A Glossary of Women's Intimate Anatomy
There’s not a lot of conversation around the complex organs of the general outer genitalia, replete with sensation and opportunities for increased pleasure. Mostly we focus on what is generally (inaccurately) called “the clitoris” because it has so many nerve endings, and ignore all the rest of the parts. This leaves a lot of unexplored territory down there.
MONS PUBIS - Latin for “pubic mound.” The mons pubis is the area of skin and subcutaneous fatty tissue that rests on top of the pubic symphysis of the pubic bones, protecting this joint. The mons pubis begins to exhibit hair growth at the onset of puberty, and contains glands that produce pheromones. There are great places along the mons pubis to apply pressure for general tension release. Explore! Working from outside in, the next thing you will encounter are the...
LABIA MAJORA – Literally “large lips,” this pair of rounded, meaty outer skin folds contains oil and sweat glands. It protects and (sometimes) covers a woman’s more delicate inner structures. As you're looking at your parts, moving from the outer labia inward, you’ll notice a place where the skin’s texture changes. This is where the skin changes as it meets the more keratinized skin on the labia minora. This is called the HART’S LINE.
Next are the LABIA MINORA. This pair of thin inner skin folds located on either side of the vaginal opening. Varying in length, width, shape, and pigmentation, this highly vascular structure has protective functions as well as oil glands and a number of nerve endings and receptors. The inner lips can be of many shapes and sizes- it’s not uncommon for the inner lips to protrude from the outer lips.
Inside of the labia minora, at the very top, is the CLITORAL HOOD – Also known as the clitoral prepuce, this fold of skin protects and helps maintain sensitivity of the glans clitoris. Interestingly, it is the same kind of tissue as the foreskin, the skin that protects the head of the penis in naturally intact uncircumcised males.
Underneath the hood is the GLANS CLITORIS - Usually, this is what people think of as the clitoris itself. But this button-like external structure is only a small part of the larger hidden system of the clitoris. The size, shape, and color may vary for the glans clitoris, a structure that contains around 8,000 nerve endings vital for arousal and sexual response. It can be barely findable or up to two inches long when engorged.
As you spread the inner lips, open, you are in the VESTIBULE – The part of the vulva between the labia minora into which the URETHRA and the vaginal introitus open, you will see the urethral opening - This is where urine exits the body.
You will also see the opening to the VAGINA – The elastic muscular tube structure of the female genital tract through which sexual intercourse, childbirth, and menstruation all occur. As you’re exploring, try different kinds of touch, rolling, squeezing and stroking, and note the multitude of sensations on each of these external genitalia, and how they roll out into your body.
To learn more, purchase our book, "The Invitation: Daily Love For Your Intimate Self," or visit ISSWSH's educational portal www.Prosana.org.