Nerve of Clitoris


Image Caption : Nerve of Clitoris: Medical visualization of the nerves of the glans clitoris and prepuce. The sexual organs contain a dense concentration of nerves, which contribute extensively to the sensations of passionate pleasure. In particular, the glans of the penis and its female counterpart, the head of the clitoris, are some of the most densely innervated parts of the human body.

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

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.

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STRUCTURE OF A NERVE

A nerve contains bundles of nerve fibers, either axons or dendrites, surrounded by connective tissue. Sensory nerves contain only afferent fibers, long dendrites of sensory neurons. Motor nerves have only efferent fibers, long axons of motor neurons. Mixed nerves contain both types of fibers.

A connective tissue sheath called the epineurium surrounds each nerve. Each bundle of nerve fibers is called a fasciculus and is surrounded by a layer of connective tissue called the perineurium. Within the fasciculus, each individual nerve fiber, with its myelin and neurilemma, is surrounded by connective tissue called the endoneurium. A nerve may also have blood vessels enclosed in its connective tissue wrappings.

National Cancer Institute / NIH

NEURONS

Neurons, or nerve cells, carry out the functions of the nervous system by conducting nerve impulses. They are highly specialized and amitotic. This means that if a neuron is destroyed, it cannot be replaced because neurons do not go through mitosis. The image below illustrates the structure of a typical neuron.

Illustration of a neuron

Each neuron has three basic parts: cell body (soma), one or more dendrites, and a single axon.

Cell Body

In many ways, the cell body is similar to other types of cells. It has a nucleus with at least one nucleolus and contains many of the typical cytoplasmic organelles. It lacks centrioles, however. Because centrioles function in cell division, the fact that neurons lack these organelles is consistent with the amitotic nature of the cell.

Dendrites

Dendrites and axons are cytoplasmic extensions, or processes, that project from the cell body. They are sometimes referred to as fibers. Dendrites are usually, but not always, short and branching, which increases their surface area to receive signals from other neurons. The number of dendrites on a neuron varies. They are called afferent processes because they transmit impulses to the neuron cell body. There is only one axon that projects from each cell body. It is usually elongated and because it carries impulses away from the cell body, it is called an efferent process.

Axon

An axon may have infrequent branches called axon collaterals. Axons and axon collaterals terminate in many short branches or telodendria. The distal ends of the telodendria are slightly enlarged to form synaptic bulbs. Many axons are surrounded by a segmented, white, fatty substance called myelin or the myelin sheath. Myelinated fibers make up the white matter in the CNS, while cell bodies and unmyelinated fibers make the gray matter. The unmyelinated regions between the myelin segments are called the nodes of Ranvier.

In the peripheral nervous system, the myelin is produced by Schwann cells. The cytoplasm, nucleus, and outer cell membrane of the Schwann cell form a tight covering around the myelin and around the axon itself at the nodes of Ranvier. This covering is the neurilemma, which plays an important role in the regeneration of nerve fibers. In the CNS, oligodendrocytes produce myelin, but there is no neurilemma, which is why fibers within the CNS do not regenerate.

Functionally, neurons are classified as afferent, efferent, or interneurons (association neurons) according to the direction in which they transmit impulses relative to the central nervous system. Afferent, or sensory, neurons carry impulses from peripheral sense receptors to the CNS. They usually have long dendrites and relatively short axons. Efferent, or motor, neurons transmit impulses from the CNS to effector organs such as muscles and glands. Efferent neurons usually have short dendrites and long axons. Interneurons, or association neurons, are located entirely within the CNS in which they form the connecting link between the afferent and efferent neurons. They have short dendrites and may have either a short or long axon.

National Cancer Institute / NIH


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