Brace yourselves ladies, thereâs a whole lot to know about the clitoris that they didnât teach us in health class. While you've probably heard the many unfortunate nicknames for this body part (including "the bean"â who came up with that?), and you definitely know a thing or two about the ahem, functions, of the clitoris, you might not know that it actually gets erect, for example.
Yep, "lady boners" (another very unfortunate nickname, sorry) are real.
To help you become a bit more "cliterate," here are 10 facts about this amazing part of your anatomy.
It's truly unique
When it comes to climaxing, âthe clitoris is really, really crucial,â says Jim Pfaus, PhD, professor and sex researcher at Concordia University in Montreal. But that's not the only thing that makes it special: the clitoris is actually the only organ in the body with theÂ sole function ofÂ providing pleasure.
It's long been a mystery
Until 1998 most textbooks only illustrated the external glans. That's when Helen O'Connell, an Australian urologist, revealedÂ through a series of MRI studies that the clitoris is actually a complex, powerful organ system composed of a total of eighteenÂ parts, two thirds of which are interior.
Itâs much more than meets the eye
âWhen people talk about the clitoris, theyâre usually just talking about the glansâthe very sensitive outside part,â says Rebecca Chalker, PhD, Professor of Sexology at Pace University and author of The Clitoral Truth ($12, amazon.com). But the bump you can see on the vulva is only the tip of an iceberg.
The internal part is connected to the glans by the corpora cavernosa, twoÂ spongeyÂ areasÂ ofÂ erectile tissue. Farther down,Â the corpora cavernosa branches off intoÂ a pair ofÂ wings known as the crura which extend into the body and around the vaginal canal like a wishbone. Then, underneath the crura are theÂ clitoral vestibules,Â or vestibular bulbs. Like muchÂ of the clitoris, these sac-like structures of tissue become engorged with blood when you get aroused.
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It's got a lot of nerve
The clitoris is the most nerve-rich part of the vulva, says Debra Herbenick, PhD, a sexual health educator from The Kinsey Institute.Â The glans contains about 8,000 nerve endings, making it the powerhouse of pleasure.Â To get someÂ perspective,Â that's twice as many nerve endings as the penis.Â And its potential doesnât end there. This tiny erogenous zone spreads the feeling to 15,000 other nerves in the pelvis, which explains why it feels like your whole body is being taken over by yourÂ O-M-G moment.
Every woman's is different
Women are all unique, so why would clitorises be any different? Every woman needs a different kind of stimulation to feel satisfied, depending on her unique biology. âJust because it's sensitive doesn't mean everyone wants it to be stimulated directly," Herbenick says. "Some women prefer touching near the clitoris but not on it.â Pfaus agrees: âIf sheâs too sensitive with direct stimulation, more of that may make her want to kill you.â
Itâs the real G-spot
Weâve all heard about the infamous G-spot: Does it exist? Do all women have one? Yes and yes. That's because the G-spot is actually the clitoris. This notorious pleasure zone became sensationalized back in the 80s which, as Chalker explains,Â "createdÂ this idea that if you could only access the G-spotÂ inside the vagina, it wouldÂ promote female orgasm." But we've since learned that some women may feel more sensation via the internal shafts of the clitoral complex (hence why some women might like vaginal penetration more than others), while others prefer external touch. One way is not better than another way, Pfaus adds; it's really about exploring the possibilities to find out what you like best.
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It's very similar to the penis...
âThe clitoris and the penis are somewhat mirror images of each other, just organized differently,â Chalker explains. "In fact, up until two weeks of pregnancy, all embryos appear to be female." It's not until weekÂ eight of gestation that testosterone kicks in and the penis starts to form. "None of these parts disappear, they just get rearranged," Chalker says. For example the internal part of the clitoris, also made of erectile tissue, becomes the frame of the penis.Â With this concept in mind,Â Chalker points out:Â âIf you consider the clitoris only consisting ofÂ the glans, then thatâs like saying the only part of a penis is the tip.â
...It even gets erect
âWhen we talk about erection, we canât just talk about the penis,â Pfaus says. âWe have to talk about the clitoris.â Sure, it might be less noticeable for women, but it can definitely be observed and felt.Â This occurs when the vestibular bulbs become engorged with blood during arousal. The blood is then trapped here until released via orgasmic spasms.
Size doesnât matter
Like men, women can get self-conscious about their sexy parts. But guess what? Just like penises,Â clits come in allÂ shapes and sizes. And size doesnât matter for either, Chalker explains.Â Think of it this way: since the brain is yourÂ main sex organ, the genitals are simply the receptors of pleasure. âIt has to do with visual, tactile, and oral stimulation," Chalker says, "rather that the actual size of the clit. So while glans may vary from woman to woman, this shouldnât affect the pleasure-potential." Also worth noting: chances are sizeÂ doesn't (or, at least, shouldn't) matter to your partner.
It can grow with age
Although the size of your clitoris doesnât impact your sex life, donât be surprised if it changes dimensions over your lifetime. According to Chalker, due to a changeÂ in hormone levels after menopause, the clit may enlarge for many women. So if you notice some differencesÂ in the size of your lady parts over time, donât be alarmed.
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