Patients are undergoing clitoral enlargement surgery but the benefits remain uncertain, prompting the need for more research

By Claire Wolters | Fact-checked by Davi Sherman
Published April 20, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Clitoral enlargement surgery increases the size of the clitoris, and some patients believe it could increase sexual pleasure. But this pleasure isn’t promised, nor is the procedure risk-free.

  • It is important for doctors to discuss knowns and unknowns with patients considering this procedure.

Some people are undergoing clitoral enlargement surgery to (presumably) enhance their sexual pleasure.

Research on the correlation between clitoris size and sexual pleasure is inconsistent. While some studies suggest that there is a positive correlation between larger clitorises and the ability to orgasm, other research suggests that clitoral size does not correlate with increased sexual pleasure. Some researchers believe that clitoral enlargement may lead to decreased sensitivity and function.[]

One such study examined 208 healthy women and asked them about their sexual experience, including questions about pleasure, pain, and arousal when it came to sex. Based on their answers, they were divided into two groups, those facing sexual dysfunction and those not. Measurements of their genitals were then taken. Though there was a range in size, no correlation between larger genitals and more sexual pleasure was found.

Yet patients who have undergone clitoral enlargement are adamant that it works and that it’s worth it. Following surgery, one patient experienced a visible half-inch of clitoral growth and later experienced an eight-minute orgasm, according to BuzzFeed News.

Here’s what to know about the trending procedure and how to talk to your patients who express interest in related risks and benefits.

What is clitoral enlargement?

Clitoral enlargement is a procedure to make the clitoris bigger. Enlargement can be achieved through taking hormones, getting clitoral injections, and/or undergoing surgery.

Clitoral enlargement surgery may be the newest and rarest of these options—and exactly how the surgery is performed can vary from patient to patient and surgeon to surgeon. Among other methods, procedures can include tissue rearrangements, filler injections, or cartilage implantation, according to Los Angeles Plastic Surgery

One reason someone may alter their genitals is to change the appearance of them. According to one study, some intersex adults underwent genital surgery to find unsatisfactory results, one woman noted the surgery made her feel "different" than others, while another woman noted pain after the surgery.[][]

Some surgeons may also surgically enlarge the clitoris by following a similar method to that used in metoidioplasty, a genital reconstructive surgery for transgender men. Both the clitoral glans and the head of a penis derive from the same tissue, which may explain the similarity in these surgeries. Enlarging the clitoris via metoidioplasty involves cutting the suspensory ligament between the clitoris and pubic bone to lengthen and thus enlarge the visible part of the clitoris, BuzzFeed reported.[]

Such procedures can take several hours to complete and cost thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. They are typically not covered by insurance.

In addition to or instead of undergoing surgery, some patients take testosterone or a steroid called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), or they inject hyaluronic acid into their clitoral glans to plump things up. Some of these treatments are administered by doctors, while others can be administered at home without doctor guidance, surgeons told BuzzFeed.

The female orgasm is rare

Sometimes referred to as the “orgasm gap,” studies show that people with vaginas experience far fewer orgasms than people with penises in heterosexual relationships. And because orgasm is more likely to be achieved via clitoral stimulation than penetrative sex alone, it is understandable that some are willing to see whether clitoral enlargement might increase their sexual pleasure.[]

Are clitoral enlargement procedures worth it?

Some patients desire clitoral enlargement because they believe the procedure will increase sexual pleasure. But some doctors warn against the surgery for that very reason.

There is not enough evidence to show that the procedure actually increases orgasm potential, and the long term effects—including potential nerve damage and decreased sexual function—have yet to be evaluated, Leah Millheise, MD and professor of obstetrics and gynecology, told BuzzFeed. Additionally, some doctors warn that there are risks associated with using steroids that contain or mimic testosterone. Procedures may also lead to scarring, reduced sensation, or unknown complications.

However, not all patients seek clitoral enlargement for pleasure. Some are lured by aesthetic reasons, saying they like the look of their vagina with a bigger clitoris or that the increase in size makes it easier for their partner to locate during sex, according to BuzzFeed.

Talking to patients about clitoral enhancements

As with any elective cosmetic procedure, it is important to discuss risks and benefits with patients before they decide to undergo a clitoral enlargement procedure. Because clitoral enlargement surgery is still relatively rare, discussing unknown and documented risks can be important. Make sure your patient knows that they are taking a chance on potentially intense orgasms and sexual sensations, but they are also taking a chance on potential nerve damage or decreased sexual function. Ultimately, it is the patient’s decision to seek out a clitoral enlargement. 

What this means for you

Clitoral enlargement surgery changes the appearance of the clitoris by enhancing size and visibility and may also increase sensitivity and sexual pleasure. More research is needed to affirm the benefits and risks of the surgery, so it is important for doctors to discuss knowns and unknowns with patients.

Share with emailShare to FacebookShare to LinkedInShare to Twitter