An Asexual’s Guide To … Anatomy

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While working on the “Asexual’s Guide To …” series, I realized that it would be helpful to give an overview of anatomy, so that all readers will have a common reference point.  (Even those readers who slept through or skipped out on their eighth grade sex-ed class…)  Not an overview of general anatomy, mind you.  I’m not going to talk about your philtrum or your medial phalanges here.  Specifically, I’m going to act as the tour guide as we travel to the points of interest found in the land of genitalia, along with other potentially erogenous zones.

This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive review of reproductive biology.  There are other sites about all that stuff.  Here, I’m going to focus mostly on what you can see and touch and what’s relevant to the rest of the series.  (By the way, if you’re not already familiar with what’s downstairs, and if you’re able to safely and comfortably do so, I encourage you actually look at and touch the bits and pieces you own as we go along.  You might even want to get a mirror to get a look at the harder to see bits.  It’s your body, so you might as well know where things are on it.  But if you’d rather not, that’s perfectly okay, too.)

Since asexuality has no physical effects, there’s nothing specific about asexuality that’s going to be discussed in this post.  So, if you already know your way around the land down under, you can skip this without worrying about missing out on anything.

And finally, I’m going to write this talking to “you” in the second person.  That does not necessarily imply that you actually do have all of the pieces and parts that I’m going to talk about.

A Few Notes Before We Begin

These are just a few things I’d like to get out of the way before continuing with the tour.

  • Don’t worry about the size or shape of your genitals or any other part of your body.  You’re not in competition with anyone else.  Most people aren’t going to care about your endowments.  There isn’t going to be a day where everyone with a short cock or flat chest is going to be rounded up and kicked off the island.  Fretting over matters of size will get you nowhere.  There’s always going to be someone bigger than you and there’s always going to be someone smaller than you, so it’s best to be comfortable with where you are and not worry about measuring up to others.
  • Porn lies to you.  I’m not saying that as some kind of moral stand against pornography.  I’m saying it as objective truth.  Many performers in porn are in porn specifically because they’re several standard deviations away from most other people.  Comparing your body to people in porn is a bit like trying to determine whether or not you’re in good shape by comparing yourself to a Super Bowl Quarterback.  It’s very unfortunate that the most readily available source of anatomical references is pornography.
  • If it hurts, STOP.  Nothing I mention should be the source of pain.  If something does hurt, you’re either doing it wrong or you should consult a doctor about the pain.
  • If you have any questions whether something is “normal” or if you think that something may be a sign of some medical condition, talk to a doctor.  This is just an article by some random guy on the Internet who has absolutely no medical training (I didn’t even take high school biology), and should not be considered an accurate and reliable source of medical information.  If in doubt, get it checked out.  It could save your life.
  • And most importantly, please remain seated and keep your hands and arms inside the car until the ride comes to a full and complete stop.

I’ve stuck most of the content on separate pages, so you don’t have to scroll around the page to find what applies to you.

An Asexual’s Guide To … Male Anatomy  (For most men, most boys, and anyone else who happens to have a penis.)

An Asexual’s Guide To … Female Anatomy (For most women, most girls, and anyone else who happens to have a clitoris and/or vagina.)

But wait!  There’s more!

So, while most people fit into nice, orderly buckets of “female bodied” or “male bodied”, not everyone does.  Some intersex people are born with ambiguous genitalia, that is, genitals that do not fit into the preconceived notions regarding how large a clitoris or penis should be.  Unfortunately, intersex infants are often subjected to “corrective” genital surgery because of this.  Some transgender people choose to physically transition in order to make their physical sex match their gender.  This can involve surgery or hormones to change the body.

Unfortunately, it would be impossible for me to go into detail about all of these possible variations of anatomical configuration here.  In many cases, there will be enough similarities between your body and what’s described in the sections above to be helpful.  However, if you are intersex or are transitioning, there’s a very good chance that you know more about your anatomy than I could ever teach you, anyway.  For the rest of you who are merely curious about these cases, there are other, more specific resources out there that can give you the information you want.

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An Asexual’s Guide To … Female Anatomy

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(For most women, most girls, and anyone else who happens to have a clitoris and/or vagina.)

Between your legs, right where they meet your body, you’ll encounter a kinda squishy area that’s full of folds of skin and flaps of various sizes.  That area is your vulva, and that’s where we’ll start our tour.  Contained within are a number of points of interest.  Sometimes the whole area is mistakenly called the vagina, but that is actually just one of many things in the area.

First, you’ll encounter the flaps of skin known as the labia.  These act as a sort of covering for everything else that’s down there.  The thicker outer lips are called the labia majora, while the thinner inner lips are the labia minora.  They vary in shape and size from person to person.  Yours may be small and tuck themselves away between the outer folds of skin or yours may be large flaps of skin that stick out or yours may be somewhere in between.  In many cases, one side might be larger than the other, and the thickness of the ridge may not be the same for the entire length.  The labia are often a different color than the rest of the skin in the area.

If you venture between the labia, you’ll find a tunnel leading inward.  This is the vagina, also sometimes called the “pussy”.  It probably feels somewhat smooth and slimy, and is a bit stretchy.  Should you ever find yourself pregnant, the vagina was likely involved in that process somehow, and will likely be involved when the baby decides it’s time to get out and face the world.  At the far end of your vagina is your uterus, also known as “Aunt Flo’s Apartment”, where she lives and prepares for her monthly visits.

Along the forward wall of the vagina, several inches in, you may encounter an area that’s slightly harder and ridged.  This is known as the G-spot.  Although you may be touching it right this very second, many scientists (most of whom do not have a vagina) continue to debate its existence.

As you turn around and exit the vagina, you may come across an elastic ring of skin surrounding the outer opening.  Or you may not.  Either way, this is called the hymen and has absolutely no bearing on who you are or how you’ve lived your life, despite what other misguided people may claim.  The hymen has no practical use, and, if it’s even noticed at all, it’s largely known for being a painful nuisance if you choose to put anything inside your vagina.  In rare cases, the hymen covers the opening of the vagina, a condition that typically requires medical attention.

Okay, now that you’re back on the surface, head toward the front of your body, but stay between the labia.  Where the two sides of the labia come together, you’ll find a nubby thing hiding up there.  That’s your clitoris.  It’s probably not as prominent as some of the other bits and pieces around.  In some cases, people may not even know it’s down there until someone points it out.  However, it’s actually one of the most important bits down there and is usually well worth making friends with.

The size of the clitoris can vary greatly from person to person.  Yours may be the size of a grain of rice or may be two inches long.  The size of your clitoris has very little effect on what can be done with it.  Sometimes, the clitoris may change size and get harder.  This is called an erection.

Surrounding it is a loose bit of skin known as the clitoral hood.  In many cases, your clitoris is a bit shy and will often hide underneath the hood, only occasionally peeking out now and then.  The bit of the clit that sticks out on the surface is called the glans.  Under the surface, your clitoris has two legs which extend back and reach alongside the vagina.

In between the vagina and the clitoris, you may have come across a small lump with a hole in it, somewhere in the smooth skin that’s down there.  That hole is your urethra, and it’s where pee comes out.  Pee does not come from the vagina, unlike what some people believe.  Furthermore, some people (people who have not taken this tour or have not consulted a road map of the area) may confuse the urethra with the clitoris.  Let me tell you, that’s just a recipe for disappointment.

Let’s head outside and take a look back at the vulva as a whole.  You may have noticed a forest of short, curly hairs surrounding the area.  These are pubic hairs, also known as the “bush”.  The area that they cover and their density varies greatly from person to person.  For some people, the hair is limited to a small area immediately outside the labia.  In others, the hair will live around the vulva as well as in a tuft on the mound that sits in front of the vulva.   In still others, the hair is thickest around the vulva and the mound, but may spread upward and start a colony around the navel.  Sometimes the color of pubic hair may not match the color of the hair elsewhere on your body.  In some cases, people shave some or all of this hair away for various reasons.   According to scientists, the only known purpose of pubic hair is to be particularly repulsive when found in a hotel room.

If you travel back from the vulva, you’ll encounter another hole.  This one is known as the anus, and it’s where poop comes out.  There isn’t much else here, so let’s keep moving.

We’re now leaving the lower reaches and heading up to your chest.  On your chest, you’ll probably find a pair of small nubs of skin, known as nipples.  The nipples may be surrounded by round bits of darker skin, which may or may not have hairs protruding from it.  Occasionally, the nipples will tighten up and get harder and stick out.

In many cases, the nipples live on squishy bags of fat called breasts, also known as “boobs” or “tits”.  Your breasts may range in size from completely flat to protruding a foot from the surface of your chest. While they occasionally provide food for babies, most of the time, the breasts have no practical use and may just be in the way.  Despite their general lack of utility, they are inexplicably one of the most obsessed about body parts.

It is, however, not obsessive to learn how to give yourself a breast self exam.  A breast self exam will check for lumps that may be related to breast cancer.  (Just do an Internet search for instructions.  The phrase “breast self exam” generally leads to a fairly safe, medically oriented set of results.)

This concludes the tour.

(You will notice that the tour did not stop at the magic orgasm button.  That’s because there’s no such place.  If you want an orgasm, you’re going to have to work for it.  More on that later.)

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An Asexual’s Guide To … Male Anatomy

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(For most men, most boys, and anyone else who happens to have a penis.)

The most prominent part of the male anatomy is the penis.  Know that floppy, dangly, tube-shaped thing at the top of your legs?  The thing you pee out of.  That’s your penis.  It’s also known as “cock”, “dick”, “member”, “johnson”, and about 247,000 other slang terms of varying vulgarity, popularity, and descriptive inaccuracy.  Sometimes the penis will stop being floppy and dangly and will instead get stiff and stand up, which is called an erection, or “hard-on” or “boner”.  The penis has a number of components and points of interest that I want to mention, but let’s continue the tour and come back to them later.

Behind the penis is a lumpy bag.  This bag is called the scrotum and the lumps inside it are the testicles.  This part is also known as the “balls”, “nuts”, or “that thing that really really hurt and was sore for days when I accidentally got hit there that one time in PE”.  There are typically two testicles in the scrotum.  Sometimes the testicles dangle and sometimes they hug the body.  When they dangle, it’s common for one to hang lower than the other.  If you feel the scrotum, you should be able to feel both testicles, as well as a series of tubes connected to them.  In many cases, the word “testicles” is used to refer to both the testicles and the scrotum.

Many testicle owners are afraid of handling them, since they have a reputation for being very sensitive and causing a lot of pain when injured.  The truth is that you can often handle them quite safely.  Just be gentle and work up from there until you find your limit.  And handle them you should!  If you’re a testicle owner, you should periodically conduct a testicular self exam for lumps that may be related to testicular cancer.  (Just do an Internet search for instructions.  The phrase “testicular self exam” generally leads to a fairly safe, medically oriented set of results.)

While you’re down in this area, you may have noticed a forest of short, curly hairs.  These are pubic hairs, also known as the “bush”.  The area that they cover and their density varies greatly from person to person.  For some people, the patch of hair starts at the shoulders and stretches uninterrupted all the way down to the feet.  For others, the hair is limited to the area immediately around the base of the penis and testicles.  In still others, the hair is thickest around the penis and testicles, but may spread upward and start a colony around the navel.  The testicles are usually covered in hair, while the penis is typically hair free beyond a certain elevation.  Sometimes the color of pubic hair may not match the color of the hair elsewhere on your body.  In some cases, people shave some or all of this hair away for various reasons.  According to scientists, the only known purpose of pubic hair is to be particularly repulsive when found in a shower.

As you travel further back, between the legs and behind the testicles, you arrive at a  long, fairly featureless stretch, called the perineum, sometimes also called the “taint”.  On the surface, the most prominent landmark is the fold of skin in the middle, that looks like a sealed up seam, known as the raphe.  If you trace this seam forward, you’ll find that it continues along the bottom of your scrotum and keeps going up to the tip of your penis.  If you trace it backwards, you’ll find that it ends at your anus (which is our next stop).

The perineum is most notable for what lies beneath the surface.  The structure of the penis continues into the body underneath the perineum.  When you have an erection, the part of the penis located under the perineum also becomes hard, and you can feel it through the skin.  Also, if you press inward, into the soft area just in front of your anus, you may be able to feel your prostate (Although more on that later).

The anus is as far back as we’re going to go on this trip.  It’s the hole in your butt where poop comes out.  Strangely, this area is also home to a notable point of interest, called the prostate.  It takes a bit of spelunking to get to, though, so not everyone may wish to take this part of the trip.  (If you plan venturing inside to find your prostate, be sure to clip your nails first, wear a rubber glove if you’ve got one, and use some form of lube, or else your trip will likely be short and even more unpleasant than it already is.)  To find the prostate, venture a few inches inside and start pressing against the forward wall, as if you’re curving your finger to point at your belly button.  You should find a hard, kinda roundish lump on the other side of the wall.

Okay, now, enough of that.  Go wash your hands.  Thoroughly.

Our tour now leaves the lower reaches and travels up, onto your chest.  There you will likely find two nipples, one on each side.  The nipples are largely pointless little nubs of skin that typically are surrounded by darker discs of skin which may of may not have hair growing out of them.  Sometimes the nipples will get slightly hard and stick out.  Most people regard nipples on the male body to be some sort of cosmic joke, although they do have some limited utility that I’ll get into in a later post.

Okay, let’s get back to the penis.  Remember where it was?  Good.

The part that’s sorta long and tube shaped and fairly smooth is called the shaft.  The mushroom shaped squishy bit at the end is called the head or the glans.  The ridge where the shaft connects to the glans is called the corona.  The hole that pee comes out of, probably near the tip of your penis, is called the urethra.  (Other stuff comes out of there, too, but more on that later.)  The rest of the urethra is a tube that runs along the lower side of your penis, and may become more pronounced when you have an erection.  Also on the lower side, there may be a band of skin that connects the shaft and the glans, called the frenulum.

You may have a turtleneck sweater-like bit of skin at the end of your penis, which probably covers all or most of the head when you’re soft.  This is called the foreskin.  The foreskin is usually pretty loose and can slide back and forth along your penis.  It can be pulled back to expose the head (which often happens naturally when you have one of those erection things I mentioned earlier), or it can be pushed forward, past the tip of the head.  (I’ll cover what’s likely to happen if you repeat that pull and push motion over and over in a later post…)  If you don’t have that turtleneck sweater bit, don’t worry, that’s fairly common, too.  It was probably just cut off and thrown away when you were a baby, in a process called circumcision.  If you’re circumcised, there may be a ring scar that circles your penis.  The skin on one side of the scar might be smooth and thin, while the skin on the other side might be rougher and thicker and a different color.  There are many styles of circumcision, so it’s possible that you may not have a visible scar and that the smooth skin continues all the way to the head.  Some circumcisions even eliminate the frenulum.

Penises come in many different shapes and sizes.  The size of your penis has very little effect on what can be done with it.  Often, a two-inch penis is just as useful as one that’s nine inches. The one you have probably even changes shape and size every once in a while.  If you’re naked and cold, it’ll probably shrink and hide all close to your body.  If it’s warm, it’ll probably hang lower.  Sometimes, it’ll get wider, longer, and harder, and may stand up on its own.  This is called an erection, and occurs when the spongy inner bits of your penis fill with blood. The size of an erect penis does not necessarily indicate how small you’ll be when you’re soft.

When you’re soft, your penis is floppy and can easily move and twist in any direction.  When you’re hard with an erection, the movement of your penis is greatly restricted.  (This has probably been known to cause a great many frustrating mornings, when you wake up with both a full bladder and a hard-on…)

Don’t worry if your penis isn’t a perfectly straight, perfectly symmetrical cylinder.  Your erect penis may have a curve to it.  It may lean one direction or the other, it might stick up, it might stick out, or it might stick down.  There may be a slight twist to it.  Veins may crisscross the shaft at all angles.  And the whole thing may be lopsided in places.  That’s all normal, every penis is unique.  (In some extreme cases, the foreskin might not retract right or the circumcision might be too tight or the frenulum might be too short or something else could be wrong that causes a very sharp bend.  In those cases, surgical intervention is often a possibility.)

This concludes the tour.

(You will notice that the tour did not stop at the magic orgasm button.  That’s because there’s no such place.  If you want an orgasm, you’re going to have to work for it.  More on that later.)

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