaginally through penetration. This 100-year-old notion has caused decades of anguish since it was believed there was something wrong if vaginal intercourse did not lead to an orgasm. This led to many women faking orgasms. In addition, it was thought mental health stability was tied to the ability to have a vaginal orgasm.


The Clitoris Organ

The clitoris has 18 parts to it and 90 percent of the parts are not seen. In a journal article, Dr. Helen O’Connell stated in the results section “The clitoris is a multiplanar structure with a broad attachment to the pubic arch and via extensive supporting tissue to the mons pubis and labia. Centrally it is attached to the urethra and vagina. Its components include the erectile bodies (paired bulbs and paired corpora, which are continuous with the crura) and the glans clitoris”. 

The clitoris is an organ packed with thousands of nerve endings. The external part which can be typically seen is known as the glans clitoris. Visually you can see the glans clitoris as a tiny nub, for lack of a better word, and it is above the urethra opening. You can also see the clitoral hood which is part of the labia minora, and the hood is at the top of the vulva.

You cannot see the majority of the clitoral body because it is internal. It is shaped like an upside-down wishbone, that has two legs that wrap around the vagina. These two legs are referred to as crura. In between the crura and vaginal wall are the vestibular bulbs; these bulbs swell when aroused. The last part is the root, the erectile nerves, and this is where the legs of the crura come together.

As stated by the Cleveland Clinic, “Except for your glans, your clitoris consists of erectile tissue that fills with blood and expands when stimulated. This erectile tissue is similar to the tissue in the penis. When you’re aroused, the crura and the vestibule bulbs can expand so much that they cause your labia to swell. Your swollen labia may partially or completely cover your glans. Or, the swelling may cause your glans to stick out more”.

Clitoris Purpose

The clitoris has several physical forms regardless of how it looks its sole purpose is pleasure.
It is an intricate network of erectile tissue and nerves that make it the most sensitive erogenous zone. The intricacies of the clitoris, both internal and external, are why women enjoy sex.

Embracing and exploring the internal and external clitoral part of the female body would not only answer the questions about what orgasms feel like but also answers questions about when, where, and how often they can happen. Getting to know one’s clitoris leads to personal sexual empowerment and can encourage communicating about what is needed for sexual pleasure.


Continued Limitations

Limitations have been forced onto women throughout history with regard to voting, income, equal rights, mental health, and sexual pleasure. This imbalance has existed throughout history and continues still today.

The irony behind these limitations with regard to sexual pleasure is that had society, medicine, and the media embraced the full capacity of the clitoris, couples wouldn’t be complaining about the imbalances in the bedroom. There would be more interest in sex and less doubt about desire, pleasure, and sexual ability. There would be more exploration such as experimenting with the so-called g-spot, the joys of anal play, and masturbation.

The clitoris is connected to the brain similar to how the brain is connected to the penis. All of the senses are arousal points for the clitoris. However, the gender differences in femininity and masculinity have socialized us to ignore what the clitoris has to offer. The clitoris is the sexual powerhouse and it is equally as important as the penis.

Don’t allow anyone to minimize this bodily gift. Society must change its focus to understanding the clitoris from all perspectives: physical, mental, and sexual.

If you are interested in expanding your understanding of the clitoris, the book Becoming Cliterate by Dr. Laurie Mintz is a K&T recommended resource.