Is my clitoris too big?
Ummm, I'm too embarrassed to ask the doctor or anyone, but my clitoris seems a lot bigger than every other girl's I know. Is this normal or should I see a doctor? Please answer me ASAP. I'm worried. Thank you so much!
While your clitoris may seem or, in fact, actually be bigger than other people you know, there’s likely no need to panic. Even though media and pornography may often present a uniform and idealized genital appearance, the fact of the matter is that clitorises (and vulvas and penises and breasts and testes) come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and overall appearances. Clitorises can be longer or shorter, thinner or wider, flat/less prominent or more obvious. The tip of the clitoris (known as the glans), which is located under the clitoral hood where the inner labia meets above the vulva, may be visible or hidden. During arousal, the clitoris may become swollen and change position, causing it to look bigger than when not aroused. No two clitorises look alike, but regardless of size, all of them function pretty much the same in their pursuit to provide pleasure.
One potential cause of a larger-than-average clitoris size is the hormone composition that a fetus is exposed to during its development. Despite the difference in size and function, penises and clitorises actually develop from the same body of tissue, called the genital tubercle. Early on in fetal development, this genital tubercle differentiates into either a penis or clitoris depending on how much of the hormone androgen it's exposed to. When a person’s clitoris is larger in size, it's usually because more androgen was secreted to form the sex organs during gestation. While this might impact appearance to a certain extent, it doesn’t typically impact function or sensation, and having a larger-than-average clitoris doesn’t mean you automatically fall outside the “normal” size range (after all, 50 percent of people are going to be bigger than average!).
That said, a small number of people do have clitorises that are large enough to fall outside of “normal” range. The medical term for an enlarged clitoris is clitoromegaly, which may be congenital (meaning from birth) or acquired (meaning sometime after birth). It's typically, though not always, related to excess amounts of androgen present in the body during gestation, infancy, or later in life. Some people with clitoromegaly may be intersex, a word that describes people whose chromosomes, genitals, and other sexual or reproductive characteristics can’t be easily categorized into the male or female binary.
It’s understandable that you might feel embarrassed to ask your health care provider about this, but they’ve heard and seen it all! Depending on your age, it may be time for a gynecological (pelvic) exam if you haven’t received one already. Most pelvic exams start with a conversation between you and your health care provider, giving you a chance to discuss your questions and concerns (fully clothed!) before you undress and get ready for the exam. If you don’t feel comfortable or able to ask your provider, you might consider alternatives such as writing a note on your history form or preparing a private note to be handed to your health care provider before you are examined. It may also be helpful to practice what you want to say in advance, which could go something like this: "I am worried about something. I'm nervous to bring it up, but I am concerned about the size of my clitoris. I'm worried it's too big." Alerting your health care provider will give them a chance to address your fears as well as examine your anatomy, if needed. Chances are, you're well within “normal” range, and even if you’re not, your provider will be able to provide you with additional information.
Hopefully this response gives you some peace of mind. There is no shame in the way your body looks, and you deserve to feel comfortable in the skin you’re in!
Originally published Feb 08, 2002
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