Quiz: How much do you know about the clitoris?

Even Though the ancient Greeks knew about it — they called it “kleitoris,” or “little hill" — and medieval European witch hunters examined accused women to try to find the “devil’s teat”, the clitoris remained ignored or disparaged for centuries.

Jen Gunter MD, author of the book The Vagina Bible and host of TED's Body Stuff podcast, has said her medical textbook in the 1980’s included only one tiny inset diagram of the clitoris ... which was labelled as “miniature penis.” (Meanwhile, the book had three pages on the structure of the penis.) In 2005, infuriated by the lack of information in her anatomy and medical textbooks, Australian urologist Helen O’Connell used MRIs and cadaver studies to publish a detailed “Anatomy of the Clitoris” in Urology Today . Her work made headlines and revealed the clitoris was significantly more complex than scientists had thought. Ten years later, French researcher Odile Fillod developed the first 3D model of a clitoris.

Doctors, researchers, sex educators and artists are now correcting, updating and talking about what was once unmentionable. You can now buy a clitoris keychain on Etsy; sculptor Alli Sebastian Wolf created the Glitoris, a golden replica that's 100 times larger than the real thing; and conceptual artist Sophia Wallace created Cliteracy, a mixed-media installation that contains sculptures, prints and posters (one slogan: “The Earth is not the center of the universe and the penis is not the axis.”) Wallace’s cliteracy movement, including a so-called Clit Rodeo, has traveled the world.

Dare yourself to find out how much you know — and what you can learn — by taking this eight-question quiz.

The shape of the clitoris most closely resembles which of these objects?

1) Rosebud

2) Wishbone

3) Bean

4) Pea


Question 2

What is the main function of the clitoris

1) Provide pleasure

2) Assist with reproduction

3) Protect the urogenital system

Provide pleasure.

Uniquely, the clitoris is the only human organ that has pleasure as its sole purpose. Contrast this to the penis, which is necessary for urination and reproduction.

So why does the clitoris exist in humans? Evolutionary biologists are not sure. Some believe that in early humans, the clitoris may have been closer to the vagina and more reliably stimulated during intercourse. This would lead to orgasm and the release of hormones once necessary for ovulation. But as the human body evolved and ovulation became cyclical, an orgasm was no longer necessary for reproduction and the clitoris migrated north to its present location. Others contend that the clitoris may have developed as a by-product of the penis and it's simply a happy development, although reproductively unnecessary (like male nipples). Regardless of the explanation, the main function of the clitoris today is for pleasure. Unfortunately, this capacity has historically been punished rather than celebrated. In the 1800s, so-called “hysterical” women were given clitoridectomies in the US and UK to reduce sexual desires that were considered unhealthy. Even now, according to the UN and the British anti-FGM advocacy organization Orchid Project, some 200 million women and girls throughout the world have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM), which includes the removal of part or all of the clitoris to control a woman’s sexuality.

Humans are the only animals with clitoris

a) True

b) False



Every mammal, some birds and a few reptiles have a clitoris; in fact, snakes reportedly have two. (Fun fact: Male snakes also have two penises.) However, there are differences in form and function of the clitoris among animals. The female spotted hyena’s clitoris is an eight-inch long, phallus-shaped organ that is referred to as a “pseudo-penis,” and it's used for urination, sexual reproduction, and, remarkably, childbirth. Recent research on female bottlenose dolphins has revealed that the dolphin’s clitoris is shaped similarly to a human’s (minus the vestibular bulbs), but it is located in a different place. MRI images show that the dolphin clitoris is also situated internally — but much closer to the vaginal opening. Unlike the human clitoris, it's most likely to be directly stimulated during intercourse. Dolphins are known to be sexual, seeking out sex at times when they cannot conceive, according to biologists, and this anatomical quirk may explain why. “There is no way that copulation could happen [in dolphins] without stimulation of the clitoris,” said biologist Patricia Brennan, whose research was presented at the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting in Orlando.
Humans are the only members of the animal kingdom that have a clitoris.

Approximately how many nerve endings are in the human clitoris

A) 80
B) 800
C) 8000
D) 80000