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Blechner, M. (2017). The Clitoris: Anatomical and Psychological Issues. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 18(3):190-200.

(2017). Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 18(3):190-200

The Clitoris: Anatomical and Psychological Issues

Mark J. Blechner, Ph.D.

The anatomy of the clitoris is much larger than commonly believed. Besides the small tip of the clitoris known as the glans, which protrudes in the external genitalia, the crura (or legs) of the clitoris extend 9 cm inside the body, with erectile tissue adjacent to the vagina and urethra. This finding has significance for theories of female sexual responsiveness, including the differentiation of clitoral and vaginal orgasms. It also offers guidelines for preserving erotic response during pelvic surgery in women. The facts of clitoral anatomy, clarified with modern scanning procedures by surgeon Helen O’Connell and colleagues (2005), have been repeatedly discovered, forgotten, and rediscovered, at least since 1844, when the German anatomist Kobelt made accurate drawings. Psychological reasons for why the true anatomy of the clitoris has so often been repressed or misrepresented by anatomists, psychologists, and other scientists are proposed. That most anatomists have historically been men may have led to disregard for precise charting of the clitoris that might lead to greater preservation of female sexual response. Envy by male anatomists of female sexual response may also play a role. Correct anatomical knowledge may significantly alter psychoanalytic theory and practice.

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