Modelling the Clitoris

A little while ago I came across a most enlightening video showing that the heart is, essentially, a tube twisted at each end and then crossed over. I found it amazing that such a complicated but crucial part of our anatomy could have such a simple construction. It explains how the heart could be formed so early in embryonic life. (You don’t need a whole lot of genes specifying every twist and turn, you just need one that says start twisting – and it’s probably not even a gene – it probably twists because one side of the tube is stiffer than the other – one of the delights of mechanobiology.) The anatomist, Gil Hedley who recorded this, has a whole series of short videos on Youtube and I have become a huge fan. He makes you look at the body in a totally new way. Most anatomists cut the body into parts to isolate the parts labelled in textbooks but Gil puts it back together again, emphasising the fact that the body is a whole entity – everything is connected to everything else.

I signed up and watched an amazing video on the clitoris. He said it had taken him getting on for 100 dissections to uncover the full extent of the clitoris.  He recreated what he had found using Plasticine and proceeded to take it apart piece by piece, showing what was joined to what. He showed how the crura morphed into muscle further down the pubic ramus. (Is this the part that contracts during orgasm?) In a nutshell, the whole of that triangle occupying the pubic arch is filled with the most amazing stuff which he terms the ‘pars intima’ – so much gentler a term than ‘genitalia’. Now I want a demonstration of how the pelvic floor fits in, Gil, please! I commented underneath the video, suggesting a role for the clitoris in birth, he got back to me within three hours saying that, yes, many body parts are multifunctional. Will he consider the passing through of a baby’s head? I do hope so!

Gil starts where traditional teaching stops. He’s not content with dissection and labelling structures, he considers the physical properties of the tissue he dissects. His insights about the many and varied manifestations of collagen in fascia have reassured me that my own thinking is along the right lines and has encouraged me to return to an old favourite model of mine: The Womb’s a Balloon. This is the subject of the next post. Thank you Gil for rekindling my passion

find his website at

Look for his videos on YouTube