Did you know the clitoris is more than meets the eye? No, really—there is way more to it than you can see. Who knew, right?!
First, throw out every image of peas and beans and little buttons that you’ve ever associated with your clit. That’s not what your clit looks like—well, it’s not what the entire clit looks like. A clit actually contains 18 distinct parts made up of muscle, erectile tissue, and tons of nerves(1). But, similar to an iceberg, the tip is all we see and 90%—90%!!— of the clit is under the surface. And way different than the button idea, it turns out the clitoris actually resembles a wishbone. Go figure. And get this—while there’s no “normal” when it comes to the size of your clitoris, research generally places clitoral length anywhere from 7-13 cm. That’s right! Your clit could be 13 cm long. That’s as tall as a Coca-Cola can (3)!
If you’re wondering where in the world all of that clit, well, fits, it’s inside your body. Aside from the visible tip (the “glans”), the clitoris contains a few other distinctive parts like a pair of “legs” called crura, a pair of “bulbs” called vestibular bulbs, and a “clitoral body” that holds everything together. Yeah, the body is way amazing. The “legs” of the clitoris is where a lot of that length comes from and what gives your clitoris that incredible wishbone shape.
So why is the clit so big? Well, each part of the clit does something different.
Let’s start with the tip.
The hooded “glans” of the clit is covered with 8,000 (YES— 8,000!) nerve endings and is the most sensitive part of the human body. Although it receives the most attention, it’s only the beginning of the clitoris. The parts tucked underneath the surface do some interesting things, too. The “legs” and “bulbs” of your clitoris both contain erectile tissue similar to a penis— YEP, A PENIS. See, erectile tissue is sort of like a sponge (4), so when you’re turned on and extra blood flows towards your bits, the pockets of erectile tissue fill up and cause the crura and bulbs to swell. As they swell, they press against the vaginal walls and create a lil’ extra lubrication.
The various parts of the clitoris may perform different tasks, but they all work toward a common goal and “biological purpose”— your sexual pleasure.
Even cooler? Some research goes so far as to claim that your clit keeps growing as you age, but never ages itself (mystical, right?). This means your clit at age 20 will look and work the same way your clit at age 80 does (1).
And for those of you who are wondering if size matters, we couldn’t find any sufficient evidence that the size of your clit determines the likelihood of your orgasm, so no worries there. In the same way, there’s no concrete evidence to support the idea that certain ethnicities or people with similar genetic makeup will, in turn, have similar clit sizes. There’s no scientific reason your clit looks the way it does or is the size that it is. The game of body parts is like a box of chocolates— you never quite know what you’re going to get.
If you’re wondering why all of this isn’t common knowledge, that’s partially because exploring vulva bearing bodies has been such a taboo topic that resources can be a bit hazy and misleading. It’s taken a while for research to catch up on bodies with vulvas. In fact, it wasn’t until 2016 that French researcher, Odile Fillod, created a 3D model of a clitoris to serve as a “visual aid” to deter the misrepresentations (2).
And although we still have a lot of research to do on the clit and vagina-having bodies in general, hey— at least we scratched the surface!
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Written By: Alex Shea, Momma gaia lover, Sex-Ed advocate, and Author of I Don’t Know Yet