Clitoral hypertrophy – also known as an oversized, large, or macroclitoris – means an abnormally large clitoris.
Note: This article does not discuss deliberately modified clitorises, those found with female genital body modification (using anabolic steroids and testosterone).
How does a clitoris get so big?
There are several reasons why a clitoris hypertrophies. Some of the most common include hormonal interruptions caused by chromosomal abnormalities. These include complete, partial or mild androgen insensitivity syndrome (CAIS, PAIS, MAIS), congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), or Swyer syndrome, all of which are loosely grouped as a Disorder (or Difference) in Sexual Development (DSD).
Other reasons include certain drugs, tumours, or just because (as in, we don’t know). It is estimated that around one in 10,000 babies have CAH, a major cause of a large clitoris.
A normal clitoris
The usual size of a clitoris is less than 5mm wide and less than 16mm long, with anything over 35mm indicating clitorial hypertrophy.
Treatment for clitoromegaly
There is usually no medical reason to treat clitoromegaly, however it can be desirable for aesthetic reasons – some women don’t like the look of a large clitoris, and it can be removed (amputated) to completely or partially remove it, with new techniques retaining sexual function and the ability to orgasm in most people. You have to carefully weigh up possible risks of a reduction in sexual satisfaction with aesthetics.
A clitorectomy usually results in a normal-looking vulva, and satisfaction from the patient, however while it is generally considered a very safe procedure, it can result in excessive bleeding or worse, permanent nerve damage. Other treatments include hormone therapy, but each person must be evaluated individually since the cause must be established – each treatment for each woman will be different.