FEMALE SEXUAL ANATOMY
FEMALE EXTERNAL GENITALIA:
VULVA, LABIA, and CLITORIS
- (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 alt.sex,
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.
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
- 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.
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
FEMALE INTERNAL GENITALIA
VAGINA, UTERUS, OVARIES, AND G-SPOT
- 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 the
hymen glands, which secrete lubricant for the length of the vaginal
- 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 mature ova, 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
FREQUENTLY ANSWERED QUESTIONS
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
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
- 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.
Elf Sternberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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DEFINITION OF SEXUAL TERMS |
THE PENIS |
THE VULVA, CLITORIS, AND VAGINA |
FIRST TIME SEX |
GREAT TIME SEX |
ORAL SEX FOR MEN (FELLATIO) |
ORAL SEX FOR WOMEN (CUNNILINGUS) |
ANAL SEX AND ANALINGUS |
SEX TOYS |
CONTRACEPTION (BIRTH CONTROL) |
SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES |
LEGALITY (SODOMY LAWS, AGE OF CONSENT) |