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Closing gaps in knowledge about the female body

Anatomical representation of the bulboclitoral organ

Precise depiction of gender-specific female anatomical structures and their functions

Stuttgart/New York, March 2023 – The specific structures and functions of the external female genital organs are not widely known in detail, even among experts. Ignorance or incomplete knowledge on the part of health care professionals can lead to women and girls not being treated according to their needs. The current revision of the THIEME Atlas of Anatomy, the fourth edition of which will be published in 2024, therefore focuses on an even more precise depiction of gender-specific female anatomical structures. The instructional units on the external female genital organs have been completely redesigned. They are already available digitally in the MedOne Education learning and knowledge platform.

The new instructional unit "Location, Structure and Innervation of the Bulbo-clitoral Organ" provides in-depth insights into the structures and functioning of the external female genitalia, in particular the bulbo-clitoral organ.

In addition to the functions directly necessary for reproduction, medical and allied health students also learn where and how female desire arises. This topic has received little attention in the literature in the past. "In fact, most women cannot reach orgasm through penile-vaginal intercourse alone. They need additional stimulation of their clitoris for this," explains Prof. Dr. Daniel Haag-Wackernagel. The Swiss emeritus professor of biology in medicine is the leading expert in the German-speaking world on the anatomy of the bulbo-clitoral organ. His expertise has been incorporated into the new instructional units.

This detailed knowledge is particularly valuable in the surgical reconstruction of the external female genitalia, for example after genital mutilation, as is still practiced in some cultures today. A comprehensive knowledge of the anatomy of the bulbo-clitoral organ is essential in the context of surgical reconstruction of the organ. The instructional unit "Circumcision Forms and Vulvar Reconstruction" teaches the relevant principles.

This knowledge is also relevant in the field of genital plastic surgery; for example, in the reduction of the very intensely innervated inner labia minor, or also in liposuction in the genital area. When the mons pubis is suctioned, the dorsal clitoral nerves can be injured because many surgeons are not aware of how superficially these nerves, which are so crucial for the sensation of pleasure, are located.

Extensive knowledge of the bulbo-clitoral organ is also of central importance in gynecology and obstetrics. The clitoris with its nerves and vessels can be injured during the birth of a child – or the bulbs of the vestibule can tear due to the pressure of the blood filling them, and this can lead to hemorrhages in the labia major. "What exactly can happen is unclear to many doctors," fears Prof. Dr. Michael Schünke, who was in charge of developing the new instructional units.

"I am convinced that the detailed illustrations in the THIEME Atlas of Anatomy will contribute significantly to anchoring this previously neglected knowledge in the coming generations of medical professionals," explains Prof. Dr. Haag-Wackernagel. "It is important – medically and socially!"

Schuenke M, Schulte E, Schumacher U, THIEME Atlas of Anatomy, illustrated by Voll M und Wesker K, 4th Edition. New York: Thieme; 2024

MedOne Education Female Anatomy Units

MedOne Education