Women don’t typically talk about their “erections.” But when she’s sexually aroused, her clitoris stiffens and grows larger—just like your erect penis, says Vincenzo Puppo, Ph.D., of Italy’s Centro Italiano di Sessuologia.
If you ever wanted to learn about the clitoris, Puppo’s Anatomy and Physiology of the Clitoris is an enlightening read. Think of it like that oral sex book the high-schoolers passed around in American Pie—if that book were written by a clinical anatomist.
Here are six more surprising, startling facts about a woman’s most enigmatic sexual appendage. The fact that she gets a mini hard-on is only the beginning . . .
Call it the female penis.
Puppo’s research shows the female clitoris is the “homologue” of the male penis, which basically means they’re closely related structures—albeit one is much smaller than the other. But unlike your multi-functional penis, her clitoris seems to be designed purely for sexual stimulation.
Here’s a fun fact: More research suggests your penis and her clitoris started out as the same thing before different hormones caused each to develop in their own sex-specific ways.
For more proof that you were almost a member of the fairer sex, check out 3 Signs You Started as a Girl!
It comes in many sizes, but that doesn’t matter.
The size of a woman’s clitoris can vary considerably, Puppo explains. The organ can be up to 3 centimeters in length—longer than an inch—while the circumference of the clitoris can also range between .1 to .3 inches, he says.
But when it comes to pleasure and orgasm, Puppo says the size of her clitoris doesn’t seem to play a role. “A very tiny clitoris, so thin and low it can hardly be picked up by the fingers, may be associated with powerful orgasm from friction or pressure,” he says. (And don’t stop at her clitoris. Check out these 5 Things You Didn’t Know about Her Vagina.)
Age doesn’t matter, either.
Unlike guys—who have to deal with erectile dysfunction and other age-related penis problems—women’s clitoral sexual responses don’t change as they get older, Puppo says.
“Women have the physical capability of being orgasmic at any age,” he adds.
It’s an orgasm machine.
Because the clitoris is so small compared to the penis, its nerve endings are much more concentrated, Puppo says. Some research suggests she also has up to twice as many nerve endings in her clitoris as you have in your member.
As a result, her clitoris is much more sensitive to stimulation than your schlong. That’s partially why women have “an almost unlimited orgasmic potential,” Puppo says. You can also credit her lack of refractory period between orgasms, meaning she can climax several times in a row without a break.
(Beat your pesky refractory period and learn How to Have Multiple Orgasms.)
It may be bigger than yours!
While anatomists debate this point, an Australian study in the Journal of Urologyclaims the clitoris extends 6 inches inside her body and into her pelvis—meaning it could actually be bigger than your penis.