Cover and account of enlarged clitorises from The Midwives Book (1671)

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Cover and account of enlarged clitorises from The Midwives Book (1671)




Accounts of genital anomaly in North Africa for the instruction of midwives.


Jane Sharp


University of Michigan Library


Simon Miller, the Star at the West End of St. Pauls
Early English Books Online




[no text]


Public domain


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or the whole ART of
Directing Childbearing Women
how to behave themselves
In their Conception, Breeding, Bearing and Nursing of CHILDREN.
In Six Books, Viz
I. An Anatomical Description of the Parts of Men and Women.
II. What is requistie for Procreation: Signes of a Womans being with Child, and whether it be Male of Female, and how the Child is formed in the womb.
III. The causes and hinderance of conception and Barrenness, and of the paines and difficulties of Childbearing with their causes, signes and cures.
IV. Rules to know when a woman is near he labour, and when she is near conception and how to order the Child when born.
V. How to order women in Childbirth, and of several diseases and cures for women in that condition.
VI. Of Diseases incident to women after conception Rules for the choice of a nurse, her office; with proper cures for all diseases Incident to young Children 

By Mrs Jane Sharp Practitioner in the Art of MIDWIFRY above thirty years.

London, Printed for Simon Miller, at the Star at the West End of St. Pauls, 1671.

have no desire nor delight, nor would they ever conceive. Some think that Hermaphro∣dites are only women that have their Cli∣toris greater, and hanging out more than o∣thers have, and so shew like a Mans Yard, and it is so called, for it is a small exube∣ration in the upper, forward, and middle part of the share, in the top of the greater slit where the wings end. It differs from the Yard in length, the common pipe, and the want of one pair of the muscles which the Yard hath, but is the same in place and substance; for it hath two sinewy bodies round, without thick and hard, but inward∣ly spongy and full of holes, or pores, that when the spirits come into it, it may stretch, and when the spirits are dissipated it grows loose again; these sinews as in a Mans Yard, are full of gross black vital blood, they come from both the share-bones and join with the bones of the Hip, they part at first, but join about the joining of the share-bones, and so they make a solid hard body of the Yard; and the end is like the Nut, to which is join∣ed a small muscle on each side. The head of this counterfeit Yard is called Tertigo, and the Wings joining cover it with a fine skin like the foreskin; it hath a hole, but it goes not through, and Vessels run along the back of it as upon a Mans Yard; commonly it is but a small sprout, lying close hid under the Wings, and not easily felt, yet some∣times it grows so long that it hangs forth at the slit like a Yard, and will swell and stand stiff if it be provoked, and some lewd women have endeavoured to use it as men do theirs. In the Indies, and Egypt they are frequent, but I never heard but of one in this Country, if there be any they will do what they can for shame to keep it close.

The Clitoris in Women as it is very small in most, serves for the same purpose as the bridle of the Yard doth, for the womans stones lying far distant from the Mans Yard, the imagination passeth to the spermatical Vessels by the Clitoris moving and the lower ligatures of the Womb, which are joyned to the carrying Vessels of the Seed, so by the stirring of the Clitoris the imagination cau∣seth the Vessels to cast out that Seed that lyeth deep in the body, for in this and the liga∣ments that are fastened in it, lies the chief plea∣sure of loves delight in Copulation; and indeed were not the pleasure transcendently ravish∣ing us, a man or woman would hardly ever die for love. 

I told you the Clitoris is so long in some women that it is seen to hang forth at their Privities and not only the Clitoris that lyeth behind the wings but the Wings also, for the Wings being two skinny Caruncles, on each side one, joyn almost at first, arising from a welt or gard of the skin, of a ligamental substance in the back part the slit of the neck, and they ly hid betwixt the two Lips of the Lap: they alwayes almost touch one the o∣ther, and they go up to the end where the share-bone meets, and when they joyn they make a fleshy rising and cover the Clitoris with a fore∣skin and so they rise to the top of the great cleft. They are longer from the middle up∣ward, and sometimes they will hang forth a little at the great slit without the lips with a blunt corner; yet they are threesquare, like that part of a Cocks Comb that hangs down under his throat both for form and colour; they are soft and spongy, partly fleshy, and partly skinny. In some Coun∣tries they grow so long that the Chirurgion cuts them off to avoid trouble and shame, chiefly in Egypt; they will bleed much when they are cut, and the blood is hardly stopt; wherefore maids have them cut off betimes, and before they marry, for it is a flux of hu∣mours to them, and much motion that makes them grow so long. Some Sea-mem say that they have seen Negro Women go stark naked, and these wings hanging out. 

Besides these, under the Clitoris and above the neck is the passage of the womans water, for the Woman makes not water through the neck of the womb, nor is it a common pas∣sage for Urine and Seed as in men, but it is only for Urine, therefore they that will cast an injection into the womans cleft to stop their water from coming forth too much upon a∣ny occasion concerns their bladder, must take heed they thrust not the spring into the mouth of the Matrix instead of the passage of the bladder.

Near this are four Caruncles or fleshy knobs, in form like to Mirtle berries, they are round in maids, but they flag and hang down as soon as their maidenhead is lost, the uppermost of them is forked and largest, that it may admit the neck of the urinary passage; the other three are below this on the sides; they all serve to keep off air or any thing may offend the neck of the womb.

Maids have these fleshy knobs joyned toge∣ther by a sinewy skin interwoven with ma∣ny small veins, and with a hole in the middle, and through that their Courses pass, it is about the bigness of a mans little finger in such as are grown up; this is that skin so much talked of, and is the token of Virgini∣ty

Original Format



Jane Sharp, “Cover and account of enlarged clitorises from The Midwives Book (1671),” The Anatomy of Difference, accessed June 27, 2022,

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