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The vulva (from the Latin vulva, plural vulvae)

November 9, 2010
The female vulva

In slipshod colloquial speech, the term vagina is often wrongly used to refer to the female genitals generally. The vagina is a specific internal structure, whereas the vulva is the whole exterior genitalia.

Vulva

The vulva (from the Latin vulva, plural vulvae. See etymology) is the external genital organs of the female mammal.[1] This article deals with the vulva of the human being, although the structures are similar for other mammals.

The vulva has many major and minor anatomical structures, including the labia majora, mons pubis, labia minora, clitoris, bulb of the vestibule, vestibule of the vagina, greater and lesser vestibular glands, and the opening of the vagina (See vagina). Its development occurs during several phases, chiefly during the fetal and pubertal periods of time. As the outer portal of the human uterus or womb, it protects its opening by a “double door”: the labia majora (large lips) and the labia minora (small lips). The vagina is a self-cleaning organ, sustaining healthy microbial flora that flow from the inside out; the vulva needs only simple washing to assure good vulvovaginal health, without recourse to any internal cleansing.

The vulva has a sexual function; these external organs are richly innervated and provide pleasure when properly stimulated. Since the origin of human society, in various branches of art the vulva has been depicted as the organ that has the power both “to give life” (i.e., often associated with the womb), and to give sexual pleasure to humankind.[2]

The vulva also contains the opening of the female urethra, thus it serves for the vital function of passing urine.

Labia majora

The labia majora” (singular: labium majus) are two prominent longitudinal cutaneous folds which extend downward and backward from the mons pubis to the perineum and form the lateral boundaries of the cleft of venus, which contains the labia minora, interlabial sulci, clitoral hood, clitoral glans, frenulum clitoridis, the Hart’s Line, and the vulval vestibule, which contains the external openings of the urethra and the vagina.

Each labium majus has two surfaces, an outer, pigmented and covered with strong, crisp hairs; and an inner, smooth and beset with large sebaceous follicles.

Between the two there is a considerable quantity of areolar tissue, fat, and a tissue resembling the dartos tunic of the scrotum, besides vessels, nerves, and glands.

The Labia Majora are thicker in front, where they form by their meeting the anterior commisure of the labia majora.

Posteriorly they are not really joined, but appear to become lost in the neighboring integument, ending close to — and nearly parallel with — each other.

Together with the connecting skin between them, they form the posterior commisure of the labia majora or posterior boundary of the pudendum.

The interval between the posterior commissure of the labia majora and the anus, from 2.5 to 3 cm. in length, constitutes the perineum, commonly known as the taint.

The labia majora correspond to the scrotum in the male.

Between the labia majora and the inner thighs are the labiocrural folds.

Between the labia majora and labia minora are the interlabial sulci.

Labia minora

The labia minora (singular: labium minus) or nymphae[1] are two longitudinal cutaneous folds on the human vulva. They are situated between the labia majora, and extend from the clitoris obliquely downward, laterally, and backward on either side of the vulval vestibule, ending between bottom of the vulval vestibule and the labia majora. In the virgin the posterior ends of the labia minora are usually joined across the middle line by a fold of skin, named the frenulum labiorum pudendi or fourchette. Labia minora may vary widely in size from woman to woman.

On the front, each labium minus (nympha) divides into two portions: the upper division passes above the clitoris to meet the labium minus of the opposite side—which may not be equal in size—forming a fold which overhangs the glans clitoridis; this fold is named the preputium clitoridis. The lower division passes beneath the glans clitoridis and becomes united to its under surface, forming, with the labium minus of the opposite side—which also may not be equal in size—the frenulum clitoridis.

On the opposed surfaces of the labia minora are numerous sebaceous follicles.

Vagina

The vagina (from Latin vagĭna, literally “sheath” or “scabbard“) is a fibromuscular tubular tract leading from the uterus to the exterior of the body in female placental mammals and marsupials, or to the cloaca in female birds, monotremes, and some reptiles. Female insects and other invertebrates also have a vagina, which is the terminal part of the oviduct. The Latinate plural “vaginae” is rarely used in English.

The word vagina is quite often incorrectly used to refer to the vulva or female genitals generally; strictly speaking, the vagina is a specific internal structure.

Source: Wikipedia

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One Comment
  1. amandalu862 permalink

    Thanks for the education and rightful terminology

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