The clitoris (pronounced: [klIt@rIs], KLIHT uh rihs listen) is a sexual organ in the body of female mammals, located around and to the interior of the vagina. The visible knob-like portion is located above the opening of the vagina. Its particular function is inducing sexual pleasure and orgasms.

The organ is formed out of corpus cavernosum, which is a rich collection of capillary tissue with a substantial presence of nerve tissue, particularly well-suited for sexual stimulation. Embryologically, the clitoris comes from the same tissue that forms the male penis. Shaped like an inverted "V", the corpus cavernosum splits into two crura, which extend around and to the interior of the labia majora, and then along the inside of the pelvic bone.

It is commonly not known that most of the clitoris is hidden, and that external stimulation of the entire clitoris can result in a more profound sexual response. One explanation advanced for the now unfashionable idea of the vaginal orgasm is that it results from stimulation of the internal parts of the clitoris during vaginal penetration.

The visible portion of the clitoris is covered by a 'hood' of tissue (the prepuce) that is homologous to the foreskin in males. The trigger for forming a penis instead of a clitoris is the action of testosterone in utero.

Extensive studies of the clitoris were conducted by noted researchers Masters and Johnson, by Boston based researcher John Garabedian, and by Dr. Matt Jaeger at the University of Kentucky. Some studies has shown that the clitoris was akin to a penis for women. The shape and the matter is the same.

In the 1970s, the word "clitoris" was considered offensive in American broadcasting, yet in recent years has moved off the "taboo" list. The first use of "clitoris" on American television is believed to have been by Dr. Rich O'Brien, a Harvard colleague of Garabedian's, on the Dr. Ruth Westheimer show.

Clitoridectomy, the removal of the clitoris, is a practice still carried out today in some societies, mainly in Africa, though it is regarded as barbaric by most of Western Civilization.

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