Clitoris: its rediscovery is one of the good news of the year

Clitoris: its rediscovery is one of the good news of the year


In the year-end budgets, for 2022 we could have also included the discoveries on the clitoris. Because what we have just left behind was in fact a golden year for research on the female pleasure organ, both for our species and for animals. We have in fact discovered that our clitoris contains an even greater number of nerve fibers than we thought: in just 10 cm (considering uncovered and not visible parts) 10,000 are concentrated. But without being self-referential and widening our gaze towards the animal horizon, in 2022 we also discovered that the same organ is present and functional in female dolphins and snakes. Discoveries that have somewhat redeemed the clitoris, an organ that is sometimes a bit mistreated, sometimes difficult to study.

An issue that has been forgotten for too long

To put it this way, today there is an article appeared in The Conversation , by Louise Gentle , wildlife expert at Nottingham Trent University. But to tell the truth, practically in any work dedicated to the female genitalia the premise (and the controversy) is the same: they have always been studied little. Gentle's thesis is essentially this: the prevailing machismo, practically everywhere, has also affected research on the genital organs, so that if we know a lot about the penises of the animal kingdom, little is known about their female equivalent, the clitoris. Even if, judging by the latest research on the subject, something is changing, the attention on the clitoris is growing and discoveries - such as those mentioned - are arriving as a result. First of all showing one thing: that it is more widespread than previously believed and that it is a rather interesting organ.

Some basics

Let's start with dolphins, pardon dolphins, but not without first briefly reviewing what we are talking about. The clitoris is an erectile female organ, considered the counterpart of the penis, highly innervated and sensitive to sexual stimulation, located anteriorly above the labia minora in our species, of which only a small part can be seen from the outside. It is considered a center of pleasure, but its presence and stimulation are also associated with reproductive benefits: in fact, according to some, pleasure would in fact be the way to implement a whole series of anatomical and chemical micro-changes that have the purpose of promoting fertilization.

The study

But let's go back to the cetaceans. In dolphins, the existence of the clitoris was already known, but last year a study published in Current Biology shed light on its role, showing that, even for marine mammals, it performs functions related to pleasure in a similar way to what is observed in our species. On the other hand, dolphins also have sex for social and not merely reproductive purposes - the experts recall - and clitoral stimulations have also been observed among females. Analyzing the organ of a dozen animals that died of natural causes, the researchers found confirmation of their assumptions: the clitoris of dolphins was very similar to the human one, with abundant erectile tissue and innervation, with some quite large nerves. The clitoris itself in dolphins is also quite large. “Our study suggests that female dolphins probably experience pleasure when the clitoris is stimulated during mating, same-sex behavior and masturbation,” they wrote at the end of all their observations.

A finding unexpected

The problem is here, according to Gentle: if you search and study, then you will find it, and we probably didn't look for the clitoris very little. The latest animals to claim to have one are snakes: when an Australian and US team set out to look for it, they found it in nine species and it has all the characteristics - such as innervation and the presence of erective tissue - to imagine that it has a role in mating, which can essentially be stimulated, as the authors of the discovery explained just a couple of months ago, noting the heart shape and a certain diversity from species to species. “ The variability of the hemiclitoris (as it is more properly known, author's note) of snakes could be correlated with the behaviors of courtship and mating and help us understand how the choice of females takes place – reads their work – We hypothesize that the hemiclitoris transmit sensation to female snakes during courtship and mating, which could provide a more frequent reason for mating and thus increase the success of insemination." That is to say, again, the presence and functioning of the organ of pleasure is linked to the possible evolutionary meaning.

We are rediscovering the clitoris, therefore, the counterpart of the penis. And, like the penis, animal you go, clitoris you find. So Gentle mentions some of the most curious. Like that of the spotted hyena (or hyena ridens) which has a clitoris - and this is not surprising: clitorises are present in all mammals and more generally in amniotes (that is, also in reptiles and some birds) - similar to a penis which uses to urinate, mate and give birth, but spider monkeys also have a clitoris that resembles a penis in all respects.

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