For as long as we’ve been comfortable talking about it in public (which hasn’t been very long in the grand scheme), most discussion around the function of the clitoris has centered on the organ’s role in female sexual pleasure.
But in a new review published in the journal Clinical Anatomy, Roy J. Levin of the University of Sheffield argues that the clitoris “has both procreative (reproductive) and recreative (pleasure) functions of equal importance.”
Levin bases his assertion on several pieces of evidence. He notes that stimulating the clitoris sends signals to the brain, which then trigger actions in a woman’s reproductive system including increased vaginal blood flow, lubrication, oxygen levels and temperature. Most importantly, stimulation brings a change in the position of the cervix, providing optimal conditions for sperm to mobilize in order to fertilize the egg.
As the summary of the review lays out:
“All these genital changes taken together are of major importance in facilitating the possibility of reproductive success (and thus gene propagation) no matter how or when the clitoris is stimulated—they reveal its overlooked reproductive function.”
“The often repeated mantra, that the sole function of the clitoris is to induce sexual pleasure, is now obsolete,” Levin said in a release. “The concept changes a major sexual belief, and the physiological evidence is now obvious.”
Re-casting the clitoris as an organ that enables both pleasure and reproduction could also have ramifications for the controversial and widely condemned practice of clitoridectomy, often referred to as female genital mutilation.
“Clitoridectomy creates not only sexual disability but also a reproductive disability,” Levin writes.