The clitoris is a wonder. Despite the tales many of us grew up with, it isn’t a Rubik's cube, and it is not hard to find. The reasons these wild myths continue to thrive is because we have a terrible, no good, dirty-rotten sex education system that fails us at every turn.
Did you ever hear the word “clitoris” in school? We didn’t think so. So it’s vital that we educate ourselves—our sexual wellness depends on it. You deserve to know about your body, how it works, and what it can do. (And, you know, knowing basic human anatomy is also a plus.)
Here is everything you need to know about the clitoris. Take it in, and share the knowledge. Let’s all join the Clitorati.
The clitoris is enormous.
Fact: The clitoris is not a hidden gem in a sea of hidden female treasure, nor is it in any way small. The clitoris is so much more than bump on the top of the vulva (a.k.a.: the glans clitoris). The glans clitoris is about 0.5 to 2 cm. (Size will vary from woman to woman—just like with male anatomy.)
There is also a huge internal part of the clitoris that you cannot see with the naked eye. It can reach up to five inches in some women. (Five inches is roughly the size of the average penis, in case you were wondering.) The clit contains bulbous internal extensions (the vestibular bulbs) and wings on either side (the corpus cavernosum). In a sonogram picture it looks a bit like a wishbone, extending into the labia and abdominal area. If you flipped the clitoris to the outside of the body, it wouldn’t be very different from a penis. Basically, men and women are not as different as you think.
And we knew none of this until the ‘90s.
This news should be shocking, but it’s really not. Most women still don’t know anything about their bodies, let alone that the clitoris is actually huge.
The medical community didn’t know about the full internal structure of the clitoris until a female (shocker!) urologist named Helen O’Connell, M.D., figured it out while dissecting cadavers. She published her work, “The Anatomy of the Clitoris,” in 1998.
While we were in the bathtub discovering the magical epiphanies of the shower head on our downstairs bits, scientists didn’t think there was much to explore with the clit. It wasn’t until MRIs were done of the clitoris that its full structure was finally revealed. The first 3D images of the clitoris weren’t shown until 2008. Yes, 2008. That’s not a joke.
The clitoris is part of the vulva, not the vagina.
To be completely honest, “Vagina” is probably the most misused word in the entire English language. The clitoris is a part of the vulva, the outside region of the female genitalia. The female genitals are not a “vagina.” The vagina is the internal canal that reaches up to the cervix. The rest of the vulva includes the mons pubis, inner labia, outer labia, and everything else on the outer portion.
The reason for this misnomer is depressingly simple. The vagina is where a penis goes during intercourse, making it the most important part of a woman’s body for male pleasure and orgasm. Since we live in a culture that prizes male orgasm over female orgasm, people typically refer to the female genitals as the “vagina.” Not cute.
The clitoris has almost 8,000 nerve endings.
The clitoris is absolutely jam-packed with nerve-endings. Perhaps we should put the lame “myth of the female orgasm” excuse (so our partners don’t have to try) to rest. The clitoris has more concentrated, touch-sensitive nerves than anywhere else on the human body, including the penis. In fact, it has about twice as many nerves as the penis.
The majority of these nerve endings are clustered in the glans clitoris, the rosebud you see on the outside of the vulva. When sexually aroused, the clitoris can expand to 200 percent its normal size. It has a protective hood just like the foreskin that protects the head of the penis.
There is a HUGE likelihood you need your clitoris engaged to have an orgasm.
There is a lot of talk about the pleasure gap and questions abound about why women seem to “enjoy sex less” than men. Well, it’s actually not a mystery.
The pleasure gap exists because women are not getting clitoral stimulation during penis and vagina sex. Orgasms do not happen this way.
Studies have shown that only 25 percent of women can have an orgasm through intercourse alone. Twenty-five sounds like a small fraction, right? It doesn’t even begin to cover it. The study from which this widely cited stat comes from does not take into account the women who stimulated their external clitoris during intercourse, whether with fingers, a toy, or otherwise.
When you look at this fact, the percentage of women who require clitoral stimulation drastically expand. Upon further investigation, it is closer to 95-99 percent of women who require clitoral stimulation to come. Basically, the clitoris is QUEEN and we should make it a regular part of sexual activity.