Things You Never Knew About the Clitoris

Demystifying the mystery.


Brace yourselves, there's a whole lot to know about the clitoris that they didn't teach us in health class. You may know a thing or two about the functions of the clitoris; but did you know that it actually gets erect? To help you become a bit more "cliterate," here are 10 facts about this amazing part of your anatomy.

What Is the Clitoris?

The clitoris is located at the top of the vulva. The vulva refers to the outside parts of your genitalia and it includes the opening to the vagina, clitoris, labia (folds of skin around the vagina), and opening of the urethra (where pee comes out).

What Is the Purpose of the Clitoris?

Even though the clitoris is a part of the reproductive system, it doesn't have a reproductive function. The clitoris is actually the only organ in the body with the sole function of providing pleasure.

When it comes to climaxing, "the clitoris is really, really crucial," said Jim Pfaus, PhD, professor and sex researcher at Concordia University in Montreal.

Interesting Facts About the Clitoris

Now you understand the anatomy and the function, but what else is there to know about the clitoris?

There's Much More Than Meets the Eye

When people talk about the clitoris, they're usually just talking about the glans, "the very sensitive outside part," said Rebecca Chalker, PhD, Professor of Sexology at Pace University and author of The Clitoral Truth. But the bump you can see on the vulva is only the tip of an iceberg.

There is more to the clitoris than the glans; there are two internal shafts that are spongy, 5 inches long, and extend along the sides of the vagina. These parts are called the shaft and the crura. Like much of the clitoris, these sac-like structures of tissue become engorged with blood when you get aroused.

It’s Got a Lot of Nerve

The clitoris is the most nerve-rich part of the vulva, said Debra Herbenick, PhD, a sexual health educator from The Kinsey Institute. The glans contains about 8,000 nerve endings, making it the powerhouse of pleasure.

Every Clitoris Is Different

Everyone is unique, so why would clitorises be any different? Every person needs a different kind of stimulation to feel satisfied, depending on their unique biology. "Just because it's sensitive doesn't mean everyone wants it to be stimulated directly," Herbenick said. "Some women prefer touching near the clitoris but not on it." Pfaus agreed: "If she's too sensitive with direct stimulation, more of that may make her want to kill you."

It's the Real G-spot

We've all heard about the infamous G-spot. That's because the G-spot is actually the clitoris. This notorious pleasure zone became sensationalized back in the 80s which, as Chalker explained, "created this idea that if you could only access the G-spot inside the vagina, it would promote female orgasm." One way is not better than another way, Pfaus added; it's really about exploring the possibilities to find out what you like best.

It’s Very Similar to the Penis

The clitoris and the penis are somewhat mirror images of each other, just organized differently, Chalker explained. "In fact, up until two weeks of pregnancy, all embryos appear to be female." The gonads, or sex glands, of a fetus will either become testes or ovaries. "None of these parts disappear, they just get rearranged," Chalker said. With this concept in mind, Chalker pointed out: "If you consider the clitoris only consisting of the glans, then that's like saying the only part of a penis is the tip."

It Even Gets Erect

When we talk about erection, we can't just talk about the penis, Pfaus said. We have to talk about the clitoris. Sure, it might be less noticeable for women, but it can definitely be observed and felt. This occurs when the vestibular bulbs become engorged with blood during arousal. The blood is then trapped here until released via orgasmic spasms.

Size Doesn't Matter

Just like penises, clits come in all shapes and sizes. And size doesn't matter for either, Chalker explained. "Think of it this way: since the brain is your main sex organ, the genitals are simply the receptors of pleasure. It has to do with visual, tactile, and oral stimulation," Chalker said, "rather, than the actual size of the clit. So while glans may vary from woman to woman, this shouldn't affect the pleasure-potential."

It Can Grow With Age

Although the size of your clitoris doesn't impact your sex life, don't be surprised if it changes dimensions over your lifetime. According to Chalker, due to a change in hormone levels after menopause, the clit may enlarge for many women. So if you notice some differences in the size of your clitoris over time, don't be alarmed.

A Quick Review

This reproductive organ can vary in size and shape and is different for each person. The clitoris is the only organ that is created just for pleasure, with no other function. If you are curious about your own anatomy, you can explore your clitoris by yourself or with a partner.

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  1. Planned Parenthood. What are the parts of the female sexual anatomy?

  2. Planned Parenthood. Where is the clitoris?

  3. StatPearls. Anatomy, abdomen and pelvis, female external genitalia.

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