Saturday, July 23, 2016

Female Genitalia/Reproductive System


Female Genitalia/Reproductive System
Multiple Responses
Your Guide to the Female Reproductive System
The female reproductive system is designed to carry out several functions. It produces the female egg cells necessary for reproduction, called the ova or oocytes. The system is designed to transport the ova to the site of fertilization. Conception, the fertilization of an egg by asperm, normally occurs in the fallopian tubes. The next step for the fertilized egg is to implant into the walls of the uterus, beginning the initial stages of pregnancy. If fertilization and/or implantation does not take place, the system is designed to menstruate (the monthly shedding of the uterine lining). In addition, the female reproductive system produces female sex hormones that maintain the reproductive cycle.

What Parts Make up the Female Anatomy?
The female reproductive anatomy includes parts inside and outside the body.
Female Reproductive System
The function of the external female reproductive structures (the genitals) is twofold: To enable sperm to enter the body and to protect the internal genital organs from infectious organisms.

The main external structures of the female reproductive system include:
  • Labia majora: The labia majora enclose and protect the other external reproductive organs. Literally translated as "large lips," the labia majora are relatively large and fleshy, and are comparable to the scrotum in males. The labia majora contain sweat and oil-secreting glands. After puberty, the labia majora are covered withhair.
  • Labia minora: Literally translated as "small lips," the labia minora can be very small or up to 2 inches wide. They lie just inside the labia majora, and surround the openings to the vagina (the canal that joins the lower part of the uterus to the outside of the body) and urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body).
  • Bartholin's glands: These glands are located beside the vaginal opening and produce a fluid (mucus) secretion.
  • Clitoris: The two labia minora meet at the clitoris, a small, sensitive protrusion that is comparable to the penis in males. The clitoris is covered by a fold of skin, called the prepuce, which is similar to the foreskin at the end of the penis. Like the penis, the clitoris is very sensitive to stimulation and can become erect.

The internal reproductive organs in the female include:
  • Vagina: The vagina is a canal that joins the cervix (the lower part of uterus) to the outside of the body. It also is known as the birth canal.
  • Uterus (womb): The uterus is a hollow, pear-shaped organ that is the home to a developing fetus. The uterus is divided into two parts: the cervix, which is the lower part that opens into the vagina, and the main body of the uterus, called the corpus. The corpus can easily expand to hold a developing baby. A channel through the cervix allows sperm to enter and menstrual blood to exit.
  • Ovaries: The ovaries are small, oval-shaped glands that are located on either side of the uterus. The ovaries produce eggs and hormones.
  • Fallopian tubes: These are narrow tubes that are attached to the upper part of the uterus and serve as tunnels for the ova (egg cells) to travel from the ovaries to the uterus. Conception, the fertilization of an egg by a sperm, normally occurs in the fallopian tubes. The fertilized egg then moves to the uterus, where it implants into the lining of the uterine wall.

What Happens During the Menstrual Cycle?
Females of reproductive age experience cycles of hormonal activity that repeat at about one-month intervals. With every cycle, a woman's body prepares for a potential pregnancy, whether or not that is the woman's intention. The term menstruation refers to the periodic shedding of the uterine lining. (Menstru means "monthly.'')

The average menstrual cycle takes about 28 days and occurs in phases: the follicular phase, the ovulatory phase (ovulation), and the luteal phase.

There are four major hormones (chemicals that stimulate or regulate the activity of cells or organs) involved in the menstrual cycle: follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, estrogen, and progesterone.

Follicular Phase of the Menstrual Cycle
This phase starts on the first day of your period. During the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, the following events occur:
  • Two hormones, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), are released from the brain and travel in the blood to the ovaries.
  • The hormones stimulate the growth of about 15 to 20 eggs in the ovaries, each in its own "shell," called a follicle.
  • These hormones (FSH and LH) also trigger an increase in the production of the female hormone estrogen.
  • As estrogen levels rise, like a switch, it turns off the production of follicle-stimulating hormone. This careful balance of hormones allows the body to limit the number of follicles that mature.
  • As the follicular phase progresses, one follicle in one ovary becomes dominant and continues to mature. This dominant follicle suppresses all of the other follicles in the group. As a result, they stop growing and die. The dominant follicle continues to produce estrogen.

Ovulatory Phase of the Menstrual Cycle
The ovulatory phase, or ovulation, starts about 14 days after the follicular phase started. The ovulatory phase is the midpoint of the menstrual cycle, with the next menstrual period starting about two weeks later. During this phase, the following events occur:
  • The rise in estrogen from the dominant follicle triggers a surge in the amount of luteinizing hormone that is produced by the brain.
  • This causes the dominant follicle to release its egg from the ovary.
  • As the egg is released (a process called ovulation), it is captured by finger-like projections on the end of the fallopian tubes (fimbriae). The fimbriae sweep the egg into the tube.
  • Also during this phase, there is an increase in the amount and thickness of mucus produced by the cervix (lower part of the uterus). If a woman were to have intercourse during this time, the thick mucus captures the man's sperm, nourishes it, and helps it to move towards the egg for fertilization.

Luteal Phase of the Menstrual Cycle
The luteal phase of the menstrual cycle begins right after ovulation and involves the following processes:
  • Once it releases its egg, the empty follicle develops into a new structure called the corpus luteum.
  • The corpus luteum secretes the hormone progesterone. Progesterone prepares the uterus for a fertilized egg to implant.
  • If intercourse has taken place and a man's sperm has fertilized the egg (a process called conception), the fertilized egg (embryo) will travel through the fallopian tube to implant in the uterus. The woman is now considered pregnant.
  • If the egg is not fertilized, it passes through the uterus. Not needed to support a pregnancy, the lining of the uterus breaks down and sheds, and the next menstrual period begins.

How Many Eggs Does a Woman Have?
The vast majority of the eggs within the ovaries steadily die, until they are depleted at menopause. At birth, there are approximately 1 million to 2 million eggs; by the time of puberty, only about 300,000 remain. Of these, only about 500 will be ovulated during a woman's reproductive lifetime. Any remaining eggs gradually die out at menopause.



  • (A) External View, closed
  • (B) External View, open and flushed.

The Vulva is the external sexual organ of women. The above view (A) shows the external view of the female vulva as normally seen when the woman is standing up. View (B) shows the vulva when it is opened, and from the top down one can clearly see the Veneris Mons, clitoral hood, clitoris, and labia minora. There are many questions about the vulva on, and this FAQ will begin to attempt to answer some of these.

The external female genitals are collectively referred to as The Vulva. All of the words below are part of the vulva.

Mons Veneris
The mons veneris, Latin for "hill of Venus" (Roman Goddess of love) is the pad of fatty tissue that covers the pubic bone below the abdomen but above the labia. The mons is sexually sensitive in some women and protects the pubic bone from the impact of sexual intercourse.

Labia Majora
The labia majora are the outer lips of the vulva, pads of fatty tissue that wrap around the vulva from the mons to the perineum. These labia are usually covered with pubic hair, and contain numerous sweat and oil glands, and it has been suggested that the scent from these are sexually arousing.

Labia Minora
The labia minora are the inner lips of the vulva, thin stretches of tissue within the labia majora that fold and protect the vagina, urethra, and clitoris. The appearance of labia minora can vary widely, from tiny lips that hide between the labia majora to large lips that protrude. The most common metaphor for the labia minora is that of a flower. Both the inner and outer labia are quite sensitive to touch and pressure.

The clitoris, visible in picture (B) as the small white oval between the top of the labia minora and the clitoral hood, is a small body of spongy tissue that is highly sexually sensitive. Only the tip or glans of the clitoris shows extrernally, but the organ itself is elongated and branched into two forks, the crura, which extend downward along the rim of the vaginal opening toward the perineum. Thus the clitoris is much larger than most peole think it is -- about 4" long, on avergae. The clitoral glans or external tip of the cltoris is protected by the prepuce, or clitoral hood, a covering of tissue similar to the foreskin of the male penis. During sexual excitement, the clitoris may extend and the hood retract to make the clitoral glans more accessible. On some women the clitoral glans is very small; other women may have large clitori that the hood does not completely cover.

The opening to the urethra is just below the clitoris. It is not related to sex or reproduction, but is instead the passage for urine. The urethra is connected to the bladder. Because the urethra is so close to the anus, women should always wipe themselves from front to back to avoid infecting the vagina and urethra with bacteria.

(A) (B) (C) (D) (E)

The above illustrations show the area between the labia minora. From top to bottom can be clearly seen the clitoris, urethral opening, and vaginal opening. A, B, and C show vaginal openings with a normal hymen, a membrane that partially covers the opening. The hymen is the traditional "symbol" of virginity, although being a very thin membrane, it can be torn by vigorous exercise or the insertion of a tampon. Illustration D shows an imperforate hymen that completely closes the vagina; this rare condition requires surgical intervention to provide for a normal flow of blood once menstruation begins. Illustration E is of a vagina in a post-partum woman (one who has given birth).

The perineum is the short stretch of skin starting at the bottom of the vulva and extending to the anus. The perineum in women often tears during birth to accomodate passage of the child, and this is apparently natural. Some physicians may cut the perineum preemptively on the grounds that the "tearing" may be more harmful than a precise scalpel, but statistics show that such cutting in fact may increase the potential for infection.


The vagina extends from the vaginal opening to the cervix, the opening to the uterus. The vagina serves as the receptacle for the penis during sexual intercourse, and as the birth canal through which the baby passes during labor. The average vaginal canal is three inches long, possibly four in women who have given birth. This may seem short in relation to the penis, but during sexual arousal the cervix will lift upwards and the fornix (see illustration) may extend upwards into the body as long as necessary to receive the penis. After intercourse, the contraction of the vagina will allow the cervix to rest inside the fornix, which in its relaxed state is a bowl-shaped fitting perfect for the pooling of semen.

At either side of the vaginal opening are the Bartholin's glands, which produce small amounts of lubricating fluid, apparently to keep the inner labia moist during periods of sexual excitement. Further within are thehymen glands, which secrete lubricant for the length of the vaginal canal.

The word is in quotes because there is still some debate as to the existance or purpose of the G- spot. In the illustration above, what is indicated as the g-spot in fact points to a region known as the Skenes glands, the purpose of which are unknown. Despite the controversy, one fact remains-- there are many women who claim that pressure on this region of the vagina is extremely pleasurable. Usually, two fingers are used, and because the spot is deep within the tissue, some pressure may be needed. Also, because the Skenes glands are alongside the bladder, some women may found that the increased pressure makes them feel as if they need to urinate.

The cervix is the opening to the uterus. It varies in diameter from 1 to 3 millimeters, depending upon the time in the menstrual cycle the measurement is taken. The cervix is sometimes plugged with cervical mucous to protect the cervix from infection; during ovulation, this mucous becomes a thin fluid to permit the passage of sperm.

The uterus, or womb, is the main female internal reproductive organ. The inner lining of the uterus is called the endometrium, which grows and changes during the menstrual cycle to prepare to receive a fertilized egg, and sheds a layer at the end of every menstrual cycle if fertilization does not happen. The utereus is lined with powerful muscles to push the child out during labor.

The ovaries perform two functions: the production of estrogen and progesterone, the female sex hormones, and the production of matureova, or eggs. At birth, the ovaries contain nearly 400,000 ova, and those are all she will ever have. However, that is far more than she will need, since during an average lifespan she will go through about 500 menstrual cycles. After maturing, the single egg travels down the fallopian tube, a journey of three or four days-- this is the period during which a woman is fertile and pregnancy may occur. Eggs that are not fertilized are expelled during menstruation.

What is the G-Spot?
The Grafenberg spot, or G-spot, is an area located within the anterior (or front) wall of the vagina, about one centimetre from the surface and one-third to one-half way in from the vaginal opening (see illustration and text). It is reported to consist of a system of glands (Skene's glands) and ducts that surround the urethra (Heath, 1984). Some authors write that you must press "deeply" into the tissue with two fingers to reach it with any effectiveness.

The significance of the G-spot is that some women (about half) report that it is a highly sensitive area that under the right conditions can be very pleasurable if stimulated. For some women, it can be a primary source of stimulation leading to orgasm during intercourse. Other women report no particular stimulation, and some say that it feels as if they need to urinate.

The G-Spot has been linked to the phenomenon known as female ejaculation. To date, there is little data about female ejaculation, although there is some speculation that it is the product of the Skene's glands.

What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?
Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a rare but serious illness which can occur in men, women and children. About half the number of cases reported are associated with using tampons and affect a tiny number of women every year-- only about 1 out of every 1.5 million women who have periods. TSS can occasionally be fatal.

Toxic Shock Syndrome can be treated successfully providing it is recognised quickly, and most young people make a full recovery. Younger people may more at risk from the bacteria which are believed to cause this rare condition, because their immune system may not be fully developed.

In the unlikely event that you have these symptoms during your period--a high fever (over 102F or 39C), rash, vomiting, diarrhoea, sore throat, dizziness or fainting - you must remove your tampon and consult your doctor immediately. These symptoms can be early warning signs of TSS, which can develop very quickly and may seem like flu to begin with.

Do not worry about wasting the doctor's time and remember to say you have been wearing a tampon. Do not use tampons again without checking first with your doctor.

By using tampons correctly and following the advice below, you will reduce the risk of developing TSS.

  • Always wash your hands before and after insertion and removal of a tampon.
  • Always remove the used tampon before inserting a new one.
  • Always remember to remove the last tampon at the end of your period.
  • Never use 2 tampons at once.
  • Tampons should only be used when you have a period.

Reproductive & Sexual Anatomy at a Glance
  • Reproductive and sexual anatomy includes the external and internal sex organs and the internal reproductive organs.
  • Women and men have different sexual anatomies.
  • It’s “normal” to be different — one woman’s sexual anatomy will look different from another woman’s, and one man’s sexual anatomy will look different from another man’s.

Reproductive and sexual anatomy (also known as sex anatomy) includes both the genitals that are visible outside the body as well as the internal sex and reproductive organs.

Many people have questions about sexual anatomy. In fact, the most common questions sex educators answer are about sex anatomy. People — especially young people — are often curious where certain body parts are, how those body parts work, and if their body parts are normal.

Here are some of the most common questions we hear about sexual anatomy. We hope you find them helpful.

What Are the Parts of a Woman’s External Sex Anatomy
The vulva includes all of a woman’s external sex organs:
Outer Lips
The outer lips are also called the labia majora, or outer labia. The outer lips are fleshy, covered by pubic hair, and connect to the thighs. Most women have larger outer lips than inner lips, but many women have larger inner lips than outer lips.

Inner Lips
The inner lips are also called the labia minora, or inner labia. They cover the vaginal opening and the urethra. Inner lips are visible when the outer labia are pulled apart. And in many women, the inner lips stick out of the outer lips. Inner lips can be short or long, wrinkled or smooth. The inner lips are also sensitive and can swell when a woman is aroused. The inner lips can vary in color from pink to brownish black depending on the color of a woman's skin. The inner labia also can change color as women mature.

The clitoris is the spongy tissue that fills with blood during sexual excitement and becomes erect. It is very sensitive to the touch. The external tip of the clitoris is located at the top of the vulva, where the inner lips meet. The inner structure of the clitoris includes a shaft and two crura — roots or legs — of erectile tissue that extend up to five inches into a woman’s body on both sides of her vagina. Networks of highly sensitive nerves extend from the crura in the pelvic area. The clitoris is the only organ in the human body whose only purpose is sexual pleasure.

Clitoral Hood
The clitoral hood is the skin that covers and protects the external tip of the clitoris.

Opening of the Urethra
The urethra is the tube that empties the bladder and carries urine out of the body. The opening of the urethra is located below the clitoris. It is quite small and may be difficult to see or feel.

Opening of the Vagina
The vaginal opening is located below the urethral opening. The vaginal opening is where fingers, a penis, or tampons can enter the vagina and is also where menstrual blood and a fetus come out of the body.

Mons Veneris
The mons veneris is the fleshy, triangular mound above the vulva that is covered with pubic hair in adolescent and adult women. It cushions the pubic bone.

What Are the Parts of a Woman’s Internal Sex Anatomy?
The vagina is the stretchable passage that connects a woman’s external sex organs with her cervix and uterus. The vagina is a tube with walls of wrinkled tissue that lay against one another. The walls open just enough to allow something to go in the vagina — like a tampon, finger, or penis.

The vagina is 2–4 inches long when a woman is not aroused and 4–8 inches long when she is sexually aroused.

The vagina has three functions:
  • to allow menstrual flow to leave the body
  • to allow sexual penetration to occur (either by hand, sex toy, or penis)
  • to allow a fetus to pass through during vaginal delivery

The cervix is the narrow, lower part of the uterus. It has an opening that connects the uterus to the vagina. This opening allows menstrual blood to leave the uterus and sperm to enter into the uterus, and is what dilates — stretches open — during labor.

The uterus is a pear-shaped, muscular reproductive organ from which women menstruate and where a normal pregnancy develops. The uterus is normally about the size of a woman’s fist. It stretches many times that size during pregnancy. It is sometimes referred to as the womb.

During sexual arousal, the lower end of the uterus lifts toward the abdomen, which creates more space at the end of the vagina. This is called “tenting.”

Fallopian Tubes
The fallopian tubes are two narrow tubes that carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. Sperm travels into the fallopian tubes to fertilize the egg.
The fimbriae are like dozens of tiny fingers at the end of each fallopian tube that sweep the egg from the ovary into the tube.

The ovaries are two organs that store eggs in a woman’s body. Ovaries also produce hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. During puberty, the ovaries start to release eggs each month and do so until menopause. Usually, one ovary releases an egg each month.

Bartholin’s Glands
The Bartholin’s glands are two glands that release fluid to lubricate the vagina during sexual arousal. They are located on either side of the vaginal opening.

The hymen is the thin fleshy tissue that stretches across part of the opening to the vagina.

G Spot
The G spot, or Gräfenberg spot, is located on the front wall of the vagina — the wall that is closest to the abdomen. It is about 1–2 inches inside the vagina. The G spot is very sensitive and swells during sexual excitement.

Skene’s Glands
The Skene’s glands are located in the vulva on opposite sides of the opening to the urethra. They release the fluid that is ejaculated during female ejaculation. They are also called paraurethral glands or female prostate glands.

The urethra is the tube that empties the bladder and carries urine out of the body.

What Other Parts of Our Anatomies Are Sexual?
When it comes to sex, women and men are more alike than they are different. In many ways, for example, the brain can be said to be our most important sex organ. The brain controls our sexual responses, releases sex hormones, and it is where all our sex fantasies, and sexual identities live. This is just as true for women as it is for men.

Skin is the largest organ of the body. It carries a network of highly sensitive nerves all over our bodies, so that any body part may be stimulated for sexual arousal. In this way, too, our skin is our biggest sex organ. This also is just as true for men as it is for women.

Any part of the body that is sensitive to sensual touch — whether or not it is part of our sex anatomy — is called an “erogenous zone.” For both women and men, this may include our breasts and nipples, our anuses, the backs of our necks, our lips, our mouths and tongues, the smalls of our backs, our fingers and toes, the palms of our hands, the soles of the feet, the lobes of our ears, our inner thighs, etc. Some of these may be erogenous zones for many of us.

Female Anatomy: The Reproductive Organs
Learn about the key organs and tissues that enable a woman have a baby.

In male and female anatomy, many bodily functions are similar.

The circulatory system and digestive system, for example, function in much the same ways in both male and female bodies.

The biggest differences between male and female anatomy are in the reproductive system. The female sexual anatomy and its composite parts allow women to become pregnant and bear children.

While the reproductive organs in the female anatomy perform their own specific functions, they also work together as a highly complex, interrelated system.

The female sexual anatomy is comprised of both internal and external parts.

Female Sexual Anatomy: Internal Organs
Key organs for female reproduction are protectively located deep within the body. These include:
  • Ovaries — A woman normally has a pair of ovaries that resemble almonds in size and shape. They are home to the female sex cells, called eggs, and they also produce estrogen, the female sex hormone. Women’s ovaries already contain several hundred thousand undeveloped eggs at birth, but the eggs are not called into action until puberty. Roughly once a month, starting at puberty and lasting until menopause, the ovaries release an egg into the fallopian tubes; this is called ovulation. When fertilization does not occur, the egg leaves the body as part of the menstrual cycle.
  • Fallopian tubes — The ovaries connect to the uterus via the fallopian tubes. Fertilization usually happens within the fallopian tubes. Then, the fertilized egg makes its way down to the uterus.
  • Uterus — The uterus is located in the pelvis of a woman’s body and is made up of smooth muscle tissue. Commonly referred to as the womb, the uterus is hollow and holds the fetus during pregnancy. Each month, the uterus develops a lining that is rich in nutrients. The reproductive purpose of this lining is to provide nourishment for a developing fetus. Since eggs aren’t usually fertilized, the lining usually leaves the body as menstrual blood during a woman’s monthly period.
  • Cervix — The lower part of the uterus, which connects to the vagina, is known as the cervix. Often called the neck or entrance to the womb, the cervix lets menstrual blood out and semen into the uterus. The cervix remains closed during pregnancy but can expand dramatically duringchildbirth.
  • Vagina — The vagina has both internal and external parts and connects the uterus to the outside of the body. Made up of muscle and skin, the vagina is a long hollow tube that is sometimes called the “birth canal” because, if you are pregnant, the vagina is the pathway the baby will take when it’s ready to be born. The vagina also allows menstrual blood to leave a woman's body during reproduction and is where the penis deposits semen during sexual intercourse.

Female Sexual Anatomy: External Parts
The entrance to the vagina is surrounded by external parts that generally serve to protect the internal organs; this area is called the vulva. The vulva consists of the following:
  • Labia majora — Translated as “large lips,” this flap of skin protects the vagina from foreign particles.
  • Labia minora — The “small lips” also surround and protect the vaginal opening and are located inside the labia majora.
  • Clitoris — The clitoris is a sensitive organ located above the vaginal opening. The clitoris does not directly affect reproduction, but it is an important part of the female sexual anatomy; many women need clitoral stimulation to orgasm.
  • Mons pubis — The fatty mound of tissue that covers the pubic bone. Often called the "mons."
  • Perineum — A stretch of hairless, sensitive skin that extends from the bottom of the vaginal opening back to the anus.

The Human Vagina and Other Female Anatomy
Understanding women's sexual (or reproductive) organs such as the vagina, uterus, and vulva is as integral to sex as understanding the penis. Demystifying female anatomy is key to good sexual functioning, whether you're a mature, experienced adult or looking to learn about women's sexual organs for the first time.

The vagina
What makes women different from men is that much of our sexual apparatus is on the inside — most notably, the vagina. The vagina itself is a hollow, muscular tube that extends from the external opening at the vestibule all the way to the cervix.


The walls of the vagina have several layers: the mucosa, which secretes various fluids; a muscular layer; and connective tissue. Beneath the vagina, on the pelvic floor, are other muscles that are responsible for keeping the vagina elevated, tight, and firm.

During intercourse, the vagina stretches to accommodate the penis. It also becomes lubricated, or slippery, by the passage of fluids through the vaginal walls. This fluid has another function besides making it easier for the penis to slide in and out of the vagina. It also changes the chemical nature of the vagina, making it more alkaline and less acidic — an environment that proves more hospitable to sperm.

The cervix and uterus
The cervix, which is the entrance to the uterus, produces a special mucus that changes according to the woman’s menstrual cycle — the monthly process of releasing eggs in preparation for possible pregnancy. Around ovulation, the mucus is abundant, clear, watery, and welcoming to sperm. After ovulation, it is thick, cloudy, sticky, and nearly impenetrable to sperm.

The uterus (or womb) has an inner cavity lined by a tissue called the endometrium, which develops and sheds regularly as part of the menstrual cycle. Menstruation occurs in response to ovarian hormones. The uterus is where the baby develops.

The ovaries and fallopian tubes
The ovaries (where eggs are stored and released, usually one each month) connect to the uterus via the fallopian tubes. A woman is born with 200,000 eggs, but by the time she reaches puberty, that number has dwindled to 400 or so.

The ovaries also release the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone. These hormones trigger the processes needed to create a baby. As far as the role that estrogen and progesterone play in a woman’s sexual desire, the evidence seems to tilt away from their having much of a role. Women also produce the male sex hormone, testosterone, and this may play somewhat of a role, but the evidence is not conclusive.


The vulva
The part of the female genitals that you can see from the outside of the body is called the vulva, which lies between the mons pubis and the anus. Its various components are labeled here:


Within the vulva’s lips are the clitoris (a woman’s most sensitive spot), the urethra (from which urine is passed), and the vestibule (the actual entrance to the vagina, covered by a membrane called the hymen), all labeled in the following image.


When a woman is aroused, the vestibular bulbs, which lie underneath the labia minora (inner lips), swell with blood and become engorged, somewhat like a penis — which only makes sense, because they’re made from the same spongy tissue as the penis. The clitoris (the pea-sized principal organ of female pleasure) also swells during sexual excitement.

Not all vulvas look alike, and you certainly shouldn’t be ashamed of the way your vulva looks like.

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