The clitoris is an erectile organ, located at the top and front of the vulva . Although its most sensitive part measures only a few millimeters, it is the most important organ of the female genital apparatus in terms of voluptuous sensations; the importance of the clitoris in conferring sexual pleasure is such that most women can reach orgasm through its manipulation.

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The clitoris is considered by some to be the female correspondent of the male penis , with the difference that – while the latter also performs other functions – the clitoris seems exclusively to give pleasure to the woman.


The sensory innervation of the clitoris is the highest in the human organism; just think that about eight thousand nerve endings flow into the area, about double those of the male penis.

The sensitivity of the clitoris is such that too strong or direct stimulation can produce a sensation of discomfort, if not pain.


The clitoris is located at the top and front of the vulva, where the labia minora meet. It is located just above the opening of the urethra , which in turn is located a few millimeters ahead of the opening of the vagina .

The clitoris has a Y-like shape. It originates with two cone-shaped oblique lateral halves, called the clitoral roots . These roots converge superiorly towards the center of the vulva, giving life to a single, cylindrical structure, called the body of the clitoris. This zone stretches for 2-3 centimeters before bending sharply forward forming the so-called elbow or knee of the clitoris ; from here it goes in the opposite direction, backwards and downwards.

The body of the clitoris ends with a free, swollen, conical end with a blunt top; this is the glans , the most sensitive part of the organ.

The area of ​​the clitoral body that runs from the glans to the elbow is called the clitoral shaft .

The elbow, shaft and glans make up the free parts of the clitoris and are covered with a protective leather sleeve called the clitoral hood or foreskin . A small fold called the preputial cavity usually exists between the glans penis and the foreskin.


Anteriorly, the labia minora split, giving rise to two skin folds on each side. The two lateral folds join ventrally over the body and glans to form the foreskin. The two medial folds, on the other hand, join together to form the frenulum of the clitoris , which joins the glans. In this way, the glans joins the medial part of the labia minora through two small folds starting from the frenulum .

During sexual stimulation, the labia minora open and swell, “uncovering” the clitoris slightly and thus increasing its sensitivity.


Like men, women can also be prone to phimosis problems . This condition occurs when the skin cap (foreskin) that covers the glans has a conformation such as to tightly envelop the organ, even in a state of sexual arousal. Failure to uncover the glans could therefore limit the woman’s sexual pleasure.

However, it should be noted that many women have such a strong clitoral sensitivity that the complete retraction of the foreskin makes the stimulation annoying if not painful.

Size of the Clitoris

There is often confusion regarding the average size of the clitoris. This is because many texts report the dimensions of the entire structure, while in the common imagination only the glans is considered clitoris. The latter – which as we have seen is the part that protrudes between the labia minora, more or less covered by the foreskin – has dimensions similar to those of the eraser of a pencil, but a little smaller. In particular, the average size of the clitoris (understood as the glans) is 0.3 – 0.5cm.

According to data collected by Dr. Robert Latou Dickinson – author of Atlas of Human Sex Anatomy – on a sample of about 100 women:

  • 5% had a glans of the clitoris shorter than 0.3cm;
  • 75% had a glans of the clitoris between 0.3 and 1.5cm in length;
  • 20% had a glans of the clitoris between 0.7 and 1.5cm in length.

There is therefore a wide variability in the female population about the size of the clitoris; the same variability is also recorded for other structural components of the vulva, such as the labia majora and labia minora, which can vary significantly in size and conformation.

Above 1.5 cm, the clitoris is considered to be oversized; in this case, doctors speak of clitoral hypertrophy.


In its entirety, the clitoris measures an average of 60-70mm, distributed as follows:

  • roots: they have a length of 30-35mm
  • body: has a length of 25-30mm
  • glans: as anticipated, it has a length of 0.3-0.7mm

The diameter of the clitoris is on average about 7mm.

Clitoral hypertrophy – Clitoridomegaly

Clitoral hypertrophy – or clitoridomegaly – is a condition in which the clitoris is oversized. This is a typical problem linked to the persistence of too high levels of androgens ; the latter are typical male sex hormones , but are also produced in small quantities by women.

The excess of androgens (responsible for hirsutism – virilization ) can be recorded in case of hypertrichosis , polycystic ovary syndrome or abuse of anabolic steroids . Although a higher level of androgens in women is normally associated with an increase in sexual desire, it should nevertheless be noted that there is no relationship between the size of the clitoris and the effectiveness of its function.


In the human species the clitoris has undergone an involutionary process compared to primates. For example, the female spider monkey has a clitoris that is about 5 centimeters large. For this, as in the case of the spotted hyena, the spider monkey’s clitoris is often mistaken for a penis.

In female elephants, the clitoris is well developed and measures up to 40 centimeters, becoming longer when erect.

Clitoral erection

The clitoris is made up of erectile tissue. At the moment of sexual arousal, a greater quantity of blood flows to the organ, which causes it to increase in size and consistency, making it turgid and elastic.

However, the erect clitoris does not reach the consistency of the erect penis ; this is because, in women, there is no blockage of venous outflow that allows the penis to maintain an erection.

Close to orgasm , the clitoris retracts under the foreskin, only to re-emerge when the sexual stimulation is over.


It is not uncommon to observe in primates the use of objects, such as twigs, to stimulate the clitoris. Female porcupines have also been observed stimulating the clitoris, a practice that is also quite common among dolphins.


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