clitWe are all privy to the analogy that women are like cars. The jokes flow, and the comparisons are ample. Headlights are breasts. “Junk in her trunk” describes a shapely bottom. “Dents in her fender” are cellulite. Should I continue? It’s just another modern day tendency to objectify women…but that is another blog post all together. I am using the metaphor to introduce you to what really lies under your hood. I present to you your magical, miraculous, mystical CLITORIS.

Knowledge of the clitoris, “cliteracy”, is radically influenced by culture. Research shows that clitoral ignorance plagues the masses and specific familiarity pales in comparison to other sexual organs. So—let’s work on that.

CLITORISThe clitoris is the female’s version of a penis. The two sex organs are a lot alike actually. The clitoris has a glans, foreskin, a shaft, and erectile tissue that enlarges when aroused. As an embryo, the genital tubercle is undifferentiated until a single gene tells it to develop into either a clitoris or penis. It is the female’s most sensitive erogenous zone and the source of most female sexual pleasure with over 8,000 sensory nerve endings—twice as many as the glans of a penis. BOOM!!!

The visible bead, located near the front seam of the labia minora, is just the tip of the iceburg. Literally. The clitoris, in its entirety is about the size of a flaccid penis (4 inches). It stretches out like a flying squirrel. (You’ll never see a flying squirrel the same way again! You’re welcome.) Clitorises are all different sizes, and they grow as we age. As a matter of fact, after menopause you can expect your clitoris to be twice as big as it was before.

Being a good midwife is a lot about sharing information and helping facts become part of practical life so I have to connect the dots here. Anytime we talk about the clitoris, because it’s only function is sexual pleasure, we are talking about sex. There is cultural misrepresentation that healthy sexual desire and function revolve around how much sex you want or have. Fallacy!!! If you hear nothing else, I want you to hear this:

 

Sexual health is about your holistic well-being in sexuality.

 

clitorisWhat does that mean? It means a constructive and reverent approach to sexuality, as well as the possibility of pleasurable and safe experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence (WHO, 2017). That looks different to each person because sexual health is as unique as the individual. If both people in the relationship are happy with their sex life, it is well, whether that’s once a year or once an hour. Both can be healthy. On the other hand, sexual dysfunction is the lack of pleasurable and safe experiences, whether that’s due to coercion, discrimination, violence, or health issues.

One last piece of clitoral trivia for you…the word clitoris is derived from the Greek word key. Perhaps the Greeks knew something about this car metaphor all those years ago? Not only does the key unlock doors, but it also turns the car on. (See what I did there?) Now you can go check under the hood with some knowledge in your pocket, and let your engines rev.

World Health Organization. (2017). Sexual Health. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/topics/sexual_health/en/

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About the author

Andie Wyrick

A certified nurse midwife and doctorate student has been in the Houston birth community for over a decade. Her experience includes elementary school nursing, hospital L & D, birth center, and home birth. Andie is confident in a woman's ability to grow and birth her baby. She feels a partnership in care is empowering and hopes to foster that relationship with families. She has a tender, lighthearted, and hands off approach to the evidence based care she offers. She has been joyfully dating her husband of 16 years since junior high and has five children. Her passions beyond bellies, birth, and breastfeeding are mission work and reading.