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Sunday, July 21, 2013

FEMALE EXTERNAL GENITALIA: VULVA, LABIA, and CLITORIS

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.

Vulva

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.

Clitoris

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.

Urethra

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.
 
Hymen
 
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).

Perineum

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.
 

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