TUESDAY, Nov. 1, 2022 (HealthDay News) — More than 10,000 nerve fibers — far more than expected — supply the human clitoris, according to Oregon researchers who were able to count them for the first time during a gender claim surgery genital.
This is about 20% more than previous estimates, they said.
“It’s amazing to think of over 10,000 nerve fibers packed into something as small as [the] clitoris,” said Dr. Blair Peters, a plastic surgeon from Transgender Health Program at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in Portland.
He said it’s especially surprising if you compare the clitoris to other larger parts of the body, including the human hand.
“Even though the hand is much, much larger than the clitoris, the median nerve only contains about 18,000 nerve fibers, less than twice the nerve fibers that are packed into the much smaller clitoris,” Peters said. in university news. Release.
The only job of the clitoris is to allow pleasurable sensations.
It consists of the very sensitive glans on the outside of the body and more tissues on the inside. The inner parts of the clitoris include the dorsal nerve, which is primarily responsible for sensation.
Peters collected dorsal nerve tissue samples from seven transmale volunteers (assigned female at birth but not identifying as female) who were undergoing gender-affirming genital surgery. A small amount of tissue is usually cut during phalloplasty, a surgery to create a penis.
The researchers dyed the tissues and magnified them 1,000 times under a microscope, then counted them using image analysis software.
The software counted an average of about 5,140 dorsal clitoral nerve fibers in the sample. These were doubled to estimate the total for both sides, approximately 10,281 nerve fibers.
Peters said the clitoris actually had more nerve fibers in total because other, smaller nerves lay beyond the dorsal nerve.
The research partly fills a huge gap in the area of sexual health for women or women assigned at birth.
Peters’ interest in studying the clitoral nerves is to improve outcomes for patients undergoing phalloplasty surgery.
He also hopes to count nerve fibers at the end of the penis (glans) with a view to improving the construction of a clitoris in genital gender-affirming surgeries for transfeminine patients. This count would also increase the understanding of comparable nerve structures between the two pleasure centers.
The goal is to use the results to improve patient sensation and develop new surgical techniques to repair injured nerves, the researchers said.
“Better understanding the clitoris can help everyone, regardless of gender identity, but it’s important to recognize that this research is only possible because of gender-affirming surgeries and transgender patients,” Peters said. . “There is something profound about gender-affirming care becoming more mainstream and benefiting other areas of healthcare as well. A rising tide lifts all boats. Oppressing or limiting transgender healthcare will hurt to everybody.”
Peters presented the results Thursday at a joint meeting of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America and the International Society for Sexual Medicine in Miami. Results presented at medical meetings are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The Bureau of Population Affairs has more information on gender-affirming care.
SOURCE: Oregon Health and Science University, press release, October 27, 2022