Cavernous nerves

The cavernous nerves are post-ganglionic parasympathetic nerves that facilitate penile erection and clitoral erection.[1] They arise from cell bodies in the inferior hypogastric plexus where they receive the pre-ganglionic pelvic splanchnic nerves (S2-S4).

Cavernous nerves of clitoris
FromUterovaginal plexus
Latinnervi cavernosi clitoridis
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy
Cavernous nerves of penis
Fromprostatic plexus
Latinnervi cavernosi penis
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

In the penis, there are both lesser cavernous nerves and a greater cavernous nerve.

Clinical considerations

These nerves are susceptible to injury following prostatectomy or genital surgery.

Nerve-Sparing prostatectomy was invented for surgeons to avoid injuring the nerves and causing erectile dysfunction complications. During surgery, a doctor may apply a small electrical stimulation to the nerve and measure the erectile function with a penile plethysmograph.[2] This test aids the surgeon in identifying the nerves, which are difficult to see.[3]


  1. Oakley, Susan H.; Mutema, George K.; Crisp, Catrina C.; Estanol, M. Victoria; Kleeman, Steven D.; Fellner, Angela N.; Pauls, Rachel N. (September 2013). "Innervation and histology of the clitoral-urethal complex: a cross-sectional cadaver study". The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 10 (9): 2211–2218. doi:10.1111/jsm.12230. ISSN 1743-6109. PMID 23809460.
  2. Dr. Peter Scardino's Prostate Book, Avery, 2005
  3. Blue Torch December 2007
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