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The clitoris (plural: clitorides) is a sexual organin the body of femalemammals. The visible knob-like portion is located near the anteriorjunction of the labia minora, above the opening of the vagina. The clitoris has no urethra and functions solely to induce sexual pleasure. The only known exception to this is in the Spotted Hyena, where the urogenital systemis modified so that the female urinates, mates and gives birth via an enlarged, erectile clitoris.

The word: clitoris can be pronounced KLIHT uh rihs (['klɪtəɹəs] in IPAnotation (listen)) or klih TOHR ihs ([klɪ'tɔɹəs] (listen)). The OED suggests that KLY tor ihs (['klaɪtɒɹɪs]) is also used in the UK.


  • 1 Development and formation
  • 2 Recognition of existence
  • 3 Body modification
  • 4 Popular culture
  • 5 See also
  • 6 External links
    • 6.1 Illustrations

Development and formation

Image:Clitoris inner anatomy.gif Image:Vulvabigopen2(english).jpg Image:HumanVulva-NewText-PhiloViv.jpg The female clitoris corresponds to homologousparts of the malepenis, i.e., embryologicallyit comes from the same tissue that forms the penis. The trigger for forming a penis instead of a clitoris is the action of testosteronein utero.

The organ is formed out of corpus cavernosum, a rich collection of capillary tissuewith a substantial presence of nerve tissue. It contains roughly the same number of nerve endings as the penis[1], and it is particularly well-suited for sexual stimulation.

The outside portion of the clitoris, the clitoral glans, is entirely or partially covered by the clitoral hood or prepuce, tissue that is homologous to the foreskinin males and beneath which smegmais formed and may collect. In humans, the clitoral bodythen extends several centimetersupwards and to the back, before splitting into two arms, the clitoral crura. Shaped like an inverted "V", these crura extend around and to the interior of the labia majora. Including external and internal components, it is thought the clitoris is similar in size to the penis.

Most of the clitoris is hidden, and external stimulation of the entire clitoris can result in a more profound sexual response. There is considerable variation among women with regard to how much of the clitoris protrudes from the hood and how much is covered by it, ranging from complete, covered invisibility to full, protruding visibility. One explanation advanced for the vaginal orgasmis that it results from stimulation of the internal parts of the clitoris during vaginal penetration. Nevertheless, some women experience both clitoral and vaginal orgasms and distinguish between them in terms of both the physical and general sensations associated with each.

During sexual arousal, the clitoris enlarges as its erectile tissuefills with blood. Shortly before orgasm, this erection often increases further, drawing the clitoris upwards, so that viewed from the outside it actually appears to shrink.

Recognition of existence

Medical literaturefirst recognised the existence of the clitoris in the 16th century. This is the subject of some dispute: Realdo Colombo(also known as Matteo Renaldo Colombo) was a lecturerin surgeryat the University of Padua, Italy, and in 1559he published a book called De re anatomica in which he described the "seat of woman's delight". Colombo concluded, "Since no one has discerned these projections and their workings, if it is permissible to give names to things discovered by me, it should be called the love or sweetness of Venus."

Colombo's claim was disputed by his successor at Padua, Gabriele Falloppio(who discovered the fallopian tube), who claimed that he was the first to discover the clitoris. Caspar Bartholin, a 17th centuryDanish anatomist, dismissed both claims, arguing that the clitoris had been widely known to medical sciencesince the 2nd century.[2]

Noted researchers Masters and Johnson, Bostonbased researcher John Garabedian, and Dr. Matt Jaegerat the University of Kentuckyall conducted extensive studies of the clitoris.

In the 1970s, the word clitoris was considered offensive in the spoken English languageand is still seen as a tabooword by many people. The first use of clitoris on televisionin the United Statesis believed to have been by Dr. Rich O'Brien, a Harvardcolleague of Garabedian's, on the Dr. Ruth Westheimershow.

Body modification

Main article: genital modification and mutilation

The external part of the clitoris may be partially or totally removed during female circumcision(also known as a clitorectomy) in voluntary or involuntary procedures. The topic is highly controversial with many countries condemning the traditions that give rise to involuntary procedures with some countries outlawing even voluntary procedures. Amnesty Internationalestimates that over 2 million involuntary female circumcisions are being performed every year, mainly in Africancountries.

In various cultures, the clitoris is sometimes pierced. Piercings of the clitoris include a piercing of the clitoral hood, and the Isabella piercing, among many others. Some cultures at various times in history have practiced stretching, which can enlarge the clitoris, or can make it more visible.

Popular culture

  • In a Seinfeld episode, Jerry Seinfelddoes not remember his date's name - he only remembers that it rhymes with a female body part. His first guess of "Mulva" is off the mark. It finally comes to him: "Dolores".
  • Alice Walker's Possessing the Secret of Joy is a book about a tribal African Woman, Tashi, who because of a misguided loyalty to the customs of her people voluntarily submits herself to tsunga's knife and is circumcised. She is severely traumatized by this experience. The book encapsulates her journey through life as she tries to regain her ability to recognize her own reality and to feel.
  • The Anatomist (1998), a novel by Federico Andahazi ISBN 0385494009, describes Realdo Colombo's "discovery" and its personal consequences.
  • In a Family Guy episode, Tom Tuckerannounces an upcoming report on "the Clitoris, nature's Rubik's Cube."
  • An Australian motor sports television show (In Pit Laneon Channel 31Melbourne) occasionally carries news stories about motor sports events that have occurred in the United States, where the exact location is unknown or cannot be found out in the limited time before broadcast. These events are described as having taken place in "Clitoris, Missouri". This is a ribald reference to the previous point.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode Polymorph from season 3, Rimmer suggest that the crew name themselves "The Committee for the Liberation and Integration of Terrifying Organisms and their Rehabilitation Into Society", the only drawback being that the abbreviation is "CLITORIS".
  • In the Kevin Smith movie Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, the characters Jay and Silent Bob are supposedly the leaders of the Coalition for the Liberation of Intermittent Tree-dwellers, or "CLIT".
  • In South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, Stan Marshgoes in search of "The Clitoris" to ask her for help with Wendy Testaburgerafter Chefmentions the name. Near the end he finds the clitoris, which is a giant pink shining blob. She tells him to be courageous and to be himself.

See also

  • WikiSaurus:clitoris— the WikiSauruslist of synonyms and slang words for the clitoris in many languages
  • Glans penis
  • Clitoromegaly
  • Gräfenberg spot
  • Skene's glands
  • Clitoridectomy
  • Clitoral hypertrophy
  • Image:VulvaDiagram-800.jpg

External links

  • The-Clitoris.com– a very thorough website about everything related to the clitoris Warning - site contains explicit photos
  • Study claims clitoris is larger than thoughtby Althaea Yronwode
  • Pink Parts- "Walk through" of female sexual anatomy by noted sex activist and educator Heather Corinna (illustrations; no explicit photos)


  • The Ciba Collection of Medical Illustrations: Vol.2, Reproductive Systemby Frank H. Netter, M.D. comparing female and male reproductive systems development and anatomy
  • Illustrations from Clinical Anatomy Principlesby Lawrence H. Mathers, Jr. et al. comparing clitoris and penis anatomy
  • Development of the Female Sexual & Reproductive Organs– illustrations comparing clitoris and penis during the early development

Reproductive system
Female: Cervix- Clitoris - Clitoral hood- Fallopian tubes- Bartholin's glands- G-spot- Hymen- Labium- Mammary glands- Ovaries- Skene's glands- Urethra- Uterus- Vagina- Vulva
Male: Bulbourethral glands- Ejaculatory duct- Epididymis- Foreskin- Frenulum- Glans penis- Penis- Prostate- Scrotum- Seminal vesicles- Spermatic cord- Testes- Urethra- Vas deferens

ca:Clítoris cs:Klitoris da:Klitoris de:Klitoris es:Clítoris fr:Clitoris gd:Brillean gl:Clítoris id:Klitoris he:????? lt:Varput? hu:Csikló nl:Clitoris ja:?? no:Klitoris pl:?echtaczka pt:Clítoris ru:?????? sr:???????? sv:Klitoris th:?????????? tr:Klitoris uk:??????

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/Clitoris"

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clitoris Wikipedia article Clitoris.

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