The clitoris has many parts, yet however few can be seen. There are parts, which one can feel under the skin. If you press above the clitoral hood then you will feel the body of the clitoris, called the clitoral shaft, which is about an inch. This much most people know about the clitoris. But there is more to it than that.
In the late 80’s Dr. Helen O’Connell made post-mortem examinations at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Melbourne, on women. She was looking for ways to prevent damage being done during uterine surgery and therefore made post-mortem examinations to map how the nerve-fibres around the clitoral area were running, in the same way that had been done on men, in order to prevent impotence after prostate surgery.
To her surprise, she discovered that her examinations of the anatomy didn’t correspond with what was described in some of the anatomy books for student doctors. Her report has been published in the Journal of Urology titled Anatomical Relationship between Urethra and
Clitoris Vol. 159, June 1998
and New Scientist 1 August 1998, pp.
The report created immediate attention.
Dr. O’Connell argued that the clitoris is much larger than normally believed. The larger part is hidden inside of the pelvic area. The external 'head' is attached to the internal body which is as big as the first joint of a thumb. The body is divided into the clitoral legs which could be as long as 3,5 inches and wrap around the vagina and the urethra, and like the penis, they swell with blood when aroused These two legs end above the anal muscle. You can touch them if you put you finger on the outer lips and press and move your finger a little. It is like the clitoral shaft but thinner.
Parallel with the clitoral legs are the clitoral bulbs which also are enlarged and increasingly sensitive by excitement. Dr. O’Connell emphasized that these bulbs, really are an embryologic part of the clitoris.
Furthermore there is erectile tissue surrounding the urethra, the urethral sponge. This tissue also swells with blood when aroused and is partly very sensitive (see further section on Female G-spot).
The experts on anatomy didn’t dispute her findings and Dr. O’Connell’s observations corresponded to the standard work Human Sex Anatomy, by R.L. Dickinson 1949. He had published detailed reproductions of the female pelvic anatomy. In Human Sex Anatomy there is a sketch which corresponds to the findings of Dr. O’Connell’s, in regard to the size of the clitoris.
Why this information has not been explicitly explained in medical texts or other books meant for the public, we can only guess. Could it have been a result of disinterest? If so, who would benefit from ignoring this information? Dr. O’Connell’s research, which had its starting point in mapping out the nerves connected to the clitoris, has not changed the anatomical chart, but the attention her research has caused, has meant that the knowledge about the size and edification of the clitoris has begun to spread. She is continuing to do research about the nerve-fibres and she has so far also concluded that the supportive tissue around clitoris (which often contains nerve-fibres) is much vaster and more complex than we have known so far.