Learn About Sexuality

The female erectile sex organ (or phallus)

In the absence of testosterone, the genital tubercle forms the female phallus, called the clitoris. The clitoris is made up of the glans, the shaft and the internal organ. Women do not have the anatomy (the clitoris does not respond with a lover) or the mental response to erotic stimuli that makes male arousal so easy. Even for women who can masturbate to orgasm when alone, orgasm is a simple pleasure when she can achieve it.

A woman’s sex organ (clitoris) is separate from her internal reproductive anatomy (ovaries, uterus and vagina). The sole function of the clitoris is to be a sex organ. Unlike a man, a woman has separate anatomy for urination (the urethra), reproduction (the vagina) and orgasm (the clitoris). These three functions are all combined for a man and provided by the penis. A woman’s anatomy is more evolved (because each part of her anatomy has only one function) but a man’s anatomy is more practical and convenient.

The clitoris is the homologue of the penis but the female phallus develops very differently to a male phallus. There is considerably more complexity involved in the development of the penis compared with the clitoris. The clitoris is smaller. It consists of the bud (or glans) and the internal organ. Only the glans of the clitoris is visible but it is hidden by the labia and pubic hair. The clitoris is only a minor part of a woman’s sexual anatomy.

The sex organ (penis or clitoris) is the only erectile organ of the body. When a person is aroused (the mind’s response to eroticism) there is an increase in the rate of blood flow around the body. This increased blood flow causes swelling to varying degrees, called tumescence, in the genitals.

Mental arousal (a response to erotic stimuli) triggers physical arousal, which involves blood flowing into the corpus cavernosum. These two chambers are not hollow. They consist of spongy muscle tissue. During arousal, the spongy tissues trap blood. When we have an orgasm, the blood is released back into our circulation. The clitoris has corpora cavernosa that are smaller but analogous to those of the penis. Since the clitoris has no shaft, the corpora cavernosa are located within the internal clitoral organ.

The penis is highly sensitive to stimulation whereas the clitoris is almost inert. The clitoris can be tumescent (when blood flows into the corpora cavernosa) but it is never rigid and so lacks the sensitivity of the penis. The clitoris is not involved in reproduction. The clitoris is like a stub of a penis. The clitoris is not designed for penetration. The clitoris does not function as a phallus that is capable of penetrating and impregnating another person.

Female orgasm is a hangover from how the sexes evolved. Female orgasm is a miracle because we usually only evolve characteristics that have a purpose. We are also likely to lose characteristics that have no useful function. Male orgasm triggers ejaculation but female orgasm has no role in reproduction. The clitoris is the source of female orgasm, which provides a woman’s own personal pleasure. The clitoris only responds when a woman consciously focuses on becoming aroused by using fantasy.

Both the penis and the clitoris extend back into the pelvis in between muscles in the lower abdomen. Since it is largely internal, the clitoris does not have the same significance for a woman as the penis has for a man. Unless a woman is responsive, she is quite unaware of having a clitoris. Similar to an iceberg, what we see on the outside is only a small portion of the total organ. Both sexes clench the buttock muscles in the build up to orgasm to put pressure on the internal organ and so achieve orgasm.

Stimulation by a lover of the clitoral bud (even over the clitoral hood) causes women to have a range of responses from indifference to pain and discomfort. When a woman casually stimulates over her clitoral glans, she obtains little pleasure because she is typically unaroused. Even when masturbating, massaging over the glans and down over the internal organ (either side of the vaginal opening) does not provide sensational pleasure by itself. Mental arousal (fantasy) and physical arousal (tumescence) provide some mild pleasure. The key pleasure of masturbating for a woman revolves around the sensations of sexual release at the end.

During subconscious periods of arousal, increased blood flow (in older women) can cause the internal clitoral organ to swell. The swollen pubic area is very noticeable both to the eye and to touch (by pressing down either side of the labia). Clitoral tumescence does not indicate conscious arousal nor does it help with orgasm. The main benefit of clitoral tumescence is an increase in sensitivity in the internal pelvic organs during intercourse. In younger women there is little discernible swelling of the clitoris.

The clitoris, which is the phallus of the female, is the homologue of the penis of the male. (Alfred Kinsey 1953)

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