Female Reproductive System - Sexual Anatomy
The vagina is the muscular tube leading from the external genitals to the cervix of the uterus in women. However, in this part of the female body, there are many different areas which should be understood to better understand human nature. In this OneHowTo article we will explain the female sexual anatomy with references to the different parts of the female reproductive system as both sides are connected and are essential for procreation.
When we talk about vagina we refer to the elastic canal found in female genitalia. It is where the male enters the female during sexual intercourse and is shaped like a tube, connecting the vulva (the external part of the female genitalia) to the cervix, where the sperm enters for fertilisation.
The size of the vagina is different in every person and the flexibility and dilatation varies greatly from woman to woman. Normally, the vagina is around 8 centimetres long and varies in width. It expands during sexual intercourse and considerably during birth, so the baby can pass through.
The functions of the vagina are divided into 3 main types:
- Menstrual flow. The vagina is through where menstrual blood passes each month, which travels from inside the uterus.
- The penis enters during sex: the area in which sperm is ejaculated during sexual intercourse.
- Birth canal: the passageway through which the foetus is expelled at the time of birth.
The walls found in the vagina are lined with mucous which keeps the area healthy and free of infection. It is for this reason that it is important to ensure correct intimate hygiene as bacteria and viruses can pass through and lead to infections. In this OneHowTo article we'll tell you how to maintain good feminine hygiene to stay protected.
Parts of female genitalia
Now that we have specified that the vagina is the canal in which sexual penetration takes place, we'll give more details on the different parts of the female genital area. There are others parts aside from this that are worth being made aware of.
- Vulva: this refers to the external part of the female genital area. It is the generic name that encompasses all sexual areas listed below.
- The pubic mound (or mons pubis): the upper zone which is covered with pubic hair and is responsible for covering and protecting the vulva. In females, a fatty pad over the point where both pubic bones meet, just beneath the torso.
- Labia majora (outer labia): the folds that close when the legs are together and are responsible for protecting the area fro infection or external agents. They extend from the mons pubis to the vaginal area and are also covered in pubic hair.
- Labia minora (inner labia): are more sensitive to touch, are hairless and, during sex, they swell and darken. They are located below the labia majora and are full of nerve endings and blood vessels, hence the extreme sensitivity in this area. These lips are responsible for covering the clitoris.
- Clitoris: a small area with a rounded shape, like a small marble or pea. It is the most sensitive area, through which women can get aroused and reach orgasm. It is located below the pubic mound in the area where it meets the labia minora and, when stimulated, it fills with blood and can therefore harden and grow in size.
- Vagina: we have already explained what the vagina is in the previous section, as well as what its function is. As you can see in the image, it is located within the vulva.
- Hymen: a very thin layer of skin which is inside the vaginal canal which can be stretched or torn, which causes bleeding. Playing sport, falling or sex are some things that cause the hymen to break, although some people are born without one. It has no known biological function.
- Urinary opening: it connects to the urethra, a short tube that allows urine to be expelled from the bladder to the outside the body. It serves no sexual function but it is also found in the vulva area.
- Anus: the tube that connect the rectum, i.e. the lower part of the intestine that eliminates excrement from our organism.
The female reproductive system
But, as aforementioned, the vulva is external part of the female reproductive system and, in order for gestation to take place, the internal organs are needed. These host the fertilised egg where it develops until it is passed out to the external world.
- Ovaries: these are responsible for creating the eggs, i.e., the elements essential for fertilisation. Every month, the ovaries release an egg that passes through the fallopian tubes; this is known as menstruation. If the egg is fertilised with a sperm, the woman will become pregnant. If it is not, the egg disintegrates and menstruation blood forms. Women have two ovaries, one on each end of the tube and they are normally the size of an almond. Find out the normal size for ovaries at OneHowTo.
- Fallopian tubes: these are tubes that connect the ovaries to the womb and is the area through which the eggs move when they are expelled from the ovaries every month.
- Womb: also known as the uterus, is a hollow muscle which is where the baby develops when the egg is fertilised. If the sperm does not fertilise the egg, it melts in the womb and menstrual blood appears.
- Cervix: the area where the womb opens, i.e., where the vagina is connected. It is also responsible for protecting the womb from the penis during sexual intercourse. Moreover, when giving birth, it opens to allow the baby to leave through the vagina.
- Vagina: the area through which the baby passes. As mentioned above, this is a flexible tube that can expand considerably to allow the baby to pass through easily.
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