Have you ever heard that the clitoris contains 8,000 nerve endings? According to a recent study, that figure may possibly be significantly higher.
That often-quoted estimate, which, fun fact, comes from a book from 1976 and is based on a study of cows, not people, was the subject of a study by researchers from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. They were interested in finding out if it still holds true. Seven willing trans masculine patients who were undergoing phalloplasty, a gender-affirming procedure in which genital tissue is rebuilt to create a functional penis, provided 5-millimeter clitoral nerve samples for the team’s study. The total number of nerve endings throughout the entire clitoris was then extrapolated using the nerve fibers in these samples.
Their discoveries were instructive: The average clitoris has 10,280 total nerve endings, according to the team’s estimation. For comparison, the glans penis, or head of the penis, which is already regarded as very sensitive, has less than half as many nerve endings. This implies that the clit is significantly more responsive to touch than we first believed.
Blair Peters, MD, the study’s primary author, told MedPage Today that the median nerve, which innervates the majority of the human hand and is known to cause carpal tunnel syndrome, has 18,000 nerve fibers. In order to understand how highly innervated the structure actually is, compare the size of a hand to that of the glans of the clitoris.
Anyone with a clitoris won’t be surprised by scientific proof of the clit’s extreme sensitivity. Clitoral stimulation is the simplest approach to induce orgasm for many women and those who were assigned female at birth. It explains why oral sex and vibrators, which directly target the clitoral region, are so successful.
Despite this, medical research on the clitoris is very lacking—especially when compared to the penis.
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Rainey Horwitz, a medical student at St. Louis University School of Medicine who was not involved with the study, told MedPage Today that “there are folks who have entire fellowships that are devoted to maintaining erectile function, making erections straight.” No specialization has taken care of that for the clitoris or truly feels the need to do so. Is it medical misogyny, then?
These discoveries, according to researchers, can be applied to “optimize sensation” in gender-affirming surgeries as well as other restorative procedures for patients who have suffered dorsal nerve or clitoris damage. We can only hope that this knowledge will help both doctors and those who suffer from clitorises.
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