How many times have you heard the clitoris being referred to as the 'rosebud' or 'love button' or 'sensitive nub' or whatever else? We've called, and allowed our clitorises to be called, many names lovingly. But most of these names, and the assumptions implied by them, are grossly inaccurate. In reality, the clitoris is a complex organ capable of giving its owner unimagined pleasure, if only everyone knew what they were dealing with. Here are 6 astonishing facts about the clitoris we all should have been taught!
It is the size of a penis
Contrary to popular belief, the clitoris is not actually a pea-sized button that can be pressed to conjure up instant orgasms. On an average, the clitoris, all of it, not just the tip that is visible to us, is about 4 inches, long — about the length of a flaccid penis. What we see is just the tip of the iceberg. In reality, almost three-quarters of the clitoris is hidden inside the vagina and resembles a wishbone. The little 'nub' we are able to see is the glans, and is about 1.5 cm to 2 cm long. On the inside, the glans branches into two 'legs', or the crura. These 'legs' are about three inches long and extend downward around the vaginal walls.
It was only in 2009 that two French researchers gave the world its first complete 3D sonography of the stimulated clitoris.
Its exact anatomy was 'discovered' only in the 1990s
Ever wondered why so many of us know so little about the real anatomy of our and our partners' clitorises? It's because it is a relatively recent discovery — as recent as 1998, actually. In the 1990s, Dr Helen O'Connell, a urologist from the Royal Melbourne Hospital used the MRI to study the clitoris. She published her findings in 1998, revealing the true size of the clitoris to the medical world for the first time. Comparative detailed studies of the penile anatomy had been conducted in the 1970s. It was only in 2009 that two French researchers gave the world its first complete 3D sonography of the stimulated clitoris.
Its sole purpose is pleasure
The clitoris is the only part of the anatomy that has no purpose other than elevating sexual pleasure. It has no reproductive value and unlike the penis, which has the urethra running through it, is not involved in the process of urinating. A woman's urethra is located a few millimetres away from the glans. Considering that its only function is sexual pleasure for women and the inherent gender bias in science and research, it is not surprising that the clitoris was left unresearched for so long.
Since women's contractions during the orgasm extend to the pelvic area, it affects an additional 15,000 nerve endings.
It has twice as many nerve endings as the penis
The glans, or the exposed part of the clitoris, has a concentration of approximately 8,000 nerve endings, more than anywhere else in the body. The penis, by comparison, has about 4,000 nerve endings. To put that into context, consider the feet. The human foot is considered one of its most sensitive body part, and the slightest brush of the fingertips on the foot can make a person feel ticklish. The foot has about 7,000 nerve endings, lower than the clitoral glans. It gets even better. Since women's contractions during the orgasm extend to the pelvic area, it affects an additional 15,000 nerve endings. Oh wow.
Location, not size matters
When it comes to pleasurability, it is not the size of the clitoris, but the distance of the glans from the vaginal opening that counts. If the distance between the glans and the vaginal opening is about an inch, it increases the likelihood of an orgasm due to the friction caused by the movement of the penis. As it happens, the first revolutionary research to establish this relationship was carried out by Princess Marie Bonaparte, the great-grandniece of Napoleon Bonaparte. Frustrated due to her inability to orgasm through intercourse, she examined and interviewed 243 women and found the co-relation. The research was published in Europe in 1924 under a pen name, and based on her findings, in 1927, Princess Marie enlisted the help of a Viennese doctor to surgically remove her clitoris and move it closer to the vaginal openings. Unfortunately it was unsuccessful, because she didn't know the true size and scope of the clitoris.
The first research to establish that the distance between the glans and vaginal opening affected the chances of an orgasm was carried out by Princess Marie Bonaparte.
G-spots are actually just C-spots
The existence of the G-spot is a hotly debated topic among researchers, despite its overwhelming popularity in sexual discourse. One theory suggests that the idea of a vaginal orgasm achieved through penetration is actually just an internal clitoral orgasm, caused when, as the name suggests, the internal part of the clitoris is stimulated. In effect, what was previously considered the G-spot is actually the C-spot. According to this theory, just like the glans, the internal part of the clitoris is made up of erectile tissue that gets engorged with blood when a woman is aroused, creating pressure on the vaginal walls and other parts of the clitoris. When that happens, the added pressure caused by penetration during sex brings a woman to orgasm. Simply put, what this means is that all female orgasms involve the clitoris. And what we've been calling the elusive G-spot is just pleasurable pressure against the internal clitoris.