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Female Anatomy 101

by Dr. Barb DePree MD

Writing for my gynecologist friend has included a lot of Aha! moments. I admit some of this learning makes me blush. It's not just because I blush when talking about sex—though I do. It's because I’m embarrassed when I’m caught not knowing things I think I should have known a long, long time ago.

So, I’m reading along in Dr. Barb’s enormous textbooks on female sexuality, when I come across an illustration of the clitoris, sort of like the one below. I nearly passed it over, because, what’s to know at my age? I've lived with this equipment for 50 years. I'd like to think I know my way around it.

But this illustration colored in the entire structure of the clitoris. Not just the glans, but also the shaft and the crus clitoris, or crura.

Excuse me… the shaft?... and the crura?

No.. please picture me picking my head up like a prairie dog, looking around my office, and asking the air...

“The shaft?!"

"And the crura!?!”

Somehow in all my curious, bookish, research-happy past, I never learned more about the clitoris than about the little buttonthe glansthe part that sticks out from the prepuce at the top of the labia.

Who knew my clitoris had legs? And a shaft, even?

But yes, indeed. It's practically a little penis under that hood. With long, long legs that extend waaay back toward the perineum, which fill with blood when I’m aroused.

Now, of course, the cool, rational part of my mind tells me I have enjoyed my crura—and possibly even the shaft—because they’ve been there all along. But I would have liked to know about them from the start. I can’t help but wish for a few years back in which I could quite clearly visualize my long, leggy crura.

What can we do with this information? Well, with age, the clitoris loses some sensitivity. We may find it useful to use warming oils and gels or vibrating sex aids to increase stimulation to the clitoris as we prepare for or engage in sex.

And of course, to do that, it really does help to know where it is.

Back to the books...


  • At the age of 76, I have recently “discovered” the joy and satisfaction of masturbation. Although I had to convince myself that it was okay to stimulate myself (I’ve been happily married for 53 years, but since my husband had surgery for prostate cancer, he has not been able to achieve an erection), I finally consulted my wonderful APRN who prescribed getting a personal vibrator. Now I’m reading more about the benefits to my health, physically and mentally, by using a vibrator – and enjoying a new, unexpected sense of sexuality that I’ve never had. Happily for younger women, the subject is open for discussion – wish it hadn’t taken so many years for me, and probably for many women of my age. I will read Joan Price’s book.

    M.H. on

  • Thanks very much. I love that illustration of the clitotris. At 63, I need my sensation back.

    JC on

  • Yes, the clitoris is comprised of the same basic cells that grow into a penis in a male fetus.

    J on

  • I love this informative post, so useful to our age group and those who love us!

    I just blogged about this post at I hope it was OK to republish the diagram with it.

    Joan Price

    Author of Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty

    Join us — we’re talking about ageless sexuality at

    Joan Price on

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