A 3d printed clitoris in a hand
Photo Credit Marie Docher 

The clitoris is an amazing structure. Its only job is to enable pleasurable sensations.

It has been widely reported and often repeated that the clitoris contains about 8,000 nerve endings. I searched a great variety of resources and references before putting that into my book. However, new research reveals that there are even more nerves there than were previously thought. 

Additionally, I just learned that the original estimate came from an examination of "bovine tissue"--cows--not humans. That was a pretty shocking discovery in itself! It was also rather alarming to know that there had been no study of this until NOW!

There are, in fact, an average of 10,280 clitoral nerve fibers according to the new research. That is a full 20% more than previously reported. This intriguing update was presented by Blair Peters, MD, of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, at the Sexual Medicine Society of North America annual meeting. Dr. Peters remarked:

"It's startling to think about more than 10,000 nerve fibers being concentrated in something as small as [the] clitoris," 

Tissues were dyed and magnified 1,000 times under a microscope so individual nerve fibers could be counted with the help of image-analysis software.

While the penis has been studied aplenty, the vulva, which includes the clitoris, labia majoralabia minora, and posterior fourchet(te) is poorly understood. Historically, medical science hasn’t paid much attention to the sexual function of those of us with vulvas. This has led to a significant knowledge gap in the sexual health field. 

The findings could help to develop new surgical techniques to repair injured nerves, and reduce the incidence of accidental nerve damage for patients who undergo labiaplasty, a surgery to reduce the size of inner lips that surround the vaginal opening. (Of course my advice would be to ornament and celebrate your inner labia rather than cut them off....)

This came right on the heels of an alarming New York Times article I came across just 10 days earlier:

Half the World Has a Clitoris. Why Don’t Doctors Study It?

The organ is “completely ignored by pretty much everyone,” medical experts say. Unfortunately, that omission can be devastating to women’s sexual health.

The article describes multiple circumstances of those with vulvas who experienced devastating damage due to this lack of expertise and knowledge. One lost clitoral sensation and the ability to orgasm following  a vulval biopsy. Other medical procedures can also damage nerves leading to genital pain and loss of sexual sensation. These include pelvic mesh surgeries, episiotomies during childbirth, the afore-mentioned labiaplasties, and even hip surgeries.

The article states, "...a failure to examine the vulva and clitoris led doctors to regularly overlook sexual health conditions...nearly 1 in 4 had clitoral adhesions, which occur when the hood of the clitoris sticks to the glans and can lead to irritation, pain and decreased sexual pleasure." See my blog post on the topic of clitoral adhesions, as they can make it seem you're unsuited to a VCH piercing, even if you're actually a candidate!

Anyone in search of a practitioner to perform genital piercings should be aware that a lack of understanding and clarity about vulva anatomy on the part of piercers can have devastating results. My blog is full of posts about painful accidental piercings of the clitoral glans. I've seen them from botched VCH, triangle, and HCH piercings. I've also seen clitoral glans piercings that were so horribly positioned they had to be abandoned. These were performed on individuals who requested a clitoral glans piercing, but their practitioners failed to carry out the procedure skillfully. And some of those piercees were entirely unsuited anatomically, but that didn't stop their piercers from proceeding anyway.

The point is, genitals are sensitive--especially the region of the clitoris. Well-placed piercings often enhance sensation and bring great pleasure and satisfaction. Poorly done genital piercings can be agonizing and even leave behind a temporary or permanent loss of sensation in the region. This is not an area with which to take chances. If you can't get pierced by me, check my referrals list for a qualified professional.

Additionally, don't be upset if a piercer politely declines because they don't feel comfortable honoring a certain request to pierce you. If a professional doesn't have necessary training or skill to carry out the procedure properly, that is an excellent reason to decline. Many piercers nowadays do fantastic piercings of the ear, nose, and mouth, but have little or no training in placements south of the waistline. Further, many individuals are anatomically unsuited to the piercings they request, and declining is the correct course of action in such cases. I always respect a piercer who politely refuses to pierce when it is the right thing to do. 


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