The Clitoris's Similarities to the Penis: Deeper Than You Think!

How often have you heard the bull­shit that female anato­my is con­fus­ing? Or worse, that male orgasms are a giv­en, while female orgasms are dis­tant and otherworldly?

The Clitoris's Similarities to the Penis: Deeper Than You Think! 1
I'm here to tell you that vulvas and vaginas aren't especially complicated.

They might be tucked away and less con­spic­u­ous than penis­es, but over­all, they're sim­i­lar (and sen­si­tive!) tis­sues in a dif­fer­ent shape. These dif­fer­ences arise in response to hor­mones, but there's a lot of over­lap in the under­ly­ing "wiring."

A friend in medical school compared genitals to Legos: the same building blocks but a different arrangement.

Homologous Tissues Among Sex Organs

As human embryos grow, all genitalia starts developing via the same pathway.

Sex organ homol­o­gy goes so much deep­er than the cli­toris — both lit­er­al­ly and figuratively.

For starters, the pea-​sized bump most peo­ple know as the cli­toris is just the tip of the ice­berg. A 4‑inch-​long cli­toris is not an out­lier; that's quite aver­age, but most of it is inter­nal. It has a wishbone-​like struc­ture and "bulbs" that wrap around the sides of the vagi­na. And, like a penis, it engorges when aroused.

Take a look at the sex organ homology diagram below.

The Clitoris's Similarities to the Penis: Deeper Than You Think! 2

You could think of the cli­toris as a mostly-​internal penis or a penis as a mostly-​external cli­toris. If the draw­ing looks like a Pokémon evo­lu­tion to you, you're not alone.

To sum up just a few of the sex organ homologies:

  • The exter­nal cli­toris is like the glans/​head of the penis.
    • A LOT of nerve end­ings are con­cen­trat­ed here!
  • The cli­toral hood is like the fore­skin.
    • "Prepuce" is a tech­ni­cal name for both.
  • The "legs" and "bulbs" of the cli­toris are like the penile shaft.
  • The scro­tal sac is like the labia majora
  • The testes are like the ovaries.
The foreskin of the penis is homologous to the hood of the clitoris

What Sex Organ Homology Means in the Context of Pleasure

When it comes to playtime, it can be helpful to:
  • Look past pre­con­ceived ideas of dif­fer­ences between sets of gen­i­talia.
  • Celebrate dif­fer­ences in what indi­vid­u­als enjoy in the bedroom

Still with me? Here are some real-​life examples.

Why do straight women statistically have a harder time orgasming during partner play?

Imagine a hand-​job where ONLY the tip of the penis gets rubbed.

Many peo­ple with penis­es CAN orgasm that way, sure. However, many pre­fer hav­ing the entire cock and balls stroked, too. Likewise, many peo­ple with vul­vas can orgasm by rub­bing the cli­toral glans alone. However, some may pre­fer or need to pair that with pen­e­tra­tion or out­er labia massage.

Now think of the reverse: ONLY the penile shaft gets stroked.

That brings a small­er group of peo­ple to cli­max. It would be ludi­crous to tell a cis man that stim­u­lat­ing the shaft alone is supe­ri­or to stroking his entire cock.

But that's not much different from placing penetration-​only female orgasms on a pedestal.

Vaginal inter­course most­ly stim­u­lates the (inter­nal) cli­toral vestibules and cru­ra, while often over­look­ing the glans.

The Clitoris's Similarities to the Penis: Deeper Than You Think! 3

To view cunnilingus, fingerbanging/​rubbing, and partnered toy usage as "the appetizer" or "extra effort" is a disservice.

Consider that between 55–85% of peo­ple with vagi­nas can't con­sis­tent­ly orgasm via pen­e­tra­tion alone. Among those who can, the fol­low­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics are common:

  • A short-​to-​average clit-​vag gap
    • They can feel exter­nal rub­bing dur­ing intercourse.
  • A pro­nounced inter­nal cli­toris or ure­thral sponge
    • That way, it's more eas­i­ly acces­si­ble via straight penetration.
    • Curved toys and fin­gers can get the job done bet­ter for some. More on that later.
  • Accustomed to cervix stim­u­la­tion

I'm in the small­er group of those who can orgasm via inter­course alone. But all the same, I want to advo­cate for a vari­ety of bod­ies and plea­sure pref­er­ences. Needing exter­nal stim­u­la­tion is normal.

Vibrators aren't just for single ciswomen!

Speaking of vari­ety, I wish peo­ple would be more open to incor­po­rat­ing a vibra­tor into part­ner play. And we're not just talk­ing about the petite ones that fit between bod­ies dur­ing mis­sion­ary intercourse.

WAND MASSAGERS FEEL GOOD AGAINST A PENIS TOO. If you think of a penis as a big cli­toris, the idea isn't that out there. I wrote whole oth­er blog posts about that:

Going Deeper With Sponge Play: The G-Spot and Prostate

You may have heard peo­ple describe the prostate as the "male G‑spot," locat­ed in the but­t­hole. Or that the G‑spot is the female prostate. There's truth to both statements.

In either case, we're talking about spongy tissue that surrounds the urethra.

In peo­ple with vagi­nas, that includes the Skene's/paraurethral glands. Like the male prostate, the Skene's glands secrete prostate-​specific antigen.

Also, don't think of the ure­thral sponge as "in" the but­t­hole, but acces­si­ble via the rec­tal wall. That's also true for peo­ple with penis­es and peo­ple with vagi­nas. It's just that the lat­ter group has anoth­er, more direct hole you could play with.

What's up with all the debate around the G‑spot?

Plenty of peo­ple with vagi­nas expe­ri­ence plea­sure via shal­low front wall stim­u­la­tion. That part isn't up for debate.

The arguments mostly come down to pedantic semantics.

See, the G‑spot isn't a dis­tinct organ or "instant orgasm" but­ton. Rather than a spot, it's more like the gen­er­al area where the ure­thral sponge and inter­nal cli­toris are most plea­sur­ably sen­si­tive to touch.

Descriptions online tend to say the G‑spot 3–4 inch­es inside the vagi­nal canal, but that's more of a gen­er­al guide­line. Mine is far shal­low­er, about 1.5" in. Feel around for the pubic bone and spongey tis­sue. Seek a reac­tion of plea­sure, not a set measurement.

Stimulating the prostate, urethral sponge, and perineum

Prostate mas­sagers have one main thing in com­mon: a curve that aims for­ward to press against the sponge. One prime exam­ple is the njoy pure wand, which deliv­ers intense G‑spot and prostate stimulation.

[Image: njoy stainless steel sex toy boxes with red and pink satin
Fingers can also stimulate the prostate by:
  • Hooking and mak­ing a "come hith­er" motion
  • Making tiny twist­ing motions with the fin­gers bent
  • Massaging exter­nal­ly between the anus and scrotum

To build on that last point, peo­ple with vul­vas can stim­u­late anoth­er eroge­nous zone via the back wall: the per­ineal sponge. My favorite toy for that is the Chrystalino Champ, though dil­dos with bulky, tex­tured bases can mas­sage it exter­nal­ly, too.

Ultimately, sex toys are just tools to add to your arse­nal. It's like dri­ving a car instead of walk­ing to your des­ti­na­tion: faster and more focused, but not nec­es­sar­i­ly better.

Let's Wrap It Up!

I'll repeat it: I don't buy into the idea that a cli­toris is more com­pli­cat­ed than a penis. There might be a broad cul­tur­al stig­ma to the spelunk­ing, but shame doesn't have to lim­it your exploration.

Remember: the clitoris is the only known human organ that solely exists for the sake of pleasure.

If vul­vas are your thing, show your love for all of the cli­toris, from its root­ed legs to its peek­ing head.

The Clitoris's Similarities to the Penis: Deeper Than You Think! 4

This post was spon­sored. As always, the words expressed here are my own. The exter­nal links don't nec­es­sar­i­ly reflect my views.

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11 Responses

  1. overdrive says:

    Cy, this is an amaz­ing post and so help­ful. I found your blog through reviews for prod­ucts I love, like the vixskin out­law and gam­bler, and your info on anterior/​posterior fornix stim­u­la­tion was life-​changing for me. I'm a trans­gen­der man and when I start­ed on testos­terone, oth­er guys warned me to expect "growth" almost imme­di­ate­ly. They were right, but I wasn't aware of all of the "sub­ter­ranean" struc­tures (like the bulb and legs) that would ALSO grow thanks to testos­terone! In my case, all of the struc­tures shown in your beau­ti­ful­ly color-​coded dia­gram in this post hap­pened to grow, which I wasn't expecting.

    I didn't expect to be deal­ing with atro­phy because nobody in sup­port groups ever talked about it, but it's been a big issue in my life. Things that I used to love (like receiv­ing v‑ginal fist­ing), are no longer pos­si­ble because of pelvic pain and atro­phy. I ini­tial­ly did phys­io­ther­a­py for a hyper­ton­ic pelvic floor with a "trans-​inclusive" phys­i­cal ther­a­pist as "pre-​hab" for get­ting phal­lo­plas­ty, although I have been unable to access this med­ical­ly nec­es­sary surgery despite hav­ing a pro­fes­sion­al job with health­care cov­er­age. The pelvic floor phys­io­ther­a­pist was help­ful in address­ing the trau­ma I had around my hys­to, but I stopped see­ing that provider with she told me I was "non-​binary" because I was will­ing to receive stim­u­la­tion in and around my v‑ginal open­ing. Well, I have a very bina­ry expe­ri­ence of my own gen­der and I strong­ly iden­ti­fy as a man, so that was dif­fi­cult for me to hear. What has been hard­er to deal with is my inabil­i­ty to get phal­lo­plas­ty, deal­ing with gen­der dys­pho­ria, atro­phy, and try­ing to under­stand how my body works now.

    There is a famous urol­o­gist on Twitter whose aware­ness cam­paign around estra­di­ol as treat­ment for atro­phy was very help­ful for me. However, I have a very hard time using top­i­cal estra­di­ol, because if I use it too much, then it starts to have fem­i­niz­ing effects on my over­all appear­ance. Even if I'm only using a pea-​sized amount every night or every oth­er night, I have noticed that oth­ers get con­fused and start to mis­take me for a woman. I've been on testos­terone for 6 years, so I've backed off on my appli­ca­tion of estra­di­ol to a pea-​sized amount 2 days per week. That seems to be just enough to pre­vent ure­thral atro­phy, but it's not enough for me to be able to go back to the size­able things i crave and enjoy, like the vixskin gambler.

    Sorry for going all Livejournal in your com­ments sec­tion — I'm just won­der­ing if there are any avenues or resources for trans guys and trans­mas­cu­line peo­ple to dis­cuss top­ics like these. I've seen some posts from the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, or UCSF's Transgender Care. I'm not sure if this is even inter­est­ing or rel­e­vant to you or your audi­ence. But your open­ness and com­mit­ment to edu­ca­tion and inclu­siv­i­ty is why I decid­ed to post here instead of try­ing to send you an email.

  2. B R says:

    Wow. That's a lot of info. Thanks.

  3. B R says:

    Thanks for a very detailed expla­na­tion. It's some­thing every­one should learn.

  4. Horst says:

    I miss one infor­ma­tion about the inter­nal clit.size, what is the avarage size when soft and what is the length when the clit is hard ? and what can be the max­i­mum size of the inter­naql clit when she is aqroused ß

  5. D. Dyer says:

    Thank you for the clear con­cise and thought­ful explanation.

  6. Kate says:

    Thank you for this expla­na­tion and the dia­grams! I knew that my cli­toris was much more than just what peeks out, tho my part­ner seems to think a lit­tle fin­ger inser­tion and a flick around that spot is suf­fi­cient for fore­play… anoth­er sto­ry. I've recent­ly dis­cov­ered that a thud­dy sen­sa­tion against my g‑spot real­ly does a lot for me, but learn­ing about the quasi-​p-​spot or the wall between the vagi­na and anus — that's new. I've always liked the sen­sa­tion of dual play — but now I have a bet­ter under­stand­ing of why… and also real­ize that I need anoth­er good, thud­dy toy that I can direct to either my g‑spot OR my p‑spot. I can't wait to try it out. Thank you!!

  7. ZCRC says:

    This is an excel­lent, well informed edu­ca­tion­al post. I loved it. There needs to be so much more edu­ca­tion on the cli­toris for both women and men. Thank you for tak­ing the time to write this.

  8. Erica says:

    I always grew up with the notion that penis­es were bet­ter than vul­vas, and felt more plea­sure.. maybe bc of the men­tioned “plea­sure gap” idea that we have been con­di­tioned to have as a cul­ture, or maybe just from not so cool cis men doing their patri­ar­chal thing.. but either way, I know it’s BS, and I’ve had a lot of fun explor­ing my own body as a vul­va own­er! I’ve always sort of been more attract­ed to the idea of hav­ing exter­nal gen­i­talia, but hav­ing a vul­va is also an awe­some thing too. 🙂

  9. Kat says:

    I’m so pleased that you took the time to write this post! More peo­ple should be open to the truth. People with vagi­nas can be got­ten off in dif­fer­ent ways; just like penis own­ers have pref­er­ences vagi­na own­ers ALSO have pref­er­ences. All peo­ple like and want dif­fer­ent things, it’s not a p vs. v thing It’s just peo­ple and pref­er­ences. Everyone has a per­son­al pref­er­ence and it should be a nor­mal human right to be able to pur­sue it regard­less of gen­i­talia. It is insane to tell women there’s only one right way to find pleasure. 

    Have you read ‘Come As You Are’ Yet? I think you would love it. I think any­one with a vagi­na or who knows some­one with a vagi­na should read it. Game changer.

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