Savage Love

I'm a straight woman who hasn't had sex in five years. Why? Because every time I get close to a guy, he's shocked by the large size of my clit. I get, "What is that down there?" "It looks like a mini-penis," and "I wasn't sure what to think—guy or girl." Is there anything I can do? Surgery? I live in Canada so I'm hoping our health-care system thinks this is as emotionally distressing as I do. Please help. I just want to have sex again and feel normal.

Big Clit

Big clits, small clits, red clits, blue clits—they're all outside my area of expertise, BC, so I shared your letter with Alice Dreger, a medical humanities and bioethics faculty at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. Dreger has worked as a patient advocate for people born with "different-than-average sex anatomies" for a decade, and she has tons of good advice for the differently clitted. (She also has a website: www.alicedreger.com.)

"Just like penises and breasts and noses come in different shapes and sizes, so do clits," Dreger said. "Study after study keeps showing the same thing: Clits naturally vary a lot more than those diagrams on gynecologists' walls lead you to believe."

Unfortunately, not everyone has gotten the memo—from your sex partners, BC, to the medical establishment.

"Lots of docs will be happy to operate on you," Dreger continued. "Will the Canadian health-care system pay for it? Maybe. Should you get surgery? I wouldn't in a million years, knowing what I know. Many women who have had clitoral-reduction surgery as children and as adults report diminished sexual sensation. Think about it, it only makes sense: You cut into a really sensitive organ, and you're messing with sensation. Take parts off, take sensation away. Worse yet, some women who have had this surgery report short-term or lifelong genital pain."

If that's not enough to dissuade you, BC, consider this: Most of the surgeons out there hacking away at different-than-average clits don't know much about clitoral geography. "They've finally started confessing this in the medical meetings I attend," said Dreger. "For example, the nerves turn out to be in different places than most of them thought. Oops! And most of them don't know that most women masturbate by rubbing the shaft of the clit—which is kind of like how most men masturbate, by rubbing the shaft of their penises. Meanwhile the shaft is what surgeons typically remove, thinking only the glans (the nubbin at the tip) is what's important. Oops again!" And women who get the surgery don't wind up feeling "normal," Dreger added. "A recent study showed that, in fact, surgery cemented their feeling of being 'different' while interfering with genital sensation." (You can read more about that study at www.isna.org/node/1039.)

So what should you do?

"First off, know this clit is normal for you," said Dreger. "If it gives you sexual pleasure, don't mess with it! Second, learn to prepare your sex partners for what they're going to find when they head south. Explain what I did at the start—clits, like penises, vary in size, and you were blessed with a clit that makes it easy for guys to find." And while some guys will appreciate your big clit for its easy-to-locate quality, BC, others will appreciate your big clit for its sheer big clittedness. "I've had a number of straight women ask me how they can grow their clits bigger, because they and their mates are turned on by the idea. The notion that all men like petite clits is just plain wrong. (And the answer to 'can I grow my clit bigger' is yes, with testosterone, but you should be prepared for systemic masculinizing effects and medical risks.)" (Proof that some men love big clits can be found at www.MyBigClit.com, which is "not safe for work," as the kids say—and not safe at any time, day or night, for squeamish faggots.)

One last word from Dreger: "There's a small chance that your big clit signals some underlying medical concern. Big clits don't cause any medical problems, but they can be a sign that something is up, something like adrenal hyperplasia. If you are having menstrual problems or other unexplained medical issues, talk to a trusted doctor."

I'm 25 and have been with my 27-year-old boyfriend for five years. After a night of heavy drinking, we were talking to another couple (both 26, our friends for two years) about threesomes. The other couple invited us back to their place. We had some fun, mainly oral, and then the other couple decided it was time to "swap." So the guy and I went in another room and we ended up having vaginal sex. When the girl found out she was furious. My boyfriend was also upset.

Now, my boyfriend and I didn't set clear boundaries, but I assumed the other couple had since they initiated the foursome. I betrayed my boyfriend and I will work on that. But the thing is, I resent the girl thinking I betrayed her. I feel that I shouldn't be responsible for crossing the line with the other girl, because she was into the foursome and her boyfriend initiated the sex, so I assumed she was okay with it. I want your opinion. Did I betray the girl too?

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