Recently I have been thinking, both the glans penis and the clitoris are the most sensitive parts of the body. They contain a lot of nerve endings. Do hermaphrodites share the nerve fibres between the two organs, or do they have double the regular amount of nerve fibers?

Also, at which point does their nerve branch out? Do they have two sets of dorsal genital nerves coming out of the pudendal nerve or does the same set of dorsal genital nerve go into both organs?


1 Answer 1


Short answer
The genitals of true intersex individuals are not duplicated. Instead, their external genital features are hybrid structures. In turn, it's not a matter of duplicated neural innervations.

Hermaphroditic phenotypes in humans are nowadays preferably described as intersex phenotypes. In humans they come in different flavors, dependent on the underlying genetic causes, which are often caused by mosaics of X and Y chromosomes. Dependent on the exact genetic underpinnings, various types of intersex phenotypes occur, with different internal and external phenotypes of the reproductive tracts.

To proceed to the most extreme case, namely the true intersex individuals - these people display both male and female external genital tissues. However, this doesn't mean they have fully developed male as well as female genitals.

Now taking a step back to the normal male/female situation - you have to realize the clitoris and glans penis develop from the same tissue (Fig. 1). In true hermaphrodites, the external genitalia are not duplicated, instead they form a hybrid, where it becomes unclear what exactly is present: a small (glans) penis, or an outsized clitoris (Fig. 2).

So in all it is not a matter of duplication, but a hybridization of similar feats.

Fig. 1. Male and female genital development. source: University of the Cumberlands


Fig. 2. Intersex external reproductive organs. source: ImageSlideShare

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Hi, Thx for the answer and the edit. That also explains why a quick google search was unhelpful. Searching for "Intersex" revealed the required info much more quickly. $\endgroup$
    – Spero
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 10:45

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