Development and Structure of the Glandopreputial Sulcus of the Human Clitoris With a Special Reference to Glandopreputial Glands



The structure and development of the sulcus between the glans and prepuce of the human clitoris have hardly been investigated. Interest in its structure was raised when in the female, in contrast to the male, glands were found to develop from the solid lamella-like precursor of the glandopreputial sulcus. It prompted a further histological analysis of the sulcus in female fetuses and newborn and an extension of that study to clitorises of adult women. The investigation showed that in the clitoris, in contrast to the penis, the transformation of the glandopreputial lamella into the open sulcus was mostly incomplete and apparently remained so throughout life. As a most striking and probably exclusively female feature, two to eight eccrine glands developed from the base of the lamella in fetuses older than 14.5 weeks gestation. These glands formed secretory coils near and occasionally inside the adjacent distal corpora cavernosa. Some glands showed atresia, cystic dilatation, and squamous metaplasia. A remarkably similar picture was observed in the adult clitorises, in which the secretory coils were often found between the large blood vessels and nerves to the glans and were connected to the sulcus by long excretory ducts. All glands revealed unmistakably eccrine features. It is suggested that their secretion moistens the female glandopreputial sulcus, which is not lubricated by urethral secretion as in the male. The findings may explain the rare clitoral phimosis, cysts, and some pilonidal sinuses. Anat Rec, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.