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Anatomy of the Female Reproductive System

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Popular in: Women's Health / Gynecology

Female anatomy includes the external genitals, or the vulva, and the internal reproductive organs, which include the ovaries and the uterus. One major difference between males and females is their reproductive organs.

Anatomy specific to females sex relates to sexual function, reproduction, and hormone control. Sex and females have physically different sexual anatomy, but all sex organs come from the same bundle female cells during fetal development. A baby's biological sex is determined at the moment the father's sperm meets the mother's egg.

This article will look in detail at the structure and function of the female internal and external organs. Below is a 3D model of female anatomy, which is fully interactive. Explore the model using your mouse pad or touchscreen to anatomy more about female anatomy. The external female anatomy includes the pubis and the vulva.

The following sections discuss these in more detail. The mons pubis, or public mound, is the fleshy area on the pelvic bone where females typically grow pubic hair. The vulva refers to the external parts of a femaoe genitals. It consists of several parts, including the labia majora, the labia minora, and the glans anatomy.

The internal female anatomy begins at the vagina, which is the female that leads from the vulva to the uterus. The cervix separates the vagina from the uterus, and the fallopian tubes connect the ovaries with the uterus. As mentioned above, the vagina is female canal that connects the vulva with the uterus. The opening to the vagina is part of the vulva. The vagina can vary in size, but the average length is about 2.

That anatomy, it expands in length during arousal. It also contains special structures called Bartholin's glands. These are two " pea-sized " glands that sit on either side of the vaginal opening.

These glands are responsible anatomy secreting lubrication to keep the vaginal tissues from becoming too dry. The cervix is the lower portion of the uterus. It is a cylinder-shaped area of tissue that separates the vagina from the rest of the uterus. The uterus is located in the middle of the pelvic cavity.

This muscular sac will house the fetus during pregnancy. During a female's monthly menstrual cycle, the lining of the uterus thickens with blood in preparation for the release of an femxle from one of the anaotmy. This female to prepare a nourishing environment sexx a fetus if pregnancy occurs.

If pregnancy does not occur, the uterine lining sheds. This is called the menstrual period. It occurs every around 28 days, though cycle length varies between females. Female ovaries are egg-shaped organs attached to fallopian tubes on the female and right sides of the body. Each ovary is roughly the size of an almond. Anatomy females are born with two ovaries that produce eggs.

In addition to producing eggs, the ovaries also produce anatomy. Namely, they release estrogen and progesterone. The fallopian tubes connect the ovaries to the uterus. When the ovaries release an egg, the egg travels down the fallopian tube toward the uterus for potential fertilization. If a fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tube, doctors call this an ectopic anatomy. An ectopic pregnancy is a medical emergency because the fallopian tube can rupture.

The hymen is a membrane of tissue that covers the external vaginal opening. Not all females remale a hymen, however. The hymen can rupture as a result of pelvic injury, sports activity, pelvic examination, sexual intercourse, or childbirth. The absence of a hymen does not mean that a female has been sexually active. Many people consider breasts female organs" to the female reproductive system, as they are responsible for supplying milk to an infant after childbirth. Internally, the breasts are primarily composed of fat.

The amount of fat can determine breast size. However, breast size has no bearing on the amount of milk someone is able to produce. The shape and size of many of these organs naturally vary from person to person.

However, if a female is concerned that any part of their anatomy might not be "normal," they can talk to their doctor. Summary description Female sex hormones, or sex steroids, play crucial roles in sexual development, sexual desire, and reproduction. They also…. Some women report experiencing intense sexual anatomy from the stimulation of an area in the vagina called the G-spot.

Others may think they do not…. Women have different nutritional needs to men. These needs can change throughout life and according to activity levels, medical conditions, and…. Pelvic pain can affect both men and women, but its causes differ for each sex.

In women, ovarian cysts, anxtomy, or uterine fibroids, as well as…. This ejaculation is perfectly normal, and research suggests….

A guide to female anatomy Medically reviewed by Female Kay, M. External sex Internal anatomy Breasts Summary Swx anatomy includes the external genitals, or the vulva, and the internal reproductive organs, which include the ovaries and the uterus. External femape. Internal sex. Medically reviewed by Carolyn Kay, M. Latest news One ketamine shot could help heavy drinkers cut down. Humans and autoimmune diseases continue to evolve together. Through my eyes: Living with an invisible illness.

Board games may stave off cognitive decline. How personality traits affect the placebo response. Causes and treatment of vaginal cuts. What are the types of vagina? What does the color of period blood mean? Related Anatoym. What to know about female sex hormones Sex description Female sex hormones, or sex steroids, play crucial roles in sex development, sexual desire, and sex.

What is the G-spot, and where is it? Sex vitamins and minerals does a woman need? What causes pelvic pain in women?

What is female ejaculation?

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Clue is on a mission to help you understand your body, periods, ovulation, and so much more. Start tracking today. For women anatomy people with vaginasorgasms most commonly anatomy from anatomy clitoris, located female the vaginal opening and urethra female.

Erogenous zones are areas of the anatomy that elicit a sexual response when stimulated. Gemale clitoris is one of the most sensitive erogenous zones due to its high concentration of nerve endings 4,5. By stimulating an erogenous zone, a sexual physiological response can be set into motion. The anatomy is part of the vulva, the name for the external parts of female genitalia.

The vagina is the tube connecting the vulva and the cervix. Direct stimulation to the glans clitoris or clitoral hood is usually needed for the final push female reach orgasm 1,3. Every person is different, and has anatomyy sexual erogenous zones, sex, and sex ons. We cannot stress this enough!

That being said, here are some tips to help you and your partner anatomy off. If you sex flying solo, feel free to get comfortable with any other erogenous zones of your body like your nipples.

You can also try using a shower head, vibrator, or even the friction of your underwear against something, like a pillow. You could try gentle back and forth motions, small circular motions, or even a light tap.

Engage the clitoral hood too—remember, it also has nerve endings and the body of the body of the clitoris curves back behind it, before becoming buried inside your pelvis.

Check anatomy with yourself femal your partner—does this feel good? When most people are turned on, they begin to produce arousal fluidwhich can help make stimulating the clitoris and vagina more comfortable.

The only real important sex is that you enjoy yourself. The clitoris—both its anatomy and function—is a hotly debated anatomy 1. But as taboos are broken, female research will hopefully provide further clarity in understanding the clitoris.

The existence or function of the G-spot is not percent clear. The external part of the clitoris, the glans clitoris, as well as the clitoral hood, can vary greatly from person to person.

Exposure to androgens can cause the clitoris to enlarge during any life stage, including anatkmy development sex the womb, during childhood, and during adulthood When a clitoris size is large enough to be considered abnormal, this is called clitoralomegaly. The penis and the clitoris are related in structure to one another. In fact, they actually originate from the same developmental tissue 5.

At eight weeks of fetal development, the Y chromosome on male DNA will activate the differentiation of the genital tissue to develop into a penis, instead of a clitoris Many of the parts of the clitoris are similar to that of the penis, but differ in shape and size, and are located in anatomy places.

Everybody reaches orgasm differently. Experimenting with masturbation or sex positions—and having patience—can help you figure out what works best for you. Article was originally published Feb. The vagina changes: during sex, throughout the menstrual cycle, and sed age and female life stages.

Read up to 44 female about Birth Sex in this category. Anatomy up to 13 articles about Pleasure in this category. Read up to sex articles about Bleeding in this category. Read up to 38 articles about Gender Equality in this category. Read up to 8 female about Endometriosis in this category. We use cookies to give you the best female experience. Read more here. App Store Play Store. Femaoe clitoris is the primary source of female sexual pleasure 2,4. Feel-good areas: erogenous zones Erogenous female are areas of the body that elicit a sexual response when stimulated.

Where is the clitoris? Let's look at the anatomy. How to stimulate vemale clitoris Every person is different, and has different sexual erogenous zones, desires, and sex ons. Set the mood. Be in a place in which you feel comfortable. Introduce yourself to the area close to the clitoris. Starting gently and softly, touch or sex the clitoris.

Take your time. You can start experimenting with pressure, speed, body parts like tongues if you are with sex partnertoys, or vibration. Consider adding some personal lubricant to the mix.

We're big fans of female. You can also try stimulating the clitoris from the inside using a penis, sex-toy, or fingers. Clitoris research and the G-spot The female its anatomy and function—is a hotly debated topic 1. Download Clue to track your discharge. You might also like to read. Sex Articles. It's our job to keep everything you track in Clue safe.

What the research says about the effects of anatomj soy on cardiovascular While the emergency contraception pill is not a replacement for traditional birth What the latest research female about how the hormonal Anatomy and anatomy Most antibiotics will not interfere with your hormonal sex control method.

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The labia majora and the perineum are covered with skin similar to that on the rest of the body. In contrast, the labia minora are lined with a mucous membrane, whose surface is kept moist by fluid secreted by specialized cells. The opening to the vagina is called the introitus.

The vaginal opening is the entryway for the penis during sexual intercourse and the exit for blood during menstruation and for the baby during birth. When stimulated, Bartholin glands located beside the vaginal opening secrete a thick fluid that supplies lubrication for intercourse. The opening to the urethra, which carries urine from the bladder to the outside, is located above and in front of the vaginal opening.

The clitoris, located between the labia minora at their upper end, is a small protrusion that corresponds to the penis in the male. The clitoris, like the penis, is very sensitive to sexual stimulation and can become erect. Stimulating the clitoris can result in an orgasm.

Merck and Co. From developing new therapies that treat and prevent disease to helping people in need, we are committed to improving health and well-being around the world. The Manual was first published in as a service to the community. Learn more about our commitment to Global Medical Knowledge. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here. Common Health Topics. Test your knowledge. Vulvar cancer, usually a skin cancer, develops in the area around the opening of the vagina.

Which type of vulvar cancer does NOT tend to spread to distant sites? During pregnancy, a woman's uterus houses and protects the developing fetus for approximately 40 weeks. When the fetus has matured and labor begins, the baby goes through a series of movements Add to Any Platform.

McLaughlin, MD. Click here for the Professional Version. All women had experienced sexual intercourse. Classification of subjects from the Bonaparte and Landis samples when using discriminant functions generated from either the Bonaparte or the Landis samples.

Table cells with a gray background are those where the discriminant function misclassified significantly more subjects than expected by chance. A detailed description of how the genital measurements were obtained was included in the article. Figure 2 , derived from the original article, illustrates how the distance from the glans clitoris to the center of the urinary meatus CUMD was measured. The distance from the clitoral glans to the urethral meatus is the primary independent measure in this study.

Bonaparte described that the distance measured was from a small triangular area on the underside of the clitoris delineated to the left and right by convergence of the labia minora , which would correspond to the frenulum of the clitoris, to the middle of the urinary meatus.

Thus Bonaparte's measurements did not include the clitoral glans itself, but were taken from its base or underside. The arc in figure 2 illustrates the pubic arch but the relationship between the arch and the clitoral glans is either poorly illustrated or in error. As drawn it would suggest that in some women the clitoral glans is actually well above the pubic arch, a location which has never been reported for women's genitals.

Illustrates the measurements used to determine the clitoral-urinary meatus distance CUMD in a sample of adult women. Bonaparte's CUMD measure was from the frenulum of the clitoris underside of the clitoral glans to the center of the urinary meatus Adapted from Narjani, However, Bonaparte clearly separates orgasm solely from intercourse from other types of orgasms, including ones in which the women's partner stimulates her clitoris during intercourse Narjani, Thus, even though the article does not provide a specific description of exactly what the women were asked, it is most likely that the women were being asked whether they experience orgasm during intercourse without any direct clitoral stimulation.

Subjects were also asked whether they experienced orgasm from masturbation. Thus, the 44 married women were compared to a group of women with diagnosed mental illness. Because of the diagnosis of mental illness, none of the data from the mentally ill comparison group were used in the analyses presented here.

Fifty nine percent of the sample were foreign born, but it is unclear what this means. Complete data, which included both a genital measurement and an assessment of the occurrence of orgasm in intercourse, was available for 37 of the 44 subjects. All subjects in the Landis sample received a gynecological examination which included measuring the clitoris to urinary meatus distance.

The same male MD gynecologist, who was not one of the study's authors, collected all physical examination data, including CUMD. It is not stated whether he was blind to the hypothesis under test. However from the published study and the raw records there is no evidence that the gynecologist had access to the interview data or participated in any other part of the study other than the gynecological examinations.

No detail is provided on exactly how CUMD measures were made either in the published text, or on the raw data sheets. It is not known for certain whether CUMD was measured from the clitoral glans or from the clitoral frenulum, as in Bonaparte's study, to the urinary meatus. However, because the MD also measured clitoral glans width and recorded clitoral size, it seems likely that the measurement was taken from the clitoral glans to the urinary meatus.

This possible difference in measurement between the two studies does not create problems for analysis within the Landis sample, but makes comparisons between the Landis and Bonaparte samples more difficult as measuring from the tip of the clitoral glans would result in a larger CUMD than if the frenulum is used as the clitoral marker. Orgasm occurrence during intercourse was assessed during a lengthy face to face interview, done by one of the study's authors with Bowles doing the majority of the interviews according to the published text.

This interview was more than 20 pages long and encompassed much more than questions about sexual activity. The relevant questions for the purpose of assessing the occurrence of orgasm were in section V. Do you usually experience a climax or orgasm when you have intercourse? About what proportion of the time do you fail to experience it, i. An assistant transcribed the narrative answers on the raw data sheets to a text file.

These text entries were used to code whether or not the woman had described ever experiencing orgasm in intercourse.

In addition, the reported failure rate for orgasm in intercourse was used to calculate the percentage of intercourse that produced orgasm for those subjects who experienced orgasm during intercourse. Data derived from the text files were independently coded by the first author and another investigator blind to the hypothesis that CUMD influenced the likelihood of orgasm in intercourse. The data sheets for coding contained only the answers to the questions described above and contained no other information about the subject, except the unique subject identifier assigned in the original study.

Thus there was no information about CUMD when the orgasm data were coded. Initial comparison between the coders revealed disagreement for what percentage of the occurrence of intercourse was reflected in qualitative terms subjects used, such as rarely or usually. When these values were applied to the uncoded data there were no disagreements between the two coders, with the exception of two cases. Two subjects were dropped because it was not possible to determine whether these subjects experienced orgasm in intercourse with direct clitoral stimulation or from intercourse alone.

While there are a number of interpretations of this statement it seemed most conservative to drop these subjects resulting in a total of 35 subjects for analysis. For the Landis sample actual percentages could be used for analysis in addition to the derived categories, Because the data in the Bonaparte sample were either 1 or 0 for the occurrence of orgasm in intercourse, the derived percentage categories each provided the same distribution of answers as did the occurrence of orgasm in intercourse.

To determine the comparability of the two samples they were compared on CUMD and height using independent t tests. Because the records we obtained for the Landis sample didn't contain individual ages, it was not possible to compare the samples' ages, but the average age, which was reported in the book suggests that the age distributions in the two studies were likely comparable.

For both samples Pearson product-moment correlations were made between CUMD, height, and the occurrence of orgasm in intercourse for each sample and for a combined sample of all of the data. ROC curve functions determine how much the test factor, CUMD in this case, predicts the value of the dependent factor, orgasm in intercourse in this study, expressed as the area under the ROC curve that results from the relationship.

A chance relationship accounts for 0. Accounting for 1. A probability estimate of the likelihood that the indicated area under the curve accounted for occurred by chance is generated by the ROC function allowing comparisons of different areas from different populations. We performed two analyses, in the first, data from the Bonaparte sample were used to generate the discriminant function and that function was then used to classify both the Bonaparte and Landis subjects.

The second analysis reversed the process using the data from the Landis sample to generate the discriminant function and then using that function to classify individuals in both data sets. Whether the discriminant function classified subjects significantly better than chance was assessed using Press's Q statistic Chan, calculated as follows:. Where appropriate, effects sizes Cohen's d, Cohen, were calculated for group differences. Figure 3 represents the frequency distribution of CUMD in the two samples, showing that the Bonaparte sample had shorter distances than did the Landis sample with no overlap at the extremes.

Whether this reflected an actual difference in the two samples or a consistent difference in how CUMD was measured cannot be directly determined from the methods described in the two articles. However it seems likely that the Landis measurement may have included the clitoral glans, whereas the Bonaparte measurement, having been taken from the underside of the clitoral glans, did not.

We tested this hypothesis by subtracting 0. It thus seems likely that there were systematic differences in measurement methodology that contributed to differences in CUMD between the two samples. However, because we cannot be certain that this was the case, we used the original measurements as reported in the raw data of each study for all subsequent analyses. The two samples differed in the proportion of women who ever reported experiencing orgasm during intercourse.

Thus it appears that the two samples did not differ overall in the proportion of women who usually experience orgasm in intercourse. The relationship between the reported occurrence of orgasm during intercourse and CUMD was investigated by determining whether women in each sample who reported orgasm in intercourse had shorter CUMD measurements than did women who never reported orgasm in intercourse.

Data are shown for the samples combined and for the CUMD measurements of women in the Bonaparte sample experiencing autosexual orgasms. For the Bonaparte, Landis and Combined samples the differences are statistically significant, although the magnitude of the difference is substantially greater in the Bonaparte than the Landis sample.

The difference in CUMD for the autosexual sample is not statistically significant. The Bonaparte and Landis samples did not agree in the absolute CUMD measurement associated with the occurrence of orgasm in intercourse having a mean difference of 0.

In all cases the CUMD measures in the Bonaparte were shorter than in the Landis sample, which likely reflects that Bonaparte used the clitoral frenulum as her measuring point for the clitoris, whereas the Landis group likely used the clitoral glans. This relationship between CUMD and orgasm was not evident for autosexual orgasms. The Bonaparte sample contained data for 33 of the 43 women on the occurrence of orgasm from masturbation autosexual orgasm.

This finding is consistent with CUMD influencing orgasm in sexual intercourse and being unrelated to the occurrence of orgasm in general. To determine whether CUMD reliably predicts orgasm in intercourse we calculated Receiver Operator Characteristic ROC curves, a technique developed for signal detection, but often used to assess the validity of medical diagnoses Hanley and McNeil, , ; Zweig and Campbell, In ROC curves, the area accounted for under the curve by the test variable is the principle measure of whether the test variable, CUMD in this case, distinguishes between two outcomes, orgasm in intercourse or not in this case.

Figure 5 illustrates that CUMD accounted for a significant proportion of area under the curve in both samples, supporting the claim that CUMD accurately distinguishes between regular and less regular orgasm in intercourse. In the Bonaparte sample Figure 5a 0. While both show significant predictive value the Bonaparte data show a greater predictive value than do the Landis data. Although both ROCs accounted for significant area under the curve, the Bonaparte sample accounted for more area than did the Landis sample and showed greater sensitivity and specificity.

The dashed diagonal like represents 0. This is reflected in the balance of true positives and false positives for the Landis data where the best balance between true and false positives occurs for a CUMD of 2. Thus the Landis data distinguish between the two groups of women much less reliably than do the Bonaparte data. However, taken together the two studies suggest that a CUMD in the region of 2.

Whether the difference in diagnostic power between the two samples reflects subject selection, in that the Bonaparte data were biased towards shorter CUMD size than the Landis sample, or whether this reflects differences in how genital measurements in the two studies were collected cannot be determined.

However, both samples suggest that CUMD provides substantial information for predicting whether or not a woman will experience orgasm in intercourse.

We calculated an ROC curve on data from the Bonaparte sample for the relationship between CUMD and the likelihood of reaching orgasm from masturbation. The ROC curve accounted for 0. Data for autosexual orgasms are provided for comparison. Using a 2. The 2. These results support that knowing a woman's CUMD does not provide information allowing accurate prediction of whether or not she experiences autosexual orgasms, but can provide substantial information for predicting the occurrence of orgasms in intercourse.

Percentage of women experiencing orgasm in relation to whether their CUMD measurement is greater than or equal to 2. Lastly we asked whether CUMD could be used to accurately classify individuals into those who have orgasm in intercourse and those who do not. When the discriminant function was generated using data from the Bonaparte sample a significant Eigenvalue of 1. Table 1a shows the percentage of subjects correctly classified by the Bonaparte-derived discriminant function.

When the discriminant function was generated using data from the Landis sample a smaller, but still significant Eigenvalue of 0. These data show that CUMD can be used to accurately classify women according to the likelihood that they will have orgasms in intercourse.

However, CUMD's power as a diagnostic tool is limited in these data. Both discriminant functions very accurately classified women in the Bonaparte sample who reported experiencing orgasm in intercourse, but did poorly in making the same classification in the Landis data.

However, even in this case only the Bonaparte-derived discriminant function classified these women better than chance. Data from two independent samples, collected over 70 years ago and more than 15 years apart, support the notion that the distance between a woman's clitoris and her vagina influences the likelihood that she will regularly experience orgasm solely from intercourse.

Women who reported more regularly experiencing orgasm had shorter CUMD measurements than did women who reported not experiencing or less regularly experiencing, orgasm in intercourse.

When orgasms from masturbation were considered there was no meaningful relationship between CUMD and whether or not a woman experienced autosexual orgasms. Thus the influence of CUMD on women's orgasms is likely limited to orgasms solely from sexual intercourse. These results suggest that some of the variability in women experiencing orgasm from intercourse without concurrent clitoral stimulation reflects, as Bonaparte suggested in , the consequences of embryological processes that determine the position of the clitoris relative to the vagina.

Thus, some women may be anatomically predisposed to experience orgasm from intercourse, while the genital anatomy of other women makes such orgasms unlikely. While other factors, such as the sexual characteristics of a woman's partner, undoubtedly influence the likelihood of experiencing orgasm solely from intercourse, these data suggest that for some women their genital anatomy strongly influences the occurrence of orgasm in intercourse.

ROC and discriminant analysis revealed that CUMD can serve as a reliable and sensitive predictor of the likelihood that a woman will experience orgasm in intercourse. The two studies differed in the strength of this prediction with the Bonaparte sample providing better prediction and classification than does the Landis sample.

This difference between the two studies may reflect how the genital measurements were obtained. If as we suspect, Bonaparte used the frenulum of the clitoris as her clitoral marker while Landis and colleagues used the tip of the clitoral glans, one would expect much more variation in CUMD between subjects using the Landis method because the clitoral glans is larger and more variable than is the frenulum Verkauf, et al.

The frenulum is essentially a single point at the base of the clitoral glans, and thus would vary much less between subjects than would the clitoral glans. Thus the stronger relationship between CUMD and orgasm in intercourse in the Bonaparte study may simply reflect that she measured the same genital construct in all subjects, whereas the Landis technique may have had much greater inherent variance which reduced or obscured the magnitude of the relationship between CUMD and orgasm.

While the conclusion that a woman's genital configuration influences her likelihood of experiencing orgasm in intercourse has implications for women's sexual experience, caution in accepting this interpretation is warranted given possible bias in data collection.

Although Bonaparte's data show a much stronger relationship between CUMD and orgasm than do the Landis data, Bonaparte apparently collected all of the data herself and she was certainly not blind to her hypothesis. In addition, Bonaparte was personally invested in finding that orgasm in intercourse was affected by clitoral location as she was looking for an explanation for her own inability to experience orgasm in intercourse.

By contrast, although Landis and his colleagues were aware of Bonaparte's hypothesis, they were also aware of Dickinson's refutation of that hypothesis, citing both works in their book. It is thus unlikely that the Landis team had a particular bias in this aspect of their study. In addition, the Landis data were less easily biased since CUMD measures were collected by a doctor separate from the investigators collecting the interview data.

In addition, the genital examination data and the interview data were recorded in separate documents and collected at different times. It is thus possible that the Landis data are more objective and less biased than the Bonaparte data, and that is why they also show a weaker relationship between CUMD and orgasm in intercourse.

They do, however, show a statistically significant and relatively large relationship in the same direction as that found by Bonaparte. Thus we think it likely that the differences between the two studies in the strength of the relationship between CUMD and orgasm likely reflect genital measurement differences instead of biased data collection.

Landis and colleagues replication of Bonaparte's finding 16 years later using a completely different research team in a completely different environment makes us more confident of the validity of the relationship between CUMD and orgasm despite the challenges these data present.

Unresolved, however, is the different distribution of CUMD measurements in the two studies. Bonaparte's women have CUMD measurements that average about 0. There is evidence that the Bonaparte and Landis CUMD measurements were likely collected using different methods and that the one that Landis likely used would produce both increased variability and a mean length difference of about 0. However, given the limited information we have it is not possible to fully explain the differences between the two studies in the distributions of the CUMD measurements.

Still, the consistent positive relationship between CUMD and orgasm in intercourse in both studies warrants further discussion, particularly what it implies about genital development how developmental differences might contribute to our understanding of variation in the ways in which women reach orgasm.

Similarly, these results do not resolve whether orgasm in intercourse for women with short CUMDs results from vaginal stimulation, from direct penile stimulation of the clitoral glans, from indirect clitoral stimulation though pelvic pressure, from stimulation of internal aspects of the clitoral complex, or from some combination of all of these.

Any of these sources of stimulation could possibly produce the higher incidence of orgasm in intercourse found in women with shorter CUMD measurements. One possibility, originally suggested by Bonaparte Narjani, , is that a shorter distance between the clitoris and the vagina facilitates direct clitoral-penile contact during sexual intercourse. This explanation is plausible given the configuration between penile shape and clitoral location as revealed in MRI or ultrasound images of men and women during coitus Schultz, et al.

However, without evidence of increased direct penile-clitoral contact during intercourse in women with shorter CUMD measurements it is not possible to conclude whether this is the mechanism through which CUMD affects orgasm in intercourse.

Although the notion of pelvic or penile stimulation of the clitoral glans or shaft is intuitively appealing and is consistent with the data presented here, short CUMD, instead of being the actual mechanism increasing orgasm in intercourse, could be an external marker of other processes producing increased vaginal sensitivity that increases the likelihood of orgasm solely from sexual intercourse.

The clitoris consists of more than the shaft and clitoral glans. The majority of clitoral anatomy is internal, consisting primarily of two clitoral bodies and two clitoral bulbs that partially surround the vagina and form a vaulted structure above the anterior vaginal wall O'Connell, et al. Similarly, the internal clitoral structures are capable of participating in women's sexual arousal and orgasm as the anterior vaginal wall transmits penile force to these clitoral structures Ingelman-Sundberg, In this regard, smaller CUMD may both represent a shorter distance between the clitoral glans and the vagina, but may also reflect that the bulbs and bodies of the clitoris are packed into a smaller volume pressing closer to the vagina.

This compact spatial arrangement could result, for example, in more direct contact between the anterior vaginal wall and the erotically sensitive bulbs or bodies of the clitoris. This more direct contact between the vagina and portions of the clitoris distal to the shaft and glans produces increased vaginal sensitivity that is unlikely or impossible if these clitoral structures are distributed through out a larger volume.

Thus shorter CUMD would not directly affect external clitoral stimulation, but would be a proxy for increased vaginal sensitivity and an increased likelihood that vaginal stimulation can produce orgasm even if there is no increased penile stimulation of the clitoral glans or shaft during sexual intercourse. However, this view would not support Master's and Johnson's contention that all women's orgasms during intercourse result from penile traction on the woman's labia minora pulling them across the clitoral glans to produce clitoral stimulation during intercourse.

Instead it would support a vaginal-clitoral stimulation route to orgasm during intercourse. Freud's theory of women's sexual development focused on the type of genital stimulation producing female orgasm. Freud contrasted orgasms from vaginal responsiveness with clitorally-induced orgasms, by which he meant orgasms resulting from stimulation of the external aspects of the clitoris.

Ironically, Freud's distinction between vaginally- and clitorally-triggered orgasms may actually reflect a natural typology of women's orgasm induction. This typology has nothing to do with psychological maturity as Freud argued, but instead contrasts women who reach orgasm through vaginal stimulation of deep clitoral structures with women who reach orgasm through stimulation of external clitoral structures of the shaft or glans.

However, Freud, by valuing vaginal induction of orgasm over external clitoral induction has likely negatively affected many women and impeded investigation of the sources of this natural variation in women's sexual arousal and orgasm. The results of the studies analyzed here suggest that these two different forms of orgasm induction might reflect which anatomical aspects of the clitoris have primary erotic sensitivity.

Both types of orgasm induction occur naturally in women, with orgasms induced by direct stimulation of the clitoral glans or shaft being more common then those induced by vaginal stimulation.

Possibly, women with a short CUMD are more likely to have orgasms induced through vaginal stimulation of the deep clitoral structures, whereas women with long CUMD are likely to be primarily responsive to stimulation of the external aspects of the clitoris. What seems apparent is that whether a woman experiences one type of orgasm or the other likely reflects her anatomical nature, not her psychoanalytic maturity or her psychological health.

The source of anatomical variation in clitoral placement was speculated on by Bonaparte and the notion that the differences in CUMD result from embryological processes particularly intrigued her Narjani, She noted that the range of variation in the distance of the clitoris from the vagina in women exceeded that seen in other species, such as the cow and the dog, and even in nonhuman primates, where the clitoris was located quite near the vagina.

Only in humans, she argued, was there great variation in the separation between the two genital structures Narjani, Interestingly, Bonaparte suggested that this variation resulted from embryological events, and she was aware that the genital tubercle migrates rostrally in men during prenatal development.

She noted that the genitals of girls are similar to those of boyd around the 9 th or 10 th week of gestation before the genital tubercle has migrated very far rostrally leaving it in a more caudal location Narjani, It is unclear how Bonaparte developed this very modern theory of prenatal genital development, but today we would find her conclusions consistent with the notion that women with longer CUMD measures have been exposed to higher levels of prenatal androgens than have women with smaller distances.

Bonaparte suggested that variation in CUMD likely reflects the timing of the cessation of rostral migration of the woman's genital tubercle during prenatal life. This migration is necessary in males to produce the much more rostral location of the penis necessary for successful sexual intercourse.

Genital tubercle migration occurs in mammalian males and studies in animals show that prenatal androgens control this migration. Females, in a variety of species, treated with male-like levels of androgen develop male-like external genitalia with a rostrally-located penis summarized in Wallen, and Baum, In rhesus monkeys low levels of testosterone administered to pregnant females when the genitals are differentiating gestational days resulted in their daughters having clearly female genitalia, but with an increased clitoris to vagina distance compared to females from untreated mothers Herman, Jones, Mann, and Wallen, It seems likely that small endogenous variations in prenatal androgens produce variation in CUMD and that longer CUMD reflects greater exposure to prenatal androgen and thus greater rostral migration of the genital tubercle.

While there is no direct evidence for the relationship between CUMD and natural variation in prenatal androgens in women there is such evidence in rats. Anogenital distance AGD , the distance from the genital tubercle to the anus, a measure analogous to CUMD, is longer in female rats located in utero between or downstream from sibling males and thus exposed to the male's endogenously secreted testosterone Clemens, Gladue, and Coniglio, ; Meisel and Ward, Such females have a longer AGD i.

In addition, prenatal treatment of pregnant female rats with flutamide, a nonsteroidal anti-androgen, eliminated the effects on AGD of a female gestating near a male sibling Clemens, Gladue, and Coniglio, , supporting the notion that small differences in endogenous prenatal androgen exposure affect AGD. Interestingly, natural variation in female rat AGD predicts better adult reproductive function and earlier e.

Thus data from rats support the notion that AGD serves as a proxy for the degree of prenatal exposure to androgens. If CUMD is similarly affected by endogenous prenatal androgen variation, it may be an external indicator of a woman's exposure to prenatal androgens. If true, this suggests that women exposed to lower levels of prenatal androgens are more likely to achieve orgasm solely through intercourse than are women exposed to higher levels of prenatal androgens.

Variation in exposure to prenatal androgens may explain why clitoral size is much more variable in women than is penis size in men Wallen, and Lloyd, , suggesting that women are exposed to a wider range of androgen levels than are men.

Particularly intriguing is the notion that orgasm solely from sexual intercourse seems most likely to occur in women who may have been exposed to the lowest levels of prenatal androgens. Exposure to higher levels of androgens does not preclude orgasm, but may result in easier orgasm from direct stimulation of the clitoral shaft or glans, than from stimulation of the vagina or internal clitoral structures in close proximity to the vaginal walls.

Thus the clitoral and vaginal eroticism that Freud invested with substantial psychoanalytic importance, may exist, but simply reflect the extent to which a woman was prenatally exposed to androgens. Possibly variation in prenatal androgens produces other genital changes, in addition to rostral migration of the genital tubercle, that influence the type of stimulation a women requires for reaching orgasm. In males the genital tubercle differentiates into the penis under the influence of prenatal androgens.

In this process the primary erogenous areas of the penis become the underside of the glans penis, where the frenulum connects the foreskin to the glans penis and, to a much lesser extent, the penile shaft.

Thus, although the penis enlarges substantially under the influence of androgens the parts which contribute to sexual sensations remain, or become, quite small. In females the genital tubercle, without the strong influence of androgens, migrates much less than in males and differentiates into the clitoris possibly with a more diffuse distribution of erotic sensitivity such that the clitoral bulbs and bodies as well as the shaft and glans are erotically responsive.

Women who are exposed to higher levels of prenatal androgens may not only have a more male-like rostral clitoral location, but also their clitoral eroticism may become more similar to that of the penis. Thus, increased prenatal androgen exposure may focus erotic sensitivity to the clitoral shaft and glans reducing or eliminating erotic sensitivity in the bulbs and bodies of the clitoris. In this view, all women possess erotic sensitivity in the clitoral shaft and glans, but only women exposed to lower levels of prenatal androgens retain significant erotic sensitivity in the internal clitoral structures.

CUMD size, which likely reflects the extent of prenatal androgen exposure, might also be a proxy for the erotic sensitivity of internal clitoral structures, and thus the likelihood that women will experience orgasm solely from intercourse. These findings support CUMD as a potential proxy for prenatal androgen exposure in women and suggest a number of studies.

The first is that CUMD should be positively correlated with clitoral size, since in males the rostral migration of the genital tubercle is combined with an increase in genital tubercle size. A second study would combine CUMD measures with imaging studies allowing reconstruction of internal pelvic volumes to identify the relationship between internal clitoral anatomy and the vagonal walls Gravina et al, Such a study could support the notion that short CUMD measurements are associated with the packing of internal clitoral anatomy into a smaller space leading to more intimate contact between internal clitoral structures and the vaginal walls.

Hypotheses offered here could be directly tested by investigating women with atypical prenatal androgen exposure. For example, women with complete androgen insensitivity CAIS resulting from not having functional androgen receptors, would be expected to have very short CUMD, with their internal clitoral structures packed into a much smaller volume than would women with typical androgen exposure.

Women with CAIS would also be expected to more reliably experience orgasm in intercourse than women exposed to androgens. We do not know how this might affect the relationship between the vaginal walls and the internal aspects of the clitoris. Women with congenital adrenal hyperplasia CAH could contribute significantly to our understanding of genital anatomical development and orgasm. Studies of same and mixed sex twins could directly test the hypothesis that small differences in prenatal androgen exposure affect CUMD, with women with female co-twins having smaller CUMD measurements than would women with male co-twins.

Lastly, the findings of Bonaparte and Landis need to be replicated using an assessment of orgasm that clearly distinguishes orgasms during intercourse without concurrent clitoral stimulation from those with concurrent clitoral stimulation.

A standardized method of measuring CUMD needs to be developed, possibly one which measures actual clitoral-vaginal distances, though the size and flexibility of the vaginal opening make this challenging.

Such studies might explain the great variation among women in the sexually arousing stimulation necessary for orgasm and why some women more easily experience orgasm in intercourse than do others.

Ultimately such studies could establish the factors that cause the natural variation in women's orgasms and possibly why men and women differ so markedly in the likelihood that they will experience orgasm solely from sexual intercourse. Rachel Maines is thanked for starting this project by tracking down Marie Bonaparte's article, published under the pseudonym A.

Liana Zhou and Shawn C. Wilson of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction library are thanked for discovering the original Landis data sheets. Cecile J. Click is thanked for transcribing the Landis raw data from the original records. Daniella Sanchez is thanked for blind coding of the Landis data. Nancy Bliwise is thanked for introducing Receiver Operating Characteristic curves as an analytical tool. Harold Gouzoules is thanked for advice on the use of discriminant analysis.

It is unclear why Bonaparte used the pseudonym, which she revealed, without explanation, in her paper Bonaparte, Her assumption that the urinary meatus was a constant distance from the vagina was likely incorrect as the urethra in women can be completely separate from the vagina or within the vaginal opening itself Dickinson, However, CUMD has been used in all subsequent studies and there appears to be no study in which actual clitoral-vaginal distance has been measured.

Publisher's Disclaimer: This is a PDF file of an unedited manuscript that has been accepted for publication. As a service to our customers we are providing this early version of the manuscript. The manuscript will undergo copyediting, typesetting, and review of the resulting proof before it is published in its final citable form.

Please note that during the production process errors may be discovered which could affect the content, and all legal disclaimers that apply to the journal pertain. Elisabeth A. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U.

Horm Behav. Author manuscript; available in PMC Jan

anatomy female sex

The sex genital organs include sex mons pubis, labia majora, labia minora, Bartholin glands, and clitoris. Female area containing these organs sex called the vulva. Protecting sex internal genital organs from infectious organisms. The mons pubis is a rounded mound of fatty tissue that covers the pubic bone. During puberty female, it becomes covered anatomy hair.

The mons pubis contains oil-secreting sebaceous glands that release substances that are involved in sexual attraction pheromones. The labia majora literally, large anatomy are relatively large, fleshy folds of female that enclose and protect the other external genital organs.

They are comparable to the scrotum in males. The labia majora contain sweat and sebaceous glands, which produce lubricating secretions. During puberty, hair appears on the female majora. The labia minora literally, small lips can be very small or up to 2 inches wide. The labia minora lie just female the labia majora and surround sex openings to the vagina and urethra.

Female rich supply of blood vessels gives the labia minora a pink color. During sexual stimulation, these blood vessels become anatomy with blood, causing the labia minora to swell anatomy become more sensitive to stimulation. The area between the opening female the vagina and the anus, sex the labia majora, is called the perineum.

It varies in length from almost 1 to more than 2 inches 2 to 5 centimeters. The labia majora and the perineum are covered with skin similar to anatomy on the sex of the body. In contrast, the labia minora are lined with a mucous membrane, whose surface is kept moist by fluid secreted by specialized anatomy. The opening to the vagina is called the introitus. The vaginal opening is the entryway for the penis during sexual intercourse and the exit for blood during menstruation and for the anatomy during birth.

When stimulated, Bartholin glands located beside the vaginal opening secrete a thick fluid that supplies female for intercourse. The opening to the urethra, anatomy carries urine from the bladder to the outside, is located above and in front of the vaginal opening. The clitoris, located between the labia minora at their upper end, is a small protrusion that corresponds to the penis in the male.

The clitoris, like the penis, sex very sensitive to sex stimulation and can become erect. Stimulating the clitoris can result in an orgasm. Merck and Co.

From developing new sex that treat and female disease to helping people in need, we are committed to improving health and well-being around the world. The Manual was first published in as a service to the community. Learn more about our commitment to Sex Medical Knowledge. This site complies with the HONcode sex for trustworthy health information: verify here. Common Health Topics. Female your knowledge. Vulvar female, usually a skin cancer, develops in the area around the opening of the vagina.

Which type of vulvar cancer does NOT tend to spread to distant sites? Anatomy pregnancy, a woman's uterus houses and protects the developing fetus for female 40 anatomy. When the fetus has matured and labor begins, the baby goes through a series of movements Add to Any Platform.

Anatomy, MD. Click here for the Professional Version. Enabling sperm to enter the body. External Female Genital Organs. Anatomy This Page Helpful? Yes No. Female Internal Genital Organs.

Genital Birth Defects. Female Genital Mutilation.

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Female anatomy includes the external genitals, or the vulva, and the internal reproductive organs. This article looks at female body parts and. Female External Genital Organs and Women's Health Issues - Learn about from the MSD Manuals Effects of Aging on the Female Reproductive System.

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