The clitoris. The only known organ in the human body solely for pleasure has had a confusing history. While this is an interesting fact, what is more interesting is that there is a whole organ in the female body which has only recently been discovered to its full extent.
While the clitoris (in some form) has popped in and out of anatomy text books over the years, the time of the clitoris is finally upon us. The full structure of the clitoris was realised when Australian Urologist Helen O’Connell conducted research, published in 1998, which uncovered the full internal organ through dissection. This was later followed up in 2005 with research focusing on taking MRI's of the region. French researchers later added to this body of work in 2008 and 2009 with a 3D exploration. These studies have documented the complex interactions between the vagina, urethra and the clitoris which has led to the wider use of interrelated terms such as The Clitoral Complex or the Clitoral Urethral Vestibule Complex.
So what do we now know about the clitoris?
As you can see from the diagram below, the clitoris is much larger than the external 'glans' component. The clitoris is a mostly internal organ with only the tip showing at the top of the vulva. It is made up of the same type of tissue as the penis (homologous tissue) and grows significantly in size when aroused. With 8,000 nerve endings compared to 4,000 on the head of the penis it is incredibly sensitive.
Due to the discovery of the full extent of the Clitoral Complex, our understanding of female orgasms has developed. It is now thought that even vaginal orgasms are most likely caused by stimulation of the internal body of the clitoris. More information on this can be found on the G Spot page.
The clitoris is finally having its moment in the sun and there are many good resources available online if you would like more information. Here are a couple to get you started:
- The Clitoris: A complete sex guide by Paul Joannides.
The author of The Guide to Getting It On has produced an informative 5 minute video which has real life images of the clitoris and provides informative information.
- The Cliteracy Project.
Produced by The Huffington Post, this project provides interesting information about all things clitoris!