When it comes to the female reproductive anatomy, there are parts on the inside and on the outside. Both areas have important jobs. The Cleveland Clinic says the function of the external structures is twofold; to both enable sperm to enter the body and protect the internal genital organs from infectious organisms.
The vulva is the main external part. It covers the vagina entrance and urethra opening. In an About.com article on the female reproductive system it states, the vulva comprises all the external female genitalia which includes the labia majora and minora, clitoris, perineum, mons pubis, bartholin glands and skene glands.
The labia majora literally means “large lips”. These lips enfold and protect the genitalia listed above. The Cleveland Clinic calls them relatively large and fleshy. The labia majora contain sweat and oil-secreting glands. After puberty, they are covered with hair. An About.com article says the inner surface is hairless and incredibly sensitive to touch, temperature, pressure and pain.
As the name suggests labia minora means small lips. Found inside the labia majora, they too protect the vagina entrance and urethra opening. About.com describes them as hairless, pink, and considerably thinner and smaller than the labia majora. The labia minora are well-supplied with blood vessels and nerves, making them highly sensitive, and glands that produce a lubricant during sexual arousal.
Located between the labia minora is the clitoris. Many compare it the male penis. Covered by a small bit of skin, it too has many nerve endings and is highly sensitive. It also enlarges during stimulation and arousal. EverydayHealth.com says the clitoris does not directly affect reproduction, but it is an important part of the female sexual anatomy.
The mons pubis is the fatty tissue covering the pubic bone. After puberty, this area is covered by hair. The About.com article says it divides to form the labia majora. It also provides cushioning and protection of the pubic bone, especially during intercourse.
The perineum is the area of skin located between the vaginal opening and the anus. It has less hair and many nerve endings. During childbirth, it stretches to accommodate the baby.
Cleveland Clinic says the Bartholin’s glands are located next to the vaginal opening and produce a fluid secretion to aid with sexual intercourse. About.com says they are also thought to enhance the motility and survival of the sperm during intercourse.
The Skene glands are similarly located as the Bartholin’s glands. They too help with lubrication during sexual intercourse.
The Female Reproductive System
A Body Basics Article: Female Reproductive System
Female Anatomy: The Reproductive Organs
The Female Reproductive System: Everything You Need to Know
Reviewed Aug 3, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Shannon Koehle