We, at Bloody Amazing feel that it is so important to learn these words and be aware of where in your body they are. This means we are more likely to feel free of shame or embarrassment when we talk about them. Often we grow up using words like "fairy" or "flower" to describe our vulva or vagina. This sends the message that talking about these parts of our bodies is frowned upon, when this shouldn't be the case. We often refer to our genitals as our "private parts" in society. This means that they are ours and we need to give other people permission to touch or be near them, but they should not be so private that we are ashamed to talk about them and aspects of our bodies. It also means that will have a shared terminology based on anatomy and science - so when we talk to other people about our/their bodies, we know exactly what we/they are referring to, this might include doctors, nurses or sexual health providers.
We are going to learn about the correct names for parts of the female genitalia, both external (meaning outside) and internal (meaning inside)
*It may be the case that if you are transitioning and taking m or you are intersex that your external genitalia does not look like the pictures below. Please do not look at this page, if, for whatever reason you will find it triggering.
The Vulva is the term for the external genitalia/reproductive system meaning everything you can see on the outside. You will often hear the vulva incorrectly referred to as the vagina, but although the vaginal opening can be seen externally, the vagina itself is internal. Below is an explanation of the parts of the vulva:
Mons Pubis/pubic mound – This pad of fatty tissue covering the pubic bones where pubic hair grows.
The labia majora (outer lips) are usually the same colour as your skin and pubic hair will often grow on them. The labia minora (inner lips) might be the same or a similar colour to your nipples and help protect the urethra and vagina.
Glans Clitoris – Your clitoris has a hood to protect it as it can be very sensitve, you will be able to see the clitoral hood at the top of the vulva inside the labia minora. The glans clitoris is under the hood and the rest of the clitoris is internal.
Urethral/bladder opening – the urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder, the urethral opening which is where our urine comes from, is located between the labia minora below the clitoris and above the vaginal opening.
Vaginal opening – the vagina is a muscular tube connecting the uterus to the outside of the body and the opening is the beginning of this tube. It is located below the urethra and above the anus.
Anus – is the external opening of the rectum and is where we poo from. The anus is separated from the vagina by the perineum.
It is so important to note that all vulvas look different. People can be so paranoid, in particular about their labia minora (inner lips). It is normal for these to be all colours and sizes, depending on your skin colour etc. It is normal to have labia minora that are 'neat' and tucked away within your labia majora (outer lips) and quite difficult to see. It is JUST AS NORMAL to have labia minora (inner lips) which hang over and/or are visible over your labia majora. You might have one that is bigger than the other and they might also be slightly different textures - this is all okay and normal. We are all different
You might find it helpful to look on The Vulva Gallery, both online and on Instagram - where you are bound to find a vulva similar to yours.
The Vagina is a muscular tube that connects the uterus to the vulva, this is where we bleed from during our period, where you insert a tampon or menstrual cup, where a penis, finger or sex toy is inserted during penetrative sex and where a baby is born from in a vaginal birth.
The Cervix is the lowest part of the uterus, there is a small hole in the middle of it which allows menstrual blood to exit and sperm to enter. During a vaginal birth, your cervix dilates (opens) to allow the baby to exit. At all other times it remains closed, meaning you cannot lose a tampon or cup inside your body, it will stay in the vagina until removed.
The endometrium is the lining of the uterus, this thickens if conception (the egg being fertilised by a sperm) occurs and a fertilised egg implants into it but if you are not pregnant you shed the endometrium and the unfertilised egg as period blood.
The ovaries are where the eggs are produced, the ovaries also produce hormones. When we are born, our ovaries (although tiny) contain all the eggs we will ever have.
The Fallopian tubes attach the ovaries to the uterus and each month an egg travels along a fallopian tube. Fertilisation by a sperm usually occurs within the fallopian tube with the fertilised egg then travelling to the uterus.