Women’s Anatomy of Arousal

Women’s anatomy of arousal starts at the top of your vulva (the part that houses your external reproductive organs). At the very top is your clitoris, which looks like a button or nub above your urethral opening.

The distance between a woman’s glans and the clitoral shaft correlates with her likelihood to experience orgasm during sexual intercourse. This correlation reflects the close relationship between glans positioning and the internal sensitivity of clitoral structures.

The Clitoris

You’ve probably heard of the clitoris, and maybe you’ve even seen it in a mirror. It’s the little protrusion that extends out of your urethral opening and vaginal canal, and it’s full of sensitive nerve endings. That’s why it can feel so good to suck or rub on. But most of the clitoris isn’t visible from the outside, and the parts that are can look different from person to person.

On the outside, the clitoris is covered by a flap of skin called the clitoral hood. The hood might cover all or only some of your glans clitoris, which is the part that sticks out from your urethral opening (the hole you pee through) and vaginal canal. The glans is also full of nerve endings, which makes it very sensitive to touch and pressure.

From the glans, a spongy shaft called the body of the clitoris extends down and outward into your vulva. It branches off into two legs called the crura, which are made of non-erectile tissue. Together, the clitoral body, crura, and bulbs form a wishbone shape, with the latter three tissues hugging the urethra and vagina (8).

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In between the crura is a pair of structures called the vestibular bulbs, which are the part that can swell up during sexual stimulation to make you feel like you’ve got an erection (9). It’s these structures that most people call the G-spot.

The G-Spot

For centuries, women have reported feeling pleasurable sensations in the area of the front wall of their vagina called the G-spot. It’s supposedly sensitive to touch and, when stimulated, causes fluid ejaculation. It’s also close to the urethra, which is where you pee.

Some experts believe that the G-spot has a sponge-like structure and contains erogenous tissue that feels different than the rest of the vagina’s surface. It’s been said that this spot can be accessed by pointing a penis or sex toy toward the upper front part of the vagina.

The G-spot was first described in medical literature in 1950 by a researcher named Grafenberg. He speculated that the area was an important contributor to female orgasms and that it could be reached by penetration. For years, the G-spot was considered to be a mystery, until 2012 when a Florida researcher dissected the cadaver of an 83-year-old woman and confirmed the anatomic existence of the area.

The study found that the G-spot is part of the clitourethrovaginal complex where the clitoris, urethra and vagina meet. The G-spot is thought to be highly innervated, which may explain why it feels different than the rest of the vulva and is so responsive to stimulation. It’s not clear if the G-spot is a single structure or multiple structures that work together, but it’s likely that the entire clitourethrovaginal complex can produce orgasms.

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The Crura

The crura are the proximal projections of the corpora cavernosa. Each ‘leg’ of the crura attaches to the ipsilateral ischiopubic ramus. The spongy tissue within the corpora cavernosa is covered by the tunica albuginea, a dense fibrous sheath with relatively few elastic fibers. The sheath contains a number of flattened columns or sinusoidal trabeculae lined by endothelium. These contain a network of arteries, nerves, muscle fibers, and fluid filled venous sinuses.

Each paired corpora cavernosa is separated in the center by an incomplete septum called the pectiniform septum. The corpora communicate freely through this opening in the septum.

Between the corpora lies a spongy structure called the vestibular bulbs, which are situated to the left and right of the urethra, the clitoral hood, and the vagina. These are surrounded by the deep penile (Buck) fascia, which is continuous with the deep fascia of muscles covering each crus of the corpora cavernosa and the bulb of the corpus spongiosum.

The crura of the penis and the vestibular bulbs are highly sensitive structures that respond to stimulation, particularly sexual stimulation. They are also important for the production of ejaculate, which passes through the glans of the corpora cavernosa. The glans are also the site of the clitoral prepuce, which is homologous to a similar structure covering the clitoral hood in men (see Chapter 4). The crura and glans are both susceptible to injury or trauma during sexual activity and contact with other objects.

The Vestibular Bulbs

The vestibular bulbs are two elongated masses of erectile tissue situated on either side of the vaginal opening. They are thought to relate closely to the clitoris. During sexual arousal they fill with blood and tightly cuff the vulva, making it swell to two or three times its usual thickness. This engorgement exerts pressure on the corpus cavernosa and crus of the clitoris, producing the sensations that are the basis of female orgasm.

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They abut the ventrolateral walls of the urethra and are separated from the urethral mucosa by an indiscrete layer of erectilelike tissue with dense stroma. The clitoral glans, body and crura are also separated from the urethra by this indiscrete layer.

During orgasm, the muscles that lay over the top of her vestibular bulbs contract, feeling like they are occurring in the G-spot or even in her vulva but they always feel close to the vestibular bulbs. It is believed that, like the mechanism proposed for penile erection, smooth muscle polsters in the arteries supplying the two vestibular bulbs become relaxed. Those in the draining veins and a-v anastomoses also relax. This diverts the blood to the bulbs where it becomes tumescent.

This is an area that responds well to stroking and massaging. Try all kinds of strokes from small circles, pats to light kneading. Work more down than up, especially in the beginning, to encourage engorgement of this area around the opening to her vulva. The goal is to get it so tumescent that it seems gelatinous all over, not just in the G-spot or in the vulva.

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