Female anatomy can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Knowing the appropriate anatomical names to your female anatomy will help you to communicate with your partner and healthcare provider more efficiently. Having the same body part language as your partner can promote better communication surrounding your sexual needs and wants. Knowing your female anatomy, as well as your male anatomy, will help you to get your needs met and help your partner feel more confident.
Additionally, when you refer to your female anatomy with the appropriate words, you negate the opportunity for shame surrounding these parts. Your female anatomy is just that, anatomy. Societal pressures deem females to be ashamed of their body parts henceforth naming them something they’re not- cookie, flower, etc. By correctly referring to your female anatomy, you can take ownership of your body and all it has to offer!
To help categorize each body part, I will break the female anatomy into three parts: external and internal sex organs, and the breast.
External Sex Organs
The external sex organs are referred to as the pudendum or vulva. Often times, the vulva portion of female anatomy is referred to as the vagina. The mons pubis is the outer, fatty part of a woman’s genitalia. It is found above the clitoris and contains pubic hair, unless the female has removed the hair. The mons pubis helps with protection through the fatty tissue, and the pubic hair. Pubic hair offers protection in many forms. It serves as a barrier to many bacteria and viruses. Pubic hair can help protect sensitive skin and help control moisture levels. Pubic hair also contains nerve endings that may help the female to have a greater level of sexual sensation in her mons pubis area. Some women choose to shave or wax their pubic hair, others do not. A woman’s preference can be based on the feeling, cleanliness, looks, and possible partner preference, similar to why people choose to shave their legs, arm pits, facial hair, etc.
Further down the female genitalia is the vestibule. The vestibule contains the clitoris, urethra, introitus, and labia minora. The vestibule contains nerve endings that help to arouse the female. The clitoris is the only bodily feature that serves no other purpose other than sexual satisfaction. The clitoris is made up of the shaft (the body), the glans (the tip), and the clitoral hood. It is made from the same parts as the male penis. There are thousands of nerve endings in the clitoris that, when stimulated, help the female to become aroused often times bringing the female to orgasm. For some females, the only way they can orgasm is through clitoral stimulation.
Under the clitoris, the female has a urethra. The urethra allows the female to urinate, as it is connected to the female’s bladder. It is important for a female to urinate after sexual play to help prevent yeast infections or urinary tract infections. Beneath the urethra, is the female’s introitus (vaginal opening). Most females are born with a hymen, which is found covering the introitus until ruptured. A female can rupture her hymen many different ways: sex, using tampons, getting fingered, falling down, sport activity, getting hit in the genitalia, etc. The rupture of a hymen may cause bleeding and the female to notice that she has torn her hymen; other times, the rupturing of the hymen goes unnoticed. In many cultures, the hymen is looked at as sacred and serves many purposes for the female and potential partner. There are different types of hymens. It is typical for a female to never know which kind of hymen she was born with.
Helping to protect the clitoris, urethra, and introitus is the labia minora and labia majora. The labia minora are usually smaller flaps of skin that tend to be hairless. They surround the vestibule and contain nerve endings that feel good when touched. On the outside of the labia minora are the labia majora. They too act as a protective barrier to the vestibule. Labia majora tend to be bigger flaps of skin and are usually covered in pubic hair. When infections occur, such as yeast infections, a female’s labia may swell, itch, and turn red.
Though the bartholin glands are internal sex organs, they are found just underneath the vestibule, which is why I am including them under external sex organs. They secrete mucus to help lubricate the vestibule and vaginal canal for insertion of a penis, finger, or any other item a female may want inserted into her vaginal canal.
In between the vestibule and the anus, a female has a perineum. This part of the female anatomy also contains nerve endings that when rubbed can feel good and arouse the female. Beneath the perineum is the female’s anus. This is where the female defecates. The outer rim of the anus contains nerve endings that can feel good to be touched. Insertion of penis, finger, or other items may feel good for the female, as well.
Internal Sex Organs
As mentioned above, most people refer to the female genitalia as a whole “the vagina,” the vaginal canal is actually only made up of the space between the introitus and the cervix. After insertion through the introitus, the object moves back and forth in the vaginal canal hitting nerve endings that should feel good. The vagina becomes engorged with blood during arousal and can expand during the arousal phase. Females with sexual dysfunctions such as vaginismus or dyspareunia will experience their pain in their vaginal canal.
The vaginal canal also contains the female g-spot, an area that contains a high amount of nerve endings. The g-spot can be found typically about 1.5 inches into the vaginal canal on the mons pubis side. The g-spot tends to be bumpier in texture and about the size of the female’s fingertip.
Past the vaginal canal is the cervix. This is the lower end of the uterus. The cervix contains two os’s, which is where the IUD birth control method is implanted. The cervix may hurt if hit during penetration and adjustments may need to be made to avoid continuation of striking. Above the cervix is the uterus, which is a hollow, muscular organ where a fertilized egg is implanted for development of the fetus. The uterus has three major layers, the endometrium, which is the innermost layer containing blood vessels and glands; the myometrium, which is the muscular second layer that allows flexibility and strength and where contractions come from during childbirth; and the perimetrium, which is the external cover.
Connected to the uterus are the two fallopian tubes on the left and right side. They are connected to the two almond shaped organs called the ovaries. The ovaries are where the eggs are produced and kept until ready for maturation. The ovaries also produce estrogen and progesterone, which are hormones that are involved in puberty, menstruation, childbirth, and menopause.
The breast contains the mammory glands, which are found in the lobes. They secrete milk. The female does not produce milk unless her hormones activate this action around the time of childbirth. If the mother chooses to breastfeed her child, the milk is carried through the ducts to the nipple and out. If a mother chooses not to breastfeed her child, the production of milk deactivates.
The outer breast has the female’s nipple and areola. Both have nerve endings that can be used for sexual arousal. For some women, nipple arousal can lead to orgasm. Each female’s color and size of the areola and nipple varies. The nerve endings in the areola can help promote stimulation of the bartholin gland.
Now that you know what the female anatomy looks like on paper, go explore it in person! Explore yourself, or your partner, by going through the different parts you just read about. See if you can decipher between your labia majora and minora. Does stimulation around your anal sphincter activate any type of arousal, how about on your nipples? Can you find your g-spot?
If you have a partner, have them explore your body (or you explore theirs) by labeling the body parts as you go. See what feels good for you while your partner touches you in all your erogenous zones. Lastly, practice using anatomically correct verbiage to describe your female anatomy. Find at least one opportunity this week to use the appropriate anatomical words, whether in your next doctor’s appointment, within a conversation with a good friend, etc. You’ll find people will understand you better, specifically your partner you’ve just explored your body with, and your healthcare provider. You will also feel more empowered!