November 10, 2022 – Jill Crabbe’s patients are often too embarrassed to tell her about her clitoral discomfort.
“I ask all of my patients about clitoral pain, and it’s often the first time they’ve been asked about it,” says Krapf, MD, associate director of the Center for Vulvar and Vaginal Disorders, a private clinic in Washington, D.C., and New York City.
Krapf is an obstetrician and gynecologist who specializes in female sexual pain involving the pelvis, vagina and vulva.
Many of the conditions that Krapf treats don’t have outward-looking symptoms, but internally, there are damaged or irritated nerves that can lead to hypersensitivity, unwanted awakenings, or pain.
“The latest research suggests that even a herniated or ruptured disc in the spine can lead to clitoral or vulvar symptoms, just as sciatica pain that radiates down the leg and is associated with spinal problems,” says Krapp.
Krapp was excited to read a new discovery: the clitoris contains more than 10,000 nerve fibers—more than 2,000. Previously mentioned In 1976 – a medical breakthrough for a part of the body often neglected by the scientific field. Krapf and other doctors hope that paying attention to the clitoris will lead to more interest and comprehensive education among people in their field. They also hope to enable patients to seek medical help if they are experiencing problems with the clitoris.
“Female sexual health throughout history has been underfunded, especially compared to male sexual health, such as erectile dysfunction,” says Crabbe. “Improving vulvar and vaginal health is not only essential to sexual well-being.”
Blair Peters, MD, a plastic surgeon specializing in gender affirmation care, led studyPresented at the North American Society for Sexual Medicine conference in October. Peters says he hopes the new information will reduce the stigma that the clitoris does not deserve the same medical attention other parts of the body receive.
When the clitoris does not function properly, there can be damage to a person’s physical and mental health. Paying attention to clitoral discomfort and seeking medical attention can help detect and prevent some urinary and vaginal infections.
“The fact that it took until 2022 for someone to do this work speaks volumes about how little attention the clitoris has received,” says Peters, MD, associate professor of surgery at the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine in Portland, Oregon.
What is inside?
Peters and colleagues completed the study by taking clitoral tissue from seven adult transgender men who underwent surgery to confirm their reproductive sex. The tissue was stained and magnified 1,000 times under a microscope so the researchers could count nerve fibers.
Peters says the finding is important because many surgeries take place in the groin area — such as hip replacements, vulvar cuts during childbirth, and pelvic mesh procedures — and renewed interest in the clitoris may help health care providers know where the nerves are so that medical injuries and errors can be prevented.
“Nerves are at risk of damage if their whereabouts are not understood at all times,” he says.
Peters hopes the new discovery will help create new surgical techniques to repair nerves and provide insight into sex-confirmation phalloplasty, the often surgical construction of the penis for people navigating masculinity.
body part ownership
If you have a heart problem, see a cardiologist. Brain problem, neuroscientist. But when it comes to the clitoris, there is no doctor who specializes in the sexual organ.
Urologists, gynecologists, plastic surgeons, and sex therapists treat potential problems that can arise with the clitoris and the parts of the body around it. But specialists like Krapf are few and far between.
It wasn’t until 2005 when Australian urologist Helen O’Connell found that the clitoris is full of erectile and non-erectile tissue that is often hidden in dissection drawings by fat and bone. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that researchers began delving seriously into the anatomy of the clitoris and how it works.
and Study 2018 He showed that if more doctors examined the clitoris, they could identify problems such as adhesions or infections in the area, most of which could be treated without surgery.
Part of the body built for fun
Randy Levinson, a sex, marriage, and family therapist in Los Angeles, sees patients who have less clitoral sensation or pain during sex, many of whom were recently born or going through menopause.
Women often feel embarrassed when they can’t reach an orgasm, or have less clitoral sensation, but they tend to avoid seeking medical advice, she says. Normalizing discussions about women’s pleasure and the broad anatomy that underpins it may help some of her patients.
“The more natural it is to talk about and explore a woman’s pleasure, the less shame women feel about getting help when they don’t feel pleasure,” Levinson says. “I have many… clients who experience pain and discomfort during sex [after pregnancy] She is no longer happy and worried that something is wrong with them.”
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