We may finally know how many nerve endings the human clitoris has.
The human clitoris is the scientific iceberg, both physically and metaphorically.
In the past, research on the clitoris of our species has been superficial at best, and even the little we think we know now isn’t always right.
The clitoris is often said to have 8,000 nerve endings, which is “twice as many” as the penis.
The study has not yet been peer-reviewed, but at least the results will be properly scrutinized.
The most quoted figures for innervation of the glans penis and glans clitoris come from older studies on cows. The results were simply adopted into human anatomy.
And these numbers have been going on for decades. Blair Peters, a plastic surgeon at the Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine, thinks it’s time for scientists to finally find the right number.
Peters specializes in gender affirmation care and his work relies on a deep understanding of the human genitalia. To conduct further research, Peters obtained clitoral nerve tissue from seven of his transmasculine volunteers undergoing genital surgery in his practice.
Under the microscope, Peters and his colleagues counted an average of 5,140 nerve fibers in the dorsal clitoral nerve, with two of these in the clitoris.
Taking into account the full range of samples studied, the total number of nerve endings innervating the entire wishbone-shaped organ ranges from 9,852 to 11,086 fibers.
Peters’ study is the first to report the number of nerve fibers in the human dorsal clitoral nerve and approximate the number of nerve fibers innervating the human clitoris.
“It’s amazing to think that over 10,000 nerve fibers are concentrated in something as small as the clitoris,” says Peters. “It’s especially amazing when you compare the clitoris to other large structures in the human body.”
The median nerve, which runs through the hand, is known for its high density of nerve fibers, explains Peters. its big.
So how does that innervation compare to the head of a man’s penis? Peters plans to find it.
It’s often said that the clitoris is twice as sensitive as the penis, but the numbers are more nuanced. Both genitalia have the same embryological origin. That is, they may contain approximately the same number of total nerve endings.
The most likely is how densely these nerve endings cluster in a particular location.
For example, early studies suggest that the tip of the clitoris has more variability in nerve density than the glans of the penis. Simply put, it probably means that part of the clitoris is very sensitive.
Peters hopes that a better understanding of how the genitals are innervated will ultimately help surgeons succeed in reconstructing the clitoris and penis.
“The fact that gender-affirming care is becoming more commonplace also benefits other areas of health care,” says Peters.
“The rising tide lifts all ships. Suppressing or restricting transgender health care harms everyone.”
Peters presented the findings at a joint scientific conference of scientists. North American Society of Sexual Medicine and International Society of Sexual Medicine.