Most of us are familiar with the different parts of our bodies and have a working knowledge of what they do. But somehow, when it comes to the area 'down there', nobody's sure about the great unknown. It's a taboo subject. You can't ask your parents about it. Whatever little you know has been picked up from girlie magazines and steamy novels, which are not the most reliable source of information. And like you, your friends are pretty much groping in the dark. Read on to find out about that mysterious place between your legs.
External female anatomy
The entire external sexual area in women is called the vulva. The soft, fatty pad of the female external anatomy covered with pubic hair is called the mons veneris or Mount of Venus. Pubic hair begins to grow around the age of 12 and varies in colour, texture, and density. In some women, the hair extends up to the navel.
The labia majora are two soft folds of outer skin covered in hair that cushion and protect the vaginal opening. The labia minora are small, sensitive lips just inside the labia majora. They become engorged when a woman is aroused, providing a tighter grip around the penis.There are glands in the labia minora that secrete a small amount of fluid during sexual arousal.
If you pull the labia majora apart with your fingers, you will see the clitoris at the top of the folds. It is a small rounded piece of tissue that is very sensitive to sexual stimulation. It becomes stiff and enlarged when a woman is sexually aroused. Touching other erogenous areas of the body like the breasts and the neck can also result in the erection of the clitoris. Directly below the clitoris is the urethral opening through which you urinate.
The hymen, the guardian of your virginity, is a thin tissue-like membrane that partially covers the vagina, leaving a small opening for vaginal and menstrual discharge. Some women are born without hymens; some hymens tear during sport activities like riding and bicycling or when women have sex for the first time.
Internal female anatomy
The vagina is an elastic tunnel about 3-5 inches long that connects the cervix to the outside of your body. It performs serves several functions: the menstrual flow passes through it; so does sperm on the way to the uterus; this is where the penis is inserted during intercourse and it also serves as the birth canal during childbirth. The length of the vagina does not affect ease of delivery or the degree of sexual enjoyment. Since the entrance to the vagina is more sensitive than the back, the length of your partner's penis doesn't make a difference. In other words, size doesn't matter.
If you insert your hands into your vagina, you may feel something hard and dimpled. This is the cervix, which is the mouth of the uterus. It is very small and will not allow a penis, a finger or a tampon to enter, but it can stretch enough to let a baby through at the time of delivery.
The uterus is a muscular organ about the size of a fist. This is where the foetus grows for nine months during pregnancy. The contraction of the uterine muscles in a pregnant woman marks the beginning of the birth process.
There are two openings at the upper end of the uterus that lead to a pair of fallopian tubes. This is where the sperm, after surviving the journey through the vagina, cervix and uterus meets the egg and fertilizes it. The inside of the tubes is lined with microscopic hairs that help the fertilized egg on its journey to the uterus where it becomes embedded in the uterine lining.
The ovaries are a pair of almond-sized organs located on either side of the uterus adjacent to the opening of each fallopian tube. The ovaries produce eggs and the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Normally, an egg is released once every month and travels down the fallopian tubes into the uterus. If it is fertilized, it is implanted in the uterine lining. If it isn't, it will be discarded in the menstrual flow. That is why one of the signs of pregnancy is a missed period.