Amazing Information about the Clitoris

Link and Image from Museum of SexAs a follow-up to the earlier discussion about where the hell the hymen is, here's a link to something truly fascinating that I read via Jane Litte and a few others on Twitter this weekend. The museum of sex has a truly amazing article on the size and shape of the clitoris.

No, it is most certainly not a button. Or a nubbin. There's a lot more to it than that:

The scientific name for the external “little button” or “bulb” is glans.  Not to be confused with glands, glanssimply refers to a small circular mass.  This little structure contains approximately 8,000 sensory nerve fibers; more than anywhere else in the human body and nearly twice the amount found on the head of a penis!  From reading her work, it’s clear that Marie Bonepart mistakenly thought that the clitoris was completely comprised of the glans; and because it is super sensitive and all anyone can see of the organ, her confusion is mirrored by most women today. 

The fact is, though, that most of the clitoris is subterranean, consisting of two corpora cavernosa (corpus cavernosum when referring to the structure as a whole), two crura (crus when referring to the structure as a whole), and the clitoral vestibules or bulbs.

The glans is connected to the body or shaft of the internal clitoris, which is made up of two corpora cavernosa.  When erect, the corpora cavernosa encompass the vagina on either side, as if they were wrapping around it giving it a big hug!

The corpus cavernosum also extends further, bifurcating again to form the two crura.  These two legs extend up to 9cm, pointing toward the thighs when at rest, and stretching back toward the spine when erect. 

The stills from the blog entry match footage I saw on the Discovery channel show “Curiosity,” which featured Drs. Odile Buisson and Pierre Folds, who created the 3D sonography of the clitoris – work that, according to the Museum of Sex blog, they pursued for years without any proper funding. (Seriously, thank you for that, Doctors.)

If you want to search your cable listings, the show is called “Curiosity” and it's from an episode about the female orgasm. I also found it on Amazon for $1.99.

Really, the whole hour is about the female orgasm, why it happens, what happens when it happens, and what possibly makes it happen. If you can watch it, it's worth the hour – I learned an amazing amount. The segment that examines the clitoris (sorry) specifically begins at about 1/4 of the way into the show.

So, now that we've talked clitoris and learned so much, think we'll see sex scenes where the heroine feels the lasso and the wishbone of her clitoris engorging? As much as I love to learn factual information about the human body, I'm not sure if I'm ready for the euphemisms for this one. What do you think the best euphemism would be? 


General Bitching...

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  1. Thedaisyharris says:

    I don’t know whether she knows all this about the clitoris, but hands-down the best descriptions of an engorged and aroused hoo-hahs are written by Charlotte Stein. There are no lassos, per se… but certainly vivid and squirm-inducing paragraphs about “fullness”.

    Never seen a button or nubbin in her work. Her va-jay-jays are the full package.

    No..not that kind of “package”. The girl kind…

  2. Lena says:

    I hate when writers use ‘nubbin’ – I immediately imagine Chandler’s third nipple in place of the clitoris.

  3. Lena – Same here!  Comes from being a die-hard Friends fan, I suppose, haha.

  4. Callie Hutton says:

    Great information. I’m gonna head to Amazon and get that copy of the show.

  5. Philiawind says:

    For the record, author MelodiousMsM did not use the word nubbin in the Museum of Sex’s artcle – lol!  The stills are from Curiosity.  You can also find the show in segments on youtube for free. 
    The “lassos”, as described by Thedaisyharris are actually the crura – and of course most people such as Ms. Stein do not include them in their works of erotic fiction and so forth because their discovery wasn’t until the first sonogram of an erect clitoris was done in 2010 by Folds and Buisson.  There is a huge difference between actual science and elaborate exquisite descriptions.  Use both for the greatest benefits!

  6. Liz says:

    @Lena- I just spit coffee all over my computer as I was dying laughing. Now how exactly do I explain what I was reading when I bring it into the Apple store to get it cleaned?

  7. What’s a clitoris? ; )

    Seriously, I know how it works and stuff. How do you *pronounce* it?

  8. OK, delurking for shameless site-pimpage here, but I have a link to recommend! The site I edit has an interactive illustration of male & female genital anatomy, plus various illustrations of embryonic development of the male and female reproductive systems, changes at puberty, and disorders of sex development. (No hymen, alas – I’ll have to ask the artist why she left that detail out.) The Bitchery may, she said hopefully, find it interesting.

    We do get a LOT of hits for the search term “clitoris anatomy”. Clearly people are curious.

  9. I read an article a few years ago (must have been about the researchers mentioned above) saying that science was “going in search of the clitoris”. At the time, they talked about it being like an iceberg, the bulk of it submerged in the body. Bring on the Titantic jokes! I guess they found it. This is kind of a side tangent, but I was doing some research the other day on some completely other topic and Google threw up a random site called “Beautiful Cervix” in the results. Well, I had to go look, didn’t I? It’s fascinating – a midwife student took photos of the cervix at various stages of arousal, disease, pregnancy, and different stages of cycle. Until I’d seen these, I had no idea what the cervix even looked like, and next time I have to front up for my annual pap smear, I will feel oh so informed. As I said, fascinating, but be warned that some of the images are, um,…shall we say… fluid-y.…

  10. Ashlyn Macnamara says:

    And just to make this even more awesome, “Buisson” means bush in French. Yeah.

  11. KimD says:

    Okay, had to write this from home computer. Article makes sense of some strange comments I’ve received. Sorry, here’s a TMI moment: I’ve been told that at my special moment, if I was standing, the dude could dangle between my legs with his arms out and smile on his face. So here’s my contributions:

    Clit Grip
    Femme Fisting
    Love pressure cuff
    “grabbing his love with her magic grip”

    Can’t believe I had to wait to say this…and giggling the whole way home! Thx!

  12. Thank you Smart Bitches! I need to forward this to a few people 😉

  13. Also, the woman in this video “Curiosity” is a phenom, b/c I’m fairly certain that a claustrophobic tube with a mask and strange device on my head while a bunch of people are measuring my bodily functions doesn’t top my list of fantasies that get me in the mood.

  14. Rei says:

    “Clenching around him in a sensual Force Choke”?

    Also, the idea of a man dangling between a lady’s legs with his arms out and a big dorky grin is hilarious.



  15. TamB says:

    @ Sarah Mayberry

    Thanks for the link.  Incredibly informative.

  16. Thank you!  Very educational!

  17. cecilia says:

    I got stuck on Pierre “Folds” – a favourite romance euphemism. Do you think those names are legit?

  18. Elise Logan says:

    I was linked to this article by another site and found it absolutely fascinating. One of the commenters there had me thinking about the individualism of such a complicated organ.

    So here’s what I’m wondering – the clitoris goes from around the front, splits, surrounds the vaginal canal, splits again to do the wishbone thing, right? I’m wondering how g-spot is connected to all this. And some of the other “spots” women may or may not have.

    Good heavens we’re complicated creatures.

  19. KarenF says:

    “She tied her tension tourniquet tight around his taut teasing tree”?

  20. Jim L says:

    This immediately made me think of SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT when the kids are online:

    Stan: Wait, before we put a message out, do a search on the word clitoris.
    Kyle: Hmm OK Found: 8,000,000 pages found with the word clitoris.

    As for terms, I’d go more with phrases (“the center of her pleasure,” “the focus of sensation”) rather than a single word.  It seems like one word wouldn’t quite do it.

  21. The Other Susan says:

    Heck Liz, just tell them you were looking at porn.  Or slash fanfiction.  They work in a computer store so they’ve heard this before.  It’s like the staff in an ER – they’ve been there, done that, and stitched it up.

  22. This was one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever read on the internet. Thank you again Smart Bitches.

  23. snarkhunter says:

    …Are we sure that the scientists were using their real names? Sex scientists Buisson and Folds? It’s almost too perfect to be believed. 😀

  24. snarkhunter says:

    I was once teaching a poem that had a fairly coded—but obvious, if you know what to look for—image of a clitoris in it. The only person brave enough to finally choke out the word was a young man. No joke, I saw two women in the back turn to each other, and one said, “What is that?” I almost wept.

  25. PG says:

    Precious pincers of passion?  So much more complex and delicate than his pounding piledriver of pulchritude… Gives new meaning to the term tool…or toolbox, for that matter.  Maybe it should be a duffle instead of a box, the kind with draw strings.

  26. educational, and I’ve just spent five minutes giggling inappropriately about Nubbins and Third Nipples

  27. mfred says:

    The non-fiction book Bonk devotes a fair amount of time to female sex research and why it is often completely and totally unfunded.  Bonk is also funny, witty, and not at all as dry as my first sentence would make you believe.

  28. Jenny Lyn says:

    I could’ve done without the words “subterranean” and “cavernosa” in that article. I mean I get it but…it made me think of spelunking and guys with those lights strapped to their foreheads saying “I’m going in!”

    And ditto on nubbin’. Also I need to reread some of my Charlotte Stein.

  29. Donna says:

    I guess you didn’t do high school in the 70’s. We were subjected to movies – in health class, child development, marriage and family living, and biology – the graphic kind you would see in a birthing class. The one that is, of course, stuck in my head all these years later is the visiting the gynecologist movie wherein the perky patient says “You mean I can see my cervix?” And the perky gynecologist demonstrates the mirror aided contortion necessary. My question at the time was: How come we never got one of these in depth examinations of male genitalia? Where was the “You mean I can examine my own prostate?” movie?

  30. Jane says:

    I guess it would be much harder to be perky when saying “You mean I can see my own prostate?”

    Also, you’d need more mirrors.

  31. Flo_over says:

    See I watch things like Curiosity and find them fascinating… but then I go have some happy fun time with the better half and in the middle of the moment I suddenly think “I wonder if my corpus cavernosum is swelling… what does it look like?  Could I let someone take pics of me while in the mood?  Paper hospital gowns are really uncomfortable.  Huh, is it time for my annual GYNOB visit?”

    By this time the husband has given up, and I’m terribly worried I’m behind on doctor’s appointments.  So yes, knowledge is good, but God help you if you have an easily distracted brain like mine.

  32. Marguerite Kaye says:

    Don’t know what this says about me, but ‘nubbin’ makes me think of Noggin the Nog!

  33. Marguerite Kaye says:

    It all sounds so horrendously complicated, maybe we should forgive those poor men who just don’t seem able to find their way around? Or maybe we should just point them at this post! I’m not sure I’d ever use any of this, but it gave me a lot more info than I ever thought I’d need. Thank you. I think.

  34. BrendaWolf says:

    Wonderful. All this abundance of information on female orgasm and the cliroris is great. I myself also look to “hands-on” female orgasm researchers at Their video “The Technique of peaking and extended orgasm” shows a woman being brought and maintained in orgasm for over 20 minutes. Mind blowing.

  35. Donna says:


  36. Wendy Cheairs says:

    This is fantastic- I am loving this New Year posts about the female body. I am ready to share with several people. Thanks again for sharing.

  37. I like the idea of guys going in with lights strapped to their heads.

  38. Thank you for the high grade sonogram.  I always wondered, “Why?’ about a couple of things. What a relief.

  39. Full disclosure: I used to be a sex blogger.  Not a particularly successful one, but I did some decent work I think.  So the biological aspects of romance novels have always been on of my personal pet peeves.  When they’re done right, it’s very good.  When they’re done wrong, it knocks me right out of the book.  Can we have more heroines feeling a fluttering in her lasso than in her womb, please?

  40. snarkhunter says:

    But if you’re reading a historical, for instance, the knowledge literally wouldn’t be there. The sensations would feel like they were starting in the womb, especially for women who might honestly have been unaware of the existence of anything other than their uteruses and vaginas. It’s one thing to have the guy pounding away at a woman’s cervix (::shudder::), and another to have to deal with the constraints of historical knowledge.

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