Female Sex Organs.

The primary female sex organs are the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and vagina. The external female sex organs are known collectively as the vulva.They are the mons veneris (mons pubis), the labia majora (large outer lips), the labia minora (small inner lips), the clitoris, and the vestibule (the cleft region enclosed by the labia minora). The hymen is a fold ofconnective tissue that partly closes the vagina in the virginal female. The Bartholin's gland, situated on either side of the vaginal orifice, secrete a drop or so of fluid during sexual excitement. The female sexual organs could also include breasts but that has been omitted here.

FEMALE INTERNAL SEXUAL ANATOMY

Vaginal Development

The vagina matures at puberty in a number of ways.It increases in length, and its mucous lining becomes thicker, more elastic, and turns a deeper color. The Bartholin's glands begin to secrete their fluids, and the inner walls of the vagina change their secretion from the alkaline reaction of childhood to an acid reaction in adolescence.

Changes in the Vulva and Uterus

The labia majora, practically nonexistent in childhood, enlarges greatly, as do the labia minora and the clitoris. The mons veneris becomes more prominent through the development of a fatty pad.

A dramatic change also takes place in the uterus, which doubles in length, showing a straight line increase during the period from ten to eighteen years of age. The uterus of the mature nonpregnant female is hollow, thick walled, muscular organ shaped like a pear, about 3 inches long, 2-1/2 inches at the top and narrowing to a diameter of 1 inch at the cervix.

Ovarian Changes

The ovaries increases greatly in size and weight. They ordinarily show a fairly steady growth from birth to about eight years of age. From eight to about the time of ovulation (twelve to thirteen years) the rate of growth accelerates somewhat, but the most rapid increase occurs after sexual maturity is reached. This is due, no doubt, to the maturation of the follicles within the ovary itself.Every infant girl is born with about 4,00,000 follicles in each ovary. By the time puberty has been reached, this number declines to about 80,000 in each ovary. Ordinarily, one follicle ripens into an ovum every twenty-eight days for a period of about thirty-eight years, which means that only about 495 ripend during the womans reproductive period.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 menstruation.

Menarche

On the average the adolescent girl begins her menstrual cycle at twelve to thirteen years of age, although she may mature considerably earlier or later (nine to eighteen years is an extreme range). Menarche (the onset of menstruation) usually does not occur until after maximum growth rates in height and weight have been achieved. Because of the superior nutrition and health care, girls start menstruating earlier than in former generations. An increase in body fat may stimulate mearche; while vigorous excercise tends to delay it.

The Vocabulary of the Vulva

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 is 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. The clitoris is protected by the prepuce, or clitoral hood, a covering of tissue similar to the labia minora. During sexual excitement, the clitoris may extend and the hood retract to make the clitoris more accessible. Some clitori are 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.

Vagina and Hymen

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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