Clitoris


Image Caption : Female Pelvis Showing Clitoris: Three-dimensional visualization reconstructed from scanned human data; lateral cross-section of a woman's pelvic region. The clitoris sits just below the symphysis pubis, while the uterus and vaginal canal frame the right side of the image; the labia minora are located directly below, and the fat pad of the mons pubis is to the top left. In this image the clitoris is in a relaxed state. The clitoris is a female sexual organ comprised of erectile tissue which fills will blood upon arousal. It is homologous to the penis, and is similarly composed of corpus cavernosum, but functions solely to induce sexual pleasure. And, also unlike the penis, it contains no venous plexus to suspend the blood within, allowing it to distend and relax with ease to allow for multiple orgasms. The clitoris contains 8,000 nerve endings-twice as many as the penis and the most of any external structure in the body including fingers, lips and tongue.

Clitoris

An erectile structure homologous with the penis, situated beneath the anterior labial commissure, partially hidden between the anterior ends of the labia minora.

National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine

EXTERNAL GENITALIA

The external genitalia are the accessory structures of the female reproductive system that are external to the vagina. They are also referred to as the vulva or pudendum. The external genitalia include the labia majora, mons pubis, labia minora, clitoris, and glands within the vestibule.

The clitoris is an erectile organ, similar to the male penis, that responds to sexual stimulation. Posterior to the clitoris, the urethra, vagina, paraurethral glands and greater vestibular glands open into the vestibule.

Illustration of female genetalia

Illustration of the organs of the female reproductive system

National Cancer Institute / NIH

External Female Genitals

The external female reproductive structures are referred to collectively as the vulva (Figure). The mons pubis is a pad of fat that is located at the anterior, over the pubic bone. After puberty, it becomes covered in pubic hair. The labia majora (labia = "lips"; majora = "larger") are folds of hair-covered skin that begin just posterior to the mons pubis. The thinner and more pigmented labia minora(labia = "lips"; minora = "smaller") extend medial to the labia majora. Although they naturally vary in shape and size from woman to woman, the labia minora serve to protect the female urethra and the entrance to the female reproductive tract.

The superior, anterior portions of the labia minora come together to encircle the clitoris (or glans clitoris), an organ that originates from the same cells as the glans penis and has abundant nerves that make it important in sexual sensation and orgasm. The hymen is a thin membrane that sometimes partially covers the entrance to the vagina. An intact hymen cannot be used as an indication of "virginity"; even at birth, this is only a partial membrane, as menstrual fluid and other secretions must be able to exit the body, regardless of penile-vaginal intercourse. The vaginal opening is located between the opening of the urethra and the anus. It is flanked by outlets to the Bartholin's glands (or greater vestibular glands).

The Vulva

This figure shows the parts of the vulva. The right panel shows the external anterior view and the left panel shows the internal anteriolateral view. The major parts are labeled.

The external female genitalia are referred to collectively as the vulva.

Download for free at http://cnx.org/contents/9cccba49-6490-4e5b-a366-9991b7dbc56c@5

The clitoris (/ˈklɪtərs/ or /klˈtɔərs/) is a female sex organ present in mammals, ostriches and a limited number of other animals. In humans, the visible button-like portion is near the front junction of the labia minora (inner lips), above the opening of the urethra. Unlike the penis, the male homologue (equivalent) to the clitoris, it usually does not contain the distal portion (or opening) of the urethra and is therefore not used for urination. While few animals urinate through the clitoris, the spotted hyena, which has an especially well-developed clitoris, urinates, mates and gives birth via the organ. Some other carnivorous animals, or mammals in particular, such as lemurs and spider monkeys, also have a well-developed clitoris.

The clitoris is the human female's most sensitive erogenous zone and generally the primary anatomical source of human female sexual pleasure. In humans and other mammals, it develops from an outgrowth in the embryo called the genital tubercle. Initially undifferentiated, the tubercle develops into either a penis or a clitoris, depending on the presence or absence of the protein tdf, which is codified by a single gene on the Y chromosome. The clitoris is a complex structure, and its size and sensitivity can vary. The glans (head) of the human clitoris is roughly the size and shape of a pea, and is estimated to have more than 8,000 sensory nerve endings.

Extensive sociological, sexological and medical debate have focused on the clitoris, primarily concerning anatomical accuracy, orgasmic factors and their physiological explanation for the G-spot, and whether the clitoris is vestigial, an adaptation, or serves a reproductive function. Social perceptions of the clitoris range from the significance of its role in female sexual pleasure, assumptions about its true size and depth, and varying beliefs regarding genital modification such as clitoris enlargement, clitoris piercing and clitoridectomy; genital modification may be for aesthetic, medical or cultural reasons.

Knowledge of the clitoris is significantly impacted by cultural perceptions of the organ. Studies suggest that knowledge of its existence and anatomy is scant in comparison with that of other sexual organs, and that more education about it could help alleviate social stigmas associated with the female body and female sexual pleasure; for example, that the clitoris and vulva in general are visually unappealing, that female masturbation is taboo, or that men should be expected to master and control women's orgasms.


Related Images

Child development - External Genitalia of a Newborn Female
Child development - External ...
female genital system
female genital system
female genital system
female genital system
female genital system
female genital system
female genital system
female genital system
female genital system
female genital system
Female genital prolapse
Female genital prolapse
Female Genitalia
Female Genitalia

The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult a licensed medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions and before starting a new diet or exercise program. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.