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Understanding Your Reproductive Anatomy

It is important to understand your reproductive anatomy. If you understand your anatomy, you can better understand your health conditions and advocate for yourself in appointments.

Your reproductive system allows you to: have sex, have children, and menstruate. The system contains both internal and external parts. The external parts are those that you can see. The internal parts you cannot see.

External Parts: The external part of your reproductive system is also called the “vulva”.

  • Outer Lips (Labia majora): The outer lips are the area surrounding the rest of your external reproductive organs. When you hit puberty, this area begins to grow hair. The outer lips’ purpose is to enclose and protect your other external reproductive organs.
  • Inner Lips (Labia minora): The inner lips lie inside your outer lips and surround your vagina and your bladder opening. The skin of the inner lips can be easily irritated.
  • Clitoris: Your clitoris is at the top of your inner lips, in the area closest to your belly button. The clitoris is small and very sensitive to stimulation.
  • Vaginal opening: The vaginal opening is closer to the bottom of your inner lips. The opening is where menstrual blood and babies leave the body. It is also where you would insert a tampon for menstrual blood or a penis for sexual intercourse.
  • Hymen: Your hymen covers or surrounds part of your vaginal opening. Over time, the hymen becomes thinner and tears. Most women do not notice when this occurs, however some women experience mild pain and bleeding.
  • Bladder opening: The bladder opening is a small hole between your clitoris and vaginal opening. It is the hole that your pee comes out of.

Internal Parts:

  • Vagina: Your vagina is a muscle and canal that connects the cervix to the outside of your body. It expands to hold a baby during delivery, yet it can be small enough to hold a tampon.
  • Uterus: Your uterus has two parts: the cervix and the corpus. The corpus is the part of your reproductive system that expands during pregnancy and holds your baby. It is also where the tissue forms that prepares your body for a pregnancy. This tissue sheds and becomes menstrual blood once a month if you are not pregnant.
  • Cervix: Your cervix is part of your uterus. It acts as the entrance to the other part of the uterus, the corpus. It is the hole by which menstrual blood leaves the uterus and sperm enters. If you are in labor, your cervix opens (dilates) for the baby to enter the vagina and be born. Oftentimes, your provider will check how dilated you are throughout labor. When you are 10 centimeters dilated, your provider may tell you to push.
  • Ovary: Your ovaries are small glands on either side of your uterus. Their main function is to produce eggs and reproductive hormones.
  • Fallopian Tube: Your fallopian tubes connect your ovaries and your uterus. They provide the path on which an egg moves from an ovary to the uterus. The tubes are also often the site where sperm and egg meet, leading to fertilization.


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Having a Baby? Get Prenatal Care