ArticlePDF Available

Clitoral anatomy in nulliparous, healthy, premenopausal volunteers using unenhanced magnetic resonance imaging


Abstract and Figures

We determined the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) characteristics of normal clitoral anatomy. A series of MRI studies of 10 healthy, nulliparous volunteers with no prior surgery and normal pelvic examination was studied and the key characteristics of clitoral anatomy were determined. A range of different magnetic resonance sequences was used without any contrast agent. The axial plane best revealed the clitoral body and its proximal continuation as the paired crura. The glans was seen more caudal than the body of the clitoris. The bulbs of the clitoris had the same signal as the rest of the clitoris in the axial plane and they related consistently to the other erectile structures. The bulbs, body and crura formed an erectile tissue cluster, namely the clitoris. In turn, the clitoris partially surrounded the urethra and vagina, forming a consistently observed tissue complex. Midline sagittal section revealed the shape of the body, although in this plane the rest of the clitoris was poorly displayed. The coronal plane revealed the relationship between the clitoral body and labia. The axial section cephalad to the clitoral body best revealed the vascular component of the neurovascular bundle to the clitoris. The fat saturation sequence particularly highlighted clitoral anatomy in healthy, premenopausal, nulliparous women. Normal clitoral anatomy has been clearly demonstrated using noncontrast pelvic MRI.
Content may be subject to copyright.
From the Department of Surgery, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia, and Department
of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan (JOLD), Ann Arbor, Michigan
Purpose—We determined the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) characteristics of normal clitoral
Materials and Methods—A series of MRI studies of 10 healthy, nulliparous volunteers with no
prior surgery and normal pelvic examination was studied and the key characteristics of clitoral
anatomy were determined. A range of different magnetic resonance sequences was used without any
contrast agent.
Results—The axial plane best revealed the clitoral body and its proximal continuation as the paired
crura. The glans was seen more caudal than the body of the clitoris. The bulbs of the clitoris had the
same signal as the rest of the clitoris in the axial plane and they related consistently to the other
erectile structures. The bulbs, body and crura formed an erectile tissue cluster, namely the clitoris.
In turn, the clitoris partially surrounded the urethra and vagina, forming a consistently observed tissue
complex. Midline sagittal section revealed the shape of the body, although in this plane the rest of
the clitoris was poorly displayed. The coronal plane revealed the relationship between the clitoral
body and labia. The axial section cephalad to the clitoral body best revealed the vascular component
of the neurovascular bundle to the clitoris. The fat saturation sequence particularly highlighted clitoral
anatomy in healthy, premenopausal, nulliparous women.
Conclusions—Normal clitoral anatomy has been clearly demonstrated using noncontrast pelvic
clitoris; magnetic resonance imaging; anatomy; premenopause; parity
Although there has been some recent progress, advances in understanding male sexual function
and dysfunction have not been paralleled by similar advances in female sexual function, even
in basic anatomy and physiology. A problem facing researchers in female sexuality is the fact
that the clitoris is largely an internal structure relative to the external visibility of the penis.
Clitoral anatomy based on cadaveric studies have been limited by the lack of access to younger
* Correspondence: Suite 12, Private Medical Centre, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Victoria 3050, Australia (telephone: +61–
3-9347 9911; FAX: +61–3-9347 5960; e-mail: (
Financial interest and/or other relationship with Continence Control, Systems International, Lilly, and Johnson and Johnson.
Study received institutional review board approval.
Supported by the Bruce Pearson Fellowship of the Urological Foundation of Australia and National Institute of Health Grants DK51405
and HD 38665.
NIH Public Access
Author Manuscript
J Urol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2005 November 14.
Published in final edited form as:
J Urol. 2005 June ; 173(6): 2060–2063.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
specimens with most being from elderly, postmenopausal women in whom erectile structures
were distorted by the absence of blood flow and by the embalming process.
Suh et al described detailed imagery of female genital anatomy using magnetic resonance
imaging (MRI) with the blood pool contrast medium MS-325.1 Visualization was poor or
absent on T1-weighted images prior to contrast medium use. Two other reports from the same
center indicated that this is useful for evaluating female sexual arousal.2, 3 However, there is
no comment on MRI obtained by the fat saturation technique and planes other than the axial
plane are not provided. Prior studies also involved women in whom parity status was unknown.
We present findings in a series of healthy, premenopausal, nulliparous volunteers and describe
clitoral anatomy as seen in each plane using unenhanced MRI. Dissection studies revealed
significant age related atrophy, and so we expected that clitoral tissues of premenopausal
women would be more easily distinguished with MRI than would tissues from an unselected
group of women.
An institutional review board approved MRI study was commenced at the University of
Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1994. This prospective study involved the MRI evaluation of 240
patients, specifically to evaluate the effects of a first birth. Among these women were a
consecutive series of 10 healthy, nulliparous, premenopausal volunteers with no prior surgery
and no abnormality on pelvic examination. They underwent several MRI sequences to test
which of them best showed the pelvic floor structures. These scans form the basis of this study.
Scanning techniques included T2-weighted fast spin-echo (FSE), T1-weighted spin-echo and
proton density FSE with or without fat saturation. A 1.5 Tesla magnet machine was used to
create the images. For most scans 0.4 cm section thickness with a 1.0 cm space between sections
and a matrix size of 256 × 256 were used. Each scan was first examined to determine the
features present in each plane (axial, coronal and sagittal) with each type of scanning. In a few
series 1.0 cm sections were used and the sections omitted anatomical detail. For the purpose
of clarifying clitoral anatomy only images using 0.4 cm section thickness are shown. All scans
were then reexamined to determine the consistency with each of the features identified. The
consistent findings are detailed. Structure identification was based on our previous published
cadaver studies.4
Prior to analysis all images were converted into digital files masking identifying features (name
and date of birth) of the individual. No other modification of the images was made.
Clitoral anatomy was shown most clearly in the axial plane. The sagittal and coronal planes
provided further details and they were complementary. Ultimately all components of the
clitoris, crura, corpora, bulbs, glans and its neurovascular bundle could be clearly identified
on MRI after the combination of the 3 planes was used. Each plane provided a different
representation of the structure.
Figure 1, A shows a typical axial proton density scan without fat saturation. The clitoris is
ventral to the urethra and vagina. Its body projects into the fat of the mons pubis. It is composed
of 5 components, namely the paired corpora united in the midline and separated only by a
fibrous septum, the bilateral (vestibular) bulbs and the single glans. The glans is a more caudal
structure and, therefore, it was seen in more caudal sections (fig. 1, B and C). The corpora
diverge and follow the pubic rami on each side, where they are called the crura. The clitoris is
distinct from the urethra and vagina. In figure 1, A the target-like appearance of the urethra is
particularly distinct with the urethral wall having a darker gray color than the surrounding
J Urol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2005 November 14.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
clitoris. The bulbs flank the urethra and vagina laterally. This axial section lies directly caudal
to the symphysis pubis. The fat in this sequence is the whitest structure, followed by the
cavernous tissue of the clitoris, the urethral lumen, the vaginal wall, the urethral wall and finally
muscle in decreasing order of intensity. Dorsally the clitoris, urethra and vagina are related to
the ischiorectal fat and in the midline they are related to the anal canal. The body of the clitoris
is an angled structure that projects inferiorly into the mons pubis fat with its most caudal part
continuous with the glans clitoris. Figure 1, B shows an axial section 1.0 cm caudal to the figure
1, A section. Because of the shape of the clitoris, the glans is typically seen in a more caudal
axial section than the rest of the clitoris. In this woman the glans is seen in 2 sections (fig. 1,
B and C). In the more caudal sections the urethra and vagina are not distinct and the caudal
limit of the bulbs is just visible lateral to the urethra. The glans is the most distinct clitoral
structure in these sections. In some women the urethral meatus was also distinct in the most
caudal section.
The cavernous or erectile tissue was highlighted using a fat saturation technique. In this type
of scan the fat appeared black and the cavernous structures of the clitoris were bright white
(fig. 2). The urethral wall and vagina were also highlighted with this technique, although to a
lesser extent than cavernous tissue. Other surrounding tissues, muscle and bone appeared as
dark structures, increasing the contrast with the centrally placed cavernous structures. In axial
section the clitoris formed a triangular complex with the urethra and vagina, namely the
clitorourethrovaginal complex.
In figure 3, A the structures best seen are the vessels of the neurovascular bundles arising from
the pelvic side wall, where the terminal component of the pudendal neurovascular bundle
bifurcates into perineal and clitoral divisions to supply the clitorourethrovaginal complex. The
perineal division is also best seen in figure 3, A, while the clitoral division, which ascends along
the inferior pubic ramus adjacent to the crura, is best seen in figure 3, B. The neurovascular
bundle is cranial to the clitoral body. The autonomic cavernous neurovascular supply to the
clitoris is not visible on these MRI studies. The large clitoral neurovascular bundles on either
side ascend along the ischiopubic ramus to the under surface of the pubic symphysis in the
midline, from which they run along the cephalad surface of the clitoral body toward the glans.
These bundles, which were easily seen using dissection techniques, were not large enough to
be visible consistently on MRI, although fat saturation is known to highlight the vascular
Sagittal scans demonstrated the angled clitoral body and glans projecting into the mons on the
under surface of the symphysis pubis (fig. 4). The bulbs and crura were also visible in more
lateral sections, although not well displayed. Coronal sections revealed the 2 corpora forming
the body and ending as the glans clitoris (fig. 5). The body was seen attached to the under
surface of the symphysis pubis. The labia minora and majora were well seen in this coronal
section. The glans is visible extending more dorsal toward the anus because of its tendency to
curve dorsal and caudal.
Bulbar anatomy is best displayed in axial views and it was seen to a limited extent in sagittal
and coronal views in all women. The bulbs met ventral to the urethra. Dissection studies have
shown that they are not continuous across the midline.4 They descend on either side of the
urethra and flank the lateral aspect of the distal vaginal wall bilaterally.4 The bulbs have a more
consistent relationship with the clitoris and urethra than with the vestibule. Thus, in this study
the bulbs are named the bulbs of the clitoris according to their consistent relationship to the
J Urol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2005 November 14.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
MRI studies of the clitoris complement studies previously performed in cadavers4 and reveal
the anatomy in healthy, premenopausal nullipara. No major differences were apparent between
findings in the cadavers and on MRI, although in cadavers the structures appeared to be
atrophic, as would be expected because of the advanced age of most specimens and other
Historical, social and scientific factors appear to be responsible for the poor presentation of
clitoral anatomy even in current textbooks. Active deletion of the clitoris as a labeled structure
from an early version of Gray’s Anatomy compared with subsequent versions indicates the
influence of social factors over science.5 The medical profession has also had a major influence
on female sexuality throughout history, particularly in the 19th century. The widespread
practice in Western medicine of clitoridectomy for indications as diverse as epilepsy, hysteria
and catalepsy is relatively recent.6 In addition to such factors, anatomists have compounded
the poor display of clitoral anatomy by revealing it only in 1 plane. While the sagittal plane
may suit the display of an essentially linear structure such as the penis, the clitoris is not well
displayed in this plane. The axial plane is the most useful. As a multiplanar modality, MRI
reveals each component of the clitoris and complements the information obtained at dissection.
This MRI study of the clitoris revealed each clitoral component in detail. The advantages of
MRI over dissection based study are that it reveals anatomy in the living subject and it has the
ability to enhance a given tissue because of its relative response to magnetic resonance. The
MRI technique of fat saturation enhances cavernous tissue, of which the clitoris is composed.
Fat saturation gives each clitoral structure a white appearance juxtaposed to all related
structures, which are a shade of gray. Even the urethra and vagina, which are vascular
structures, appear relatively gray by comparison to the clitoris. This indicates the highly
vascular nature of the clitoris even in the nonaroused state.
Recent research has shown that MRI is capable of demonstrating vascular enhancement that
may correlate with female sexual arousal, thereby, showing great promise for sexual function
studies.1–3 The new, gadolinium based, blood pool contrast agent MS-325 administered
intravenously has been found to provide an excellent depiction of the female genitalia in
premenopausal and postmenopausal women.1 The same agent has been shown to be useful in
studying changes in female genitalia that occur with sexual arousal. The exact superiority of
this contrast enhanced, T1-weighted study over the unenhanced fat saturation technique is not
clear. MRI with phased array pelvic and endorectal coils has been shown to be an excellent
tool for studying the female urethra and periurethral diseases.7
Objective imaging techniques such as MRI and even photography help overcome the
inaccuracies associated with diagrams. The structures least well described in anatomical
textbooks to date are the bulbs. Typically their relationship to the clitoris and urethra is not
acknowledged or in fact said not to exist.8 When depicted, the bulbs are usually drawn as if
they pass alongside the vaginal introitus, forming the core of the labia. MRI clearly shows the
extensive relationship between the urethra and bulbs, and also reveals how these structures are
intimately related to the crura and corpora forming the root of the clitoris, an anatomical
structure mentioned in some recent anatomical textbooks.9 The view of the bulbs afforded by
MRI shows even more clearly than with dissection that the bulbs on either side continue anterior
to the urethra and meet together in the midline without merging. The exact role of the bulbs in
urethral support and sexual function is unclear. Recent study has suggested they have a
significant role in urethral continence.10 The concept of the clitorourethrovaginal complex is
not new, having been called by French investigators after ultrasound based studies the
“ensemble uretro clitoridovulvaire.”11
J Urol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2005 November 14.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
Previous studies have used confusing terminology or techniques that have failed clearly to
demonstrate clitoral anatomy. Recently MRI of couples copulating have been shown in sagittal
section,12 the plane which in these studies least clearly displays the clitoris. In the same study
the male subject only was administered sildenafil, relatively enhancing the signal intensity of
the penis and further obscuring the clitoris. In another MRI study in which a woman with true
hermaphroditism was depicted13 the term corpus spongiosum was used in reference to the
bulbs. In this study the clitoris was noted to be barely visible, part of the difficulty again being
the choice of plane, ie sagittal rather than axial, the latter being the plane of preference for
clitoral anatomy.
We observed that normal clitoral anatomy in healthy volunteers can be well displayed by MRI
using fat saturation techniques without using any contrast agent. The bright erectile tissue of
the clitoris surrounds the urethrovaginal complex anterolaterally. The bulbs are recognized as
parts of the clitoris and they should be preferably called bulbs of clitoris rather than vestibular
bulbs. Axial views are more useful for depicting most of the clitoris, and the sagittal and coronal
planes are complementary. This study complements cadaveric studies of clitoral anatomy and
provides further insights into the role and scope of MRI for demonstrating normal anatomy.
Professor John Hutson, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne supervised the dissection based
female urogenital anatomy project.
1. Suh DD, Yang CC, Cao Y, Garland PA, Maravilla KR. Magnetic resonance imaging anatomy of the
female genitalia in premenopausal and postmenopausal women. J Urol 2003;170:138. [PubMed:
2. Maravilla KR, Cao Y, Heiman JR, Garland PA, Peterson BT, Carter WO, et al. Serial MR imaging
with MS-325 for evaluating female sexual arousal response: determination of intrasubject
reproducibility. J Magn Reson Imaging 2003;18:216. [PubMed: 12884335]
3. Deliganis AV, Maravilla KR, Heiman JR, Carter WO, Garland PA, Peterson BT, et al. Female genitalia:
dynamic MR imaging with use of MS-325: initial experiences evaluating female sexual response.
Radiology 2002;225:791. [PubMed: 12461263]
4. O’Connell HE, Hutson JM, Anderson CR, Plenter RJ. Anatomical relationship between urethra and
clitoris. J Urol 1998;159:1892. [PubMed: 9598482]
5. Moore LJ, Clarke AE. Clitoral conventions and transgressions: graphic representations in anatomy
texts, c1900–1991. Feminist Studies 1995;21:255.
6. Sheehan E. Victorian clitoridectomy: Isaac Baker Brown and his harmless operative procedure. Med
Anthropol Newsl 1981;12:9. [PubMed: 12263443]
7. Siegelman ES, Banner MP, Ramchandani P, Schnall MD. Multicoil MR imaging of symptomatic
female urethral and periurethral disease. Radiographics 1997;17:349. [PubMed: 9084077]
8. Bannister LH, Dyson M. Reproductive organs of the female. Vagina; female sexual organs. In: Gray’s
Anatomy, 38th ed. Edited by P. L. Williams, L. H. Bannister, M. M. Berry, P. Collins, M. Dyson, J.
E. Durrek et al. New York: Churchill Livingstone, sect. 14, pp. 1875–1877, 1995
9. Snell RS. The perineum. In: Clinical Anatomy for Medical Students, 5th ed. Boston: Little, Brown and
Co., chapt. 8, pp. 347–379, 1955
10. Baggish MS, Steele AC, Karram MM. The relationship of the vestibular bulb and corpora cavernosa
to the female urethra: a microanatomic study. Part 2 J Gynecol Surg 1999;15:171.
11. Lenck LC, Vanneuville G, Monnet JP, Harmand Y. Sphincter urétral (point G). Corrélations
anatomocliniques. Rev Fr Gynec Obst 1992;87:65. [PubMed: 1570456]
12. Schultz WW, van Andel P, Sabelis I, Mooyaart E. Magnetic resonance imaging of male and female
genitals during coitus and female sexual arousal. Br Med J 1999;319:1596. [PubMed: 10600954]
J Urol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2005 November 14.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
13. Hricak H, Chang YC, Thurnher S. Vagina: Evaluation with MRI imaging. Part I Normal anatomy
and congenital anomalies. Radiology 1988;169:169. [PubMed: 3420255]
Each MRI study is accompanied by a diagram to highlight the clitoris: the anatomy of its
components, neurovascular supply and the related structures, the urethra and vagina.
J Urol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2005 November 14.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
Fig. 1.
A, clitoris and its components, including bulbs, crura and corpora, are well demonstrated in
axial plane. These structures lie ventral and lateral to urethra and vagina as cluster or complex.
MRI specifications for this scan were FSE, TR:4000, TE:15/Ef, EC:1/1 16kHz, FOV: 16x16,
4.0thk/1.0sp, 30/04:16, 256x256/2 NEX, FCs/NP. B and C, next 2 sections caudal to section
A in same volunteer. B, clitoral glans ventral to remainder of clitoris. Its midline septum and
prepuce are evident. C, most caudal section reveals glans and caudal limit of urethra (urethral
meatus), clitoral bulbs and vagina (introitus). In this perineal section clitoral body and crura
are not present and urethral meatus and vaginal introitus are not distinct. MRI specifications
were FSE, TR:4000, TE:15/Ef, EC:1/1 16kHz, FOV:16x16, 4.0thk/1.0sp, 30/04:16, 256x256/2
J Urol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2005 November 14.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
Fig. 2.
Using fat saturation highlighted cavernous tissue of clitoris surrounding urethra and vagina,
while other structures appeared gray or black. Triangular clitorourethrovaginal complex was
clearly seen using this sequence. MRI specifications were FSEIR, TR:4083, TE:22/Ef, EC:1/1
31.2kHz, TI:165, FOV20x20, 6.0thk/1.5sp, 15/06: 32, 256x192/4 NEX, NP/VB/SQ/SPF.
J Urol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2005 November 14.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
Fig. 3.
A, this axial section cephalad to image shown in figures 1 and 2 reveals divisions of pudendal
neurovascular bundle (clitoral and perineal neurovascular bundles) supplying complex.
Vascular structures of bundle and cavernous tissue are highlighted by fat saturation. Nerves
are not shown by MRI but they are known from dissections to accompany vessels. B, another
fat saturated section cephalad to clitoris highlights clitoral veins draining into pudendal
neurovascular bundle attaching to pelvic side wall.
J Urol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2005 November 14.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
Fig. 4.
This midline sagittal section highlights almost boomerang-like appearance of clitoral body,
crura and glans. MRI specifications were FSE, TR:4000, TE:15/Ef, EC:1/1 16kHz, FOV:
20x20, 4.0thk/1.0sp, 30/04:16, 256x256/2 NEX, FCf/NP.
J Urol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2005 November 14.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
Fig. 5.
Coronal section reveals paired clitoral corpora comprising clitoral body, located caudal to pubic
symphysis. Caudal limit of body is glans. Relationship between glans and labia is seen. MRI
specifications were FSE, TR:4000, TE:15/Ef, EC:1/1 16kHz, FOV:16x16, 4.0thk/1.0sp,
30/04:16, 256x256/2 NEX, FCf/NP.
J Urol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2005 November 14.
NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript
... To date, clitoris research has primarily focused on qualitative descriptions of the anatomy using cadaveric dissections that are limited by post-mortem changes. While magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) [14][15][16] studies capture in vivo conditions, to date, these have been constrained to manual or 2D measurements with varying definitions, limited reproducibility, and little consensus on numerical findings [7-9, 13, 17, 18]. As a result, clitoral anatomy remains poorly characterized. ...
... There was also less variability in most of the computed clitoral morphometrics, as shown by their narrower ranges. Differences in the magnitude and variability of the in vivo vs. cadaveric clitoral dimension measures could be attributed to the following: (1) resolution, slice thickness, and choice of plane of the MRI scans, which can affect the ability to delineate clitoral structures, particularly between (a) the glans and body, (b) body and crura, and (c) crura and ischiocavernosus muscles that insert into each crus [14,16,20]; (2) postmortem edema (swelling) of the clitoral tissues in the unembalmed specimens; (3) morphologic differences in intact vs. dissected clitoral anatomy related to its attachment to its connective tissue and muscular supports; (4) the inherent wider anatomic variation of the cadaver study cohort due to the older, broader age range and (inferred) menopausal and parity status of the sample population [7,17,18,21]. ...
Full-text available
Introduction and hypothesis: We present a 3D computational approach for automated clitoral measurements. We hypothesized that computationally derived measurements would be comparable and less variable than reported manual measures. Methods: In this retrospective study, MRIs of 22 nulliparous women age 20-49 years with normal vaginal and clitoral anatomy were collected. Manual segmentations were performed to reconstruct 3D models of the whole clitoris (glans, body, crura, and bulbs) and vagina. The length, width, and volume of the clitoral structures and the distance between the vagina and clitoral structures were calculated. Computed clitoral morphometrics (length, width) were compared to median [range] values from a previously published cadaver study (N = 22) using the median test and Moses extreme reaction test. Calculated distances were compared to mean (± SD) reported by a 2D MRI study (N = 20) using independent t-test and Levene's test. Results: Overall, computed clitoral morphometrics were similar to manual cadaver measurements, where the majority of length and width measures had ~1-2 mm difference and had less variability (smaller range). All calculated distances were significantly smaller and had smaller SDs than manual 2D MRI values, with two-fold differences in the means and SDs. Large variation was observed in clitoral volumetric measures in our cohort. Conclusions: The proposed 3D computational method improves the standardization and consistency of clitoral measurements compared to traditional manual approaches. The use of this approach in radiographic studies will give better insight into how clitoral anatomy relates to sexual function and how both are impacted by gynecologic surgery, where outcomes can assist treatment planning.
... Momo exhibited a chandelier made of anatomically correct, 3D-printed clitorises. The clitoris' actual shape had just recently been 'discovered' in the medical scientific context (O'Connell and Ol DeLancey, 2005: 2060-2063. Momo also built a large wooden box, with fabric curtains on one side and a soft vulva on the inside (see Figure 1). ...
Makerspaces and hacklabs are believed to encourage a positive attitude towards gaining computer skills. Within these communities for peer production, citizens can apply cutting-edge technologies in DIY projects. In recent decades, mushrooming makerspaces and hacklabs were embraced by the tech industry and governments alike. Feminist makerspaces and hacklabs, however, as they are centred around a queer feminist agenda, have raised eyebrows. In order to foster diversity in tech development, they create safer spaces for self-expression. Here, feminist lay(wo)men* (To emphasise that the category ‘Woman’ is constructed and that more people than only those who identify as women are being included, one uses the sign * after the term ‘women’ ), makers, designers, artists and tinkerers experiment with open-source hardware and software. Art and design projects emerging from feminist hacklabs focus on issues of representation and democratic participation in digital media, as well as on ways of reclaiming one’s own body. This article tries to unpack how, after an exhibition on sexual health norms, a feminist hacklab was attacked by local right-wing and conservative politicians. The attack resulted in the defunding of the feminist hacklab. But it also started a transformation process within the collective, as members became aware of critical interferences of diffracting marginalisations. The crisis triggered a discussion on how each member was threatened to very different degrees; for example, there was more at stake for members depending on their legal status in the country. The right-wing and conservative campaign against the feminist hacklab damaged the initiative, but at the same time it pushed the collective to generate increased vehemence and resilience.
... The erectile tissue in all specimens has an elongated crurae clitoridis merging under the clitoral body to form a single 'S' shaped structure in the adult and juvenile and a single bend in the calf ( Figure S1A,B). The erectile tissue of the clitoral corpus cavernosum is similarly shaped in humans without the 'S' shaped bend 4 . The bend suggests extensibility of the tissue upon erection. ...
In species that copulate during non-conceptive periods, such as humans and bonobos, sexual intercourse is known to be pleasurable for females. Dolphins also copulate throughout the year, largely to establish and maintain social bonds¹ • Mann J. Establishing trust: Socio-sexual behaviour and the development of male–male bonds among Indian Ocean bottlenose Sommer V. Vasey P.L. Homosexual Behaviour in Animals. Cambridge University Press, 2006: 107-130 • Google Scholar . In dolphins, the clitoris is positioned in the anterior aspect of the vaginal entrance² • Meek A. The reproductive organs of cetacea.J. Anat. 1918; 52: 186-210 • PubMed • Google Scholar , where physical contact and stimulation during copulation is likely. Clitoral stimulation seems to be important during female–female sexual interactions in common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), which rub each other’s clitorises using snouts, flippers, or flukes³ • Bagemihl B. Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity. Macmillan, 1999 • Google Scholar . Determining a sexual pleasure response in animals not amenable to neurobehavioral examination is difficult, but investigation of the clitoris may elucidate evidence of functionality. In this study, we assessed macro- and micromorphological features of the clitoris in common bottlenose dolphins to examine functional features, including erectile bodies with lacunae, extensible collagen and/or elastin fibers, and the presence and location of sensory nerves. Our observations suggest the clitoris of dolphins has well-developed erectile spaces, is highly sensitive to tactile stimulation, and is likely functional. Video abstract Loading ... (mp4, 48.76 MB) Download video
Background: Although recent studies have enhanced our understanding of the anatomy of the clitoris and its somatic innervation, less emphasis has been placed on the anatomic relationships of the clitoris to its surrounding structures. Objective: This study aimed to further characterize the gross and histologic relationships of the clitoris, vestibular bulbs, and urethra. Study design: Detailed dissections were performed in 30 unembalmed female cadavers. In 23 specimens, gross dissections were performed, and relationships of the clitoris, vestibular bulbs, and urethra were annotated. Histologic evaluation was performed in 7 specimens, in which tissues were harvested within 24 hours from death. Descriptive statistics were used for data analyses. Results: The clitoral body consisted of 2 components, the proximal body and the distal body. The distal body was oriented ≤90° from the proximal body, forming an outer and inner angle at the inflection point. A "septumlike" arrangement of fibroconnective and vascular tissues was noted between the inner angle of the clitoral body and the urethra. Neurovascular bundles coursed laterally along the clitoral body and the surfaces of the crura and vestibular bulbs. The vestibular bulbs approached each other over the ventral surface of the urethra, at the commissure of the vestibular bulbs. Each bulb was separated by fibrous tissue and did not merge along the midline. The vestibular bulbs approximated the clitoral body, but the erectile tissue of the vestibular bulbs was separated from the corpora cavernosa of the clitoral body by the tunica albuginea. The erectile tissue of the vestibular bulbs abutted the ventrolateral walls of the urethra but was separated from the urethral mucosa by an indiscrete layer of erectilelike tissue with dense stroma. Conclusion: This study provided gross and histological confirmation of the relationships of the clitoris, vestibular bulbs, and urethra. Detailed knowledge of the anatomy of the clitoris is crucial for reducing surgical complications associated with periclitoral and distal urethral procedures, which may adversely affect sexual arousal and sexual function.
Aim: Second to fourth digit (2D:4D) ratio is used as an indicator of androgen exposure in fetal life. It is known that the differentiation of urogenital tract and finger length are both controlled by Homeobox genes (HoxA and HoxD). Therefore, factors that are connected with anthropometric characteristics of fingers are expected to be in relation with urogenital anatomy, depending on genetic and hormonal basis. Aim of the study is to evaluate the correlation between 2D:4D ratio and urethrovaginal space measurements. Materials and methods: In this prospective cohort study, digital anthropometric measurements of hands and ultrasonographic measurements of urethrovaginal space were evaluated and the correlation between these parameters were assessed in a sample of women in reproductive period. Results: A significant negative correlation was detected between both right and left hand 2D: 4D ratio and length of urethrovaginal space (p=0.007 and p=0.003, respectively). The thickness of urethrovaginal space at proximal, middle and distal segment was also correlated negatively with 2D:4D ratio for both hands. Conclusion: The findings of the current study have shown a correlation between 2D: 4D ratio and urethrovaginal space measurements. The insights gained from these data will serve as a base for future research about the relationship between 2D:4D and female genital anatomy. The present study has also provided additional evidence with respect to anatomical features of UVS.
O'Connell et al. (1998) proposed that the vestibular bulbs be renamed the “clitoral bulbs” because of their consistent relationship to the clitoris and inconsistent relationship to the vestibule. Normally such proposed esoteric changes in anatomical nomenclature would get little notice by anatomists, yet alone the general public; however, many subsequent articles and books placed this change in the context of centuries of male anatomists and physicians downplaying female sexual anatomy and sexuality. Most prominent is a 2022 book by Rachel Gross, Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage. Here we review this “Anatomical Voyage” and find author bias in omitting/including erroneous facts in this book. We also present a critique of a 1995 article that appeared in Feminist Studies; Graphical Representations in Anatomy Texts, c1900‐1991 (Moore and Clarke, 1995). This article, which has been repeatedly cited in the clinical literature, asserts that between circa 1950‐1980 anatomy textbooks purposely eliminated depicting/labeling the clitoris in illustrations because the authors of the textbooks were reflecting societal norms that de‐emphasized the importance of the clitoris. Unfortunately, the methods used by Moore and Clarke are not replicable; and further, their conclusions were not justified because of clear bias in their description and depiction of the anatomy sources they review.
Masturbation is one of the most common sexual behaviors in humans. It is also a phylogenetically widespread trait of various other mammalian and some non-mammalian species. Several hypotheses have been proposed aiming to explain the function of masturbation in primates and other species. These were mainly based on observations of nonhuman primates such as rhesus macaques or bonobos and rodents such as African ground squirrels. Based on these observations various scholars suggested that masturbation improves ejaculate quality, decreases the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections or is merely a by-product of sexual arousal and thus an alternate outlet to copulation. While these theories may explain some facets of masturbation in some species, they do not explain why masturbation is so widespread and has developed in various species as well as our hominid ancestors. Moreover, the research on which these theories are based is scarce and heavily focused on male masturbation, while female masturbation remains largely unexplored. This sex difference may be responsible for the one-sided theorizing that attributes a specific biological benefit to masturbation. We propose that the widespread prevalence of masturbation in the animal kingdom may be better explained by viewing masturbation as a primarily self-reinforcing behavior that promotes pleasure both in human and in nonhuman species.
Full-text available
Procedural safety is one of the determinants of whether parents ought to be able to authorise ritual circumcision (foreskin removal) for their minor children. The penis and clitoris differ greatly in anatomy. Their homology is irrelevant to whether boys and girls should be treated differently regarding circumcision. The infantile male foreskin is easily separable from the penile head for safe removal. It is large enough that circumcision is technically easy but small enough not to be highly vascularised. In contrast, the prepubertal clitoris is tightly bound to the clitoral hood, and both are tightly bound to adjacent non-clitoral tissue. This, and the tiny size of the clitoris, make infantile circumcision dangerous. Circumcision increases in safety with age in girls, for whom the procedure is probably safest after sexual maturation. The opposite is true in boys. Circumcision is safest in infancy but becomes more dangerous as the penis enlarges and its blood supply increases. I argue that religion has sufficiently powerful positive effects within a society, and is sufficiently important to its adherents, as to warrant some deference by the state. In a liberal society, rituals should be prohibited only if likely to create serious physical and psychological harm. Male infant circumcision fails to meet this bar; however, it is uncertain whether this is the case for prepubertal female circumcision.
Knowledge of the actual anatomy and function of the clitoris has been underrepresented for a long time. Anatomical descriptions and illustrations existed but were scientifically disregarded for centuries. Even now anatomy books and textbooks are still dominated by incorrect depictions and inadequate functional descriptions of the clitoris, even though the knowledge about this complex organ is essential for the clinical practice in gynecology, obstetrics, urology and other specialist disciplines. From a special gynecological perspective, the sociocultural and medical history are presented, including misunderstandings and misconceptions. The correct anatomy and physiology are closely related to the rediscovery of the clitoris in research and practice as well as in the social perception. The relevance of the clitoris for contemporary medicine regarding sexuality, self-awareness, self-determination and therefore gender equity can be seen as a fundamental and also political issue.
Full-text available
We investigated the anatomical relationship between the urethra and the surrounding erectile tissue, and reviewed the appropriateness of the current nomenclature used to describe this anatomy. A detailed dissection was performed on 2 fresh and 8 fixed human female adult cadavers (age range 22 to 88 years). The relationship of the urethra to the surrounding erectile tissue was ascertained in each specimen, and the erectile tissue arrangement was determined and compared to standard anatomical descriptions. Nerves supplying the erectile tissue were carefully preserved and their relationship to the soft tissues and bony pelvis was noted. The female urethra, distal vaginal wall and erectile tissue are packed into the perineum caudal (superficial) to the pubic arch, which is bounded laterally by the ischiopubic rami, and superficially by the labia minora and majora. This complex is not flat against the rami as is commonly depicted but projects from the bony landmarks for 3 to 6 cm. The perineal urethra is embedded in the anterior vaginal wall and is surrounded by erectile tissue in all directions except posteriorly where it relates to the vaginal wall. The bulbs of the vestibule are inappropriately named as they directly relate to the other clitoral components and the urethra. Their association with the vestibule is inconsistent and, thus, we recommend that these structures be renamed the bulbs of the clitoris. A series of detailed dissections suggest that current anatomical descriptions of female human urethral and genital anatomy are inaccurate.
Full-text available
To find out whether taking images of the male and female genitals during coitus is feasible and to find out whether former and current ideas about the anatomy during sexual intercourse and during female sexual arousal are based on assumptions or on facts. Observational study. University hospital in the Netherlands. Magnetic resonance imaging was used to study the female sexual response and the male and female genitals during coitus. Thirteen experiments were performed with eight couples and three single women. The images obtained showed that during intercourse in the "missionary position" the penis has the shape of a boomerang and 1/3 of its length consists of the root of the penis. During female sexual arousal without intercourse the uterus was raised and the anterior vaginal wall lengthened. The size of the uterus did not increase during sexual arousal. Taking magnetic resonance images of the male and female genitals during coitus is feasible and contributes to understanding of anatomy.
This study evaluated the female urethra and showed that the crural and bulbal cavernous structures constituted a significant portion of the urethral wall. Five embalmed cadavers and two fresh cadavers underwent excision and section of the urethra from the point where the proximal urethra joins the bladder to a point 3-5 mm above where the distal urethra terminates at its external meatus. Serial cuts were made, each 2-3 mm in length. The last segment was 1 cm in length (distal segment). The latter were numbered 1 through 8, section 1 being the most proximal and section 8 the most distal. The individual sections were stained with hematoxylin and eosin, Masson's trichrome (connective tissue, muscle), and Verhoeff's elastic (elastic tissue, muscle, connective tissue). The stained slides were studied and photomicrographed. The proximal urethra demonstrated prominent cavernous tissue at levels 3 and 4, derived principally from the vestibular bulb but also from the corpora cavernosa clitoris. These structures were incorporated into the anterior and anterolateral walls of the urethra. Overlying these structures was striated muscle derived from the levator ani muscles. The cavernous structures were most prominent in the first 15 mm of urethra. At levels 5 and 6, this had given way largely to skeletal muscle, which, again, constituted the major component of the anterior and lateral urethral walls. Thus, at 15-22 mm, skeletal muscle replaced the cavernous structures. Interestingly, no skeletal muscle nor cavernous tissue was seen on the posturethral wall. The circular and longitudinal smooth muscle of the urethra was seen throughout all sections and did not change from level to level. Little elastic tissue was identified in the submucosal or involuntary muscle components of the urethra. Extensive amounts of elastic tissue were seen in the anterior vaginal wall and within the cavernous fibrous tissue. This study demonstrated for the First time, to the authors' best knowledge, that vascular cavernous tissues constitute a significant portion of the proximal female urethra. Additionally, skeletal muscle arising from the levator ani is present in the anterior and lateral walls of the first 22 mm of the human female urethra.
Unlabelled: On the basis of 36 cases in sexology, the authors sought the site of the G point on the basis of clinical, ultrasonographic and anatomical findings. Clinical findings: examination of pleasant vaginal sensitivity. Discovered by patients unaware of it. Recognised by patients aware of it. Ultrasonographic findings: localization of a hypoechogenic zone, above all in the lower third of the vagina, corresponding with pleasant vaginal sensitivity and changing after digital vaginal examination and contractions of the levators. Anatomical findings: dissection of the anterior perineum of cadavers seeking this ultrasonographic hypoechogenic structure. These various approaches lead the authors to locate the G point at the urethral sphincter, as was suggested by Grafenberg in 1950, and to situate vaginal and clitoris sensitivity in the same anatomical entity: the urethro-clitorido-vulval entity.
The appearance of the vagina was evaluated on magnetic resonance (MR) images of 65 subjects who were healthy or had disease unrelated to the vagina and 24 patients with suspected congenital anomalies of the vagina. MR imaging accurately demonstrated the presence of (n = 78) or complete (n = 7) or partial (n = 4) absence of the vagina in each case. Partial (n = 2) or complete (n = 2) duplication of the vagina was also correctly diagnosed. Regardless of field strength, T2-predominant images were essential for evaluation. The transverse plane was optimal, and a 5-mm section thickness was preferable. Estrogen stimulation affected the appearance of the vagina: The contrast between the vaginal wall and the central mucus-containing area was greatest during the early proliferative and late secretory phases. MR imaging offers unique depiction of congenital anomalies and should be used when results of physical examination or other radiologic studies, such as ultrasound, are inconclusive.
High-resolution magnetic resonance (MR) imaging with phased-array pelvic and endorectal coils has dramatically enhanced the ability to visualize abnormalities of the female urethra and periurethral tissues. These include developmental abnormalities (eg, urethral duplication, ectopic ureterocele), benign processes (eg, urethral diverticulum, caruncle, leiomyoma, trauma, and fistula; stress incontinence; paravaginal cyst), and malignant processes (eg, primary urethral carcinoma, secondary urethral malignancies). High-resolution MR imaging can be used to assess complications such as fistula formation and periurethral abscess, localize various entities, exclude pathologic processes whose presence could lead to an incorrect diagnosis, differentiate processes that might be confused at physical examination, and contribute to surgical planning and facilitate surgical correction.
PIP Examines the use of clitoridectomy in Victorian England as an example of the persistent connection between belief system and medical practice. The Victorian context of gynecological practice is briefly described, followed by a discussion of the use of clitoridectomy by Isaac Baker Brown, an eminent gynecological surgeon who advocated its use to cure a variety of nervous disorders. Brown's 1866 book. "On the curability of certain forms of insanity, epilepsy, catalepsy, and hysteria in females" sparked a controversy over the place of clitoridectomy in gynecological practice which culminated in ostracism of Brown by the medical establishment. The primary reason for Brown's ostracism appears to have been his desire to gain public recognition for a practice that was quietly employed by others; his efforts were viewed as a threat by male physicians who had only recently achieved success in establishing gynecology as a legitimate branch of medicine. Few doctors who condemned the operations advocated by Brown disputed his contention that female emotional disorders were based on genital misfunctions. The scientific investigation called for by Brown to justify his methods might, if carried out, have helped dispel some of the myths concerning female anatomy and psychology which flourished in the medical profession and social mores of the day.