The vulva are the external female genitals that surround the opening to the vagina; collectively these consist of the labia majora, the labia minora, clitoris, clitoral hood, vestibule of the vagina, vaginal corona (hymen) and the Bartholin’s and Skene’s glands. All of these organs are located in between the anus and below the mons pubis (aka Mons Veneris or pubic mound, the pad of fatty tissue usually covered in pubic hair on top of the pubic bone).
The labia majora are two thick folds of skin running from the mons pubis to the near anus. The outer sides of the labia are covered with pigmented skin, usually darker than the rest of the body’s skin. They also have oil-secreting glands, and after puberty, the outer sides are generally covered in pubic hair. The inner sides are smooth and hairless, with some sweat glands. The scent from these is sexually arousing.
Directly beneath the mons pubis and between the labia majora is the clitoris. The clitoris is a woman’s most sensitive erogenous zone and the primary source of female sexual pleasure. It contains spongy erectile tissue which is highly sexually sensitive. Only the tip or glans of the clitoris shows externally, but the organ itself is elongated and branched into two forks, the crura, which extend downward along the rim of the vaginal opening toward the perineum. Most of the clitoris is an internal organ, and it is much larger than most people think – a few inches long, on average. The clitoral glans or external tip of the clitoris is protected by the prepuce, or clitoral hood, a covering of tissue which generally extends into the labia minora. The clit hood contains nerve endings and is often highly sensitive to the touch. During sexual excitement, the clitoris may extend and the hood may retract to make the clitoral glans more accessible. On some women the clitoral glans is very small; other women may have a larger clitoris that the hood does not completely cover. Clitoris sizes can vary greatly.
The labia minora, the two folds of skin between the labia majora, surround the vestibule of the vagina. They have no fat or hairs. The labia minora vary in size, and may be completely contained within the outer labia, or may be much longer and protrude and extend considerably past the outer edges of the labia majora. They also have a variety of shapes from gentle arcs, almost straight lines, to being described as the shape of “flower petals”, or “butterfly wings”. The skin can range from being wrinkled to smooth. The skin pigmentation can range in colour from pink tones, to brown tones, through to purples and black. The labia minora contain sebaceous and sweat glands, and are often moist.
The vestibule of the vagina (the area between her inner labia where her vaginal and urethral openings are) begins below the clitoris and contains the urethral meatus (pee hole), the vagina, and the ducts of the two Bartholin’s Glands and Skene’s Glands. The urethral opening is a small slit located closest to the clitoris; through this opening urine is passed. Below the urethral opening is the larger, vaginal opening. The Bartholin’s Glands are either side of the bottom of her vaginal hole, and the Skene’s Glands are either side of her urethral opening. The Bartholin’s Glands don’t produce much fluid at all, just one or two drops of mucous lubrication. The Skene’s Glands are a bit of a mystery, and not all women appear to have them. Some think they are where female ejaculation comes from, and they can produce lots of liquid. But strangely not all women have them, which could be why not all women ejaculate.
The vaginal orifice, particularly in virgins, is often surrounded by membranous folds of skin known as the vaginal corona (also known as the hymen). The vaginal corona is often easily stretched, and after normal physical activity, such as sport, inserting tampons, penetrative masturbation, and sexual intercourse, the hymen will stretch or sometimes rupture. The opening of the vagina, and the vaginal corona, may appear smooth, lumpy or with skin fragments or tags.
Running along the sides of the vestibule are two elongated bodies of erectile tissue known as the bulb of the vestibule. Many mucous glands are also present in the vestibular region. Both the labia minora and labia majora tend to cover the vestibule.
Well written, informative. It is sad that people are in despair over normal anatomy. We all have different eyes, mouths, ears etc. Yet there are pressures for some women to think they aren’t ok in genitalia appearance.
I do hope Emma is really an Emma, too. Your site material certainly seems completely open and sincere. Best wishes to all those struggling.