Clitoral erection

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Vulva, not aroused (left), aroused (right), see also Biological functions of nitric oxide

Clitoral erection is a physiological phenomenon where the clitoris becomes enlarged and firm. Clitoral erection is the result of a complex interaction of psychological, neural, vascular and endocrine factors, and is usually, though not exclusively, associated with sexual arousal.


The internal anatomy of the human vulva, with the clitoral hood and labia minora indicated as lines.

Clitoral erection occurs when the corpora cavernosa, two expandable erectile structures, become engorged with venous blood. This may result from any of various physiological stimuli, including sexual stimulation and sexual arousal. The extrusion of the glans clitoridis and thinning of the skin enhances sensitivity to physical contact. After a female has orgasmed, the erection usually ends, but this may take time.


The clitoris is the homologue of the penis in the female. The part visible on the outside varies in size from a few millimeters to one centimeter and is located hidden in the upper labial fold. Any type of motion can increase blood flow to this organ and this results in increased secretions which lubricate the vagina. There are many ways to stimulate the clitoris.

Signs of clitoral stimulation[edit]

Stimulation of the clitoris can lead to vaginal wetness and engorgement and swelling of the clitoris and the labia, along with increased redness or darkening of the skin in these areas. Further sexual arousal can lead to changes to the internal organs, including to the internal shape of the vagina and to the position of the uterus within the pelvis.[1] Other changes include an increase in heart rate as well as in blood pressure, feeling hot and flushed and perhaps experiencing tremors.[2] A sex flush may extend over the chest and upper body. If sexual stimulation continues, then sexual arousal may peak into orgasm.

Shape and size[edit]

An erect clitoris can take on a number of different shapes and angles, ranging from small and embedded, to large and protruding. Generally, the size of an erect clitoris is fixed throughout post-pubescent life.


A clitoral erection that does not subside is a form of priapism called clitorism, a painful condition where the clitoris will experience recurring erections.

Neurovascular mechanism of clitoral erection[edit]

The clitoris consists of an external short head attached to a long body which is internally located. The body of the clitoris is surrounded by bulky erectile tissue on either side. This bulk contains muscles and is richly innervated with sensory nerves. While the penis is an external organ which is distended, the clitoris is small and is an internal structure. The major nerve which produces sensations to the clitoris is a branch of the pudendal nerve, also known as the dorsal nerve of the clitoris.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Soucasaux, Nelson (1990). "The Female Sexual Response". Novas Perspectivas em Ginecologia. Retrieved 10 August 2010. 
  2. ^ McKinne, Kathleen (1991). Sexuality in close relationship. Routledge. p. 59. ISBN 0-8058-0719-5. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  3. ^ Sydney Morning Herald. "The clitoris: anatomy of a revolution" 2010-02-09.