Anatomical relationship between urethra and clitoris

J Urol. 1998 Jun;159(6):1892-7. doi: 10.1016/S0022-5347(01)63188-4.


Purpose: We investigated the anatomical relationship between the urethra and the surrounding erectile tissue, and reviewed the appropriateness of the current nomenclature used to describe this anatomy.

Materials and methods: A detailed dissection was performed on 2 fresh and 8 fixed human female adult cadavers (age range 22 to 88 years). The relationship of the urethra to the surrounding erectile tissue was ascertained in each specimen, and the erectile tissue arrangement was determined and compared to standard anatomical descriptions. Nerves supplying the erectile tissue were carefully preserved and their relationship to the soft tissues and bony pelvis was noted.

Results: The female urethra, distal vaginal wall and erectile tissue are packed into the perineum caudal (superficial) to the pubic arch, which is bounded laterally by the ischiopubic rami, and superficially by the labia minora and majora. This complex is not flat against the rami as is commonly depicted but projects from the bony landmarks for 3 to 6 cm. The perineal urethra is embedded in the anterior vaginal wall and is surrounded by erectile tissue in all directions except posteriorly where it relates to the vaginal wall. The bulbs of the vestibule are inappropriately named as they directly relate to the other clitoral components and the urethra. Their association with the vestibule is inconsistent and, thus, we recommend that these structures be renamed the bulbs of the clitoris.

Conclusions: A series of detailed dissections suggest that current anatomical descriptions of female human urethral and genital anatomy are inaccurate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cadaver
  • Clitoris / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Urethra / anatomy & histology*