Dr. Jacquelyn Paykel
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Sexual Health
The clitoris gets a lot of press as the sure way to female orgasm. What many women think of as the
“button” of the clitoris, or the glans, is merely the tip of the iceberg. The part of the clitoris that is
visible to the eye is a small fraction of the whole organ. The tissue that makes up the clitoris is
actually about 3.5 inches long and contains 8000 nerve fibers that extend into the entire pelvic
region, including the vaginal walls.

The word “clitoris” comes from the Greek word kleitoris, meaning “little hill,” but as you can see, the
clitoris isn’t little at all. Connected to the glans are two long and large bulbs under the skin which
encircle the vagina and the urethra. The clitoris becomes stimulated when a woman is aroused,
either directly by stimulating the tip of the clitoris or any part of your body, or indirectly by reading a
romance novel, thinking about your lover, feeling your partner’s embrace, or even just enjoying an
intimate conversation. When aroused, blood surges into the clitoral bulbs, making the entire region
around the vagina responsive to sexual pleasure.

Until recently, the only way that scientists were able to see the clitoris was by examining dead
clitoral tissue. Using MRI technology, noted Australian urologist Dr. Helen O’Connell has been able
to study the clitoris. Her findings reveal that clitoral tissue swells and responds to sexual pleasure
when a woman is aroused — more than was previously believed. Because of these findings, Dr. O’
Connell relates the roots of the clitoris, and the erectile tissue of the clitoral bulbs, with the urethra
and vagina. In other words, she says, “The vaginal wall is, in fact, the clitoris.” Simply stated,
stimulating the clitoris increases the sensitivity of the vaginal walls, and stimulating the vaginal
walls arouses the clitoris.