anatomy of the vulva (2023)

The vulva is the external part of the female genitalia.anatomy. The pubic area, also called the genitalia, includes the clitoris and the inner and outer lobes called the labia majora and labia minora. These valves protect the female genitals, urethra, vestibule and vagina.

A variety of health problems can occur in the vulva, including vulvar cancer, bacterial infections, and various sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

This article discusses the anatomy and function of the vulva. It describes the normal differences between people and explains the health problems that can affect that part of the body.

anatomy of the vulva (1)

anatomy of the vulva

Anatomically speaking, the vulva is a general name for all structures of the female external genitalia. Here is a detailed overview of these structures.


publish icomposed of adipose tissueJust in front of the pubic bone. It is usually prominent, visible from the outside, and pubic hair grows on it.

The mons pubis helps cushion the area during intercourse and contains sebaceous glands that secrete hormones associated with sexual attraction.

big lips

The feature, named after the Latin term for "larger lips," consists of two prominent folds of skin that cover the labia minora.clitoris, vulvar vestibulus, vestibular bulbs, Bartholin's glands andGlandula de Skene,urethraand the vagina (see below).

The front (anterior) part of this feature forms a fold under the pubic bone called the angle of the lips.

small lips

The "small lips" of the vulva, a pair of skin folds that appear on the clitoris. The front forms the clitoral lid and frenulum before descending. At the same time, they also form the border of the vestibule of the vulva.

The posterior parts of the labia minora come together, separating them from the labia majora.

When these folds come together, they form what is known as the frenulum of the labia minora. This part of the body fills with blood during sexual excitement.


The clitoris is an important sexual organ in women. It is divided into the glans and the body, which rest on the underlying tissue called the corpus cavernosum.

During awakening, this tissue is filled with blood. They join and protrude beyond the vulva to form the head of the clitoris.

On the sides, the ends of this tissue form the clitoris and the lower legs or "legs" of her body. On the other hand, the head of the clitoris (which has many arteries and nerves) is the visible protrusion of the clitoris.

vestibular ball

These two balls are made of erectile tissue and appear near the back of the body of the clitoris. These features extend along the central edge of the clitoris and lead to the urethra and vagina.

At this point, the vestibular bulb divides and surrounds the lateral borders of these features.

vestibule of the vulva

This is the area between the two labia minora. Its upper end comes out from under the clitoris and ends in the back fold of the labia minora.

This smooth surface contains the openings of the urethra and vagina. Its boundaries are called Hart's lines and are formed by the edge of the labia minora.

Bartholin's gland

Sometimes called the major vestibular glands, they are two pea-sized structures located behind and slightly to the side of the vaginal opening.

Glandula de Skene

Also known as the minor vestibular glands, they are located on either side of the urethra.


An extension of the bladder (which allows urine to leave the body) is a tube-like structure.


The vagina is an elastic, muscular tube that extends from the cervix through the vestibule of the vulva to the outer surface. The opening of this organ is partially covered by hymen (a thin layer of skin). This opening is behind the opening of the urethra.

parts of the female reproductive systemanatomy of the vulva (2)

Anatomical variations of the vulva

The female genitalia, especially the size and color of the clitoris, labia majora and labia minora, and the vaginal opening, differ from person to person.

Basically, these changes are related to the amount of estrogen activity during puberty, with larger and thicker lines associated with a greater presence of estrogen during this period.

The biggest differences are in the size, color and structure of the labia majora and labia minora, and some women have more pronounced folds.

In other cases, the clitoris and hood are larger and more prominent.

But these differences mostly do not affect the functionality.

congenital variation

In addition, there have been rare cases of congenital variants of the vulva affecting the physiology of the uterus and vagina. There are four categories of this class:

  • one type:It is an abnormal development of the uterus and vaginal canal. The most common problem is Mayer-Rokinatsky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome, in which the uterus, cervix and upper part of the vagina do not develop normally.
  • Second category:This category refers to vertical fusion disorders that result in cervical abnormalities and obstructive or non-obstructive septal (wall) deformities. This can affect the function of the vulva.
  • Third category:This type of lateral fusion disorder describes the doubling of anatomical features of the vulva. This often results in multiple uteruses and can be obstructive (impairing function) or non-obstructive.
  • Level IV:The last category represents combinations of the above-mentioned disadvantages.

function of the vulva

The vulva is mainly associated with sexual function. In addition to being directly involved in sexual intercourse, the vulva protects hormone production and the reproductive tract.

It also participates in the excretion of urine. Inside the vulva is the urethra, which carries urine from the bladder out of the body.

During sexual activity, the vulva is a key figure. During sexual arousal, various areas fill with blood, including the labia minora and labia majora, the clitoris, and the vestibular bulbs. This changes the shape of the vagina, stimulates sexual pleasure and helps better lubrication during intercourse.

These physiological changes also help increase the chances of conception, as the secretion of female hormones mixes with the male sperm stored in the vagina, giving the egg a chance to fertilize itself.

Relevant conditions

Of the many diseases or conditions that can affect the vulva, many are sexually transmitted, including chlamydia, syphilis, HPV, and more.


ClamidiaIt is caused by a bacterial infection caused by sexual contact. Although it can be asymptomatic, the disease can also cause burning, pain and inflammation in the urethra and cervix.

If left untreated, it can lead toPelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause discomfort in women, as well as ectopic pregnancy or infertility.

Treatment usually consists of taking antibiotics such as tetracyclines or macrolides.


It often occurs with chlamydia,gonorrheais the result of an infectionNeisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria.

Symptoms are also similar to those listed above, including cervical and urethral discharge, swelling and pain, and the risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease.

Antibiotics such as cephalosporins can be used to treat this condition.


result of infectionTreponema pale bacteria,syphilisAlthough it is usually asymptomatic at first, it can present with fever, rash, sores and genital lesions (similar to warts). Lymph nodes may also become inflamed and swollen.

If left untreated, further progression is alarming, including brain damage and a host of other neurological symptoms.

The antibiotic penicillin is used to treat this condition.

Herpes simplex tipa 1 i 2

also known asgenital herpes, these conditions lead to the formation of lesions on the vulva.

Although there is no cure for these conditions, symptoms come and go and can be managed when they occur.

human papilloma virus (HPV)

virus del VPHProminent cauliflower-like lesions (genital warts) in the vulva or genital area. They are caused by a viral infection and usually go away on their own.

In some cases warts can become chronic and lead to cancer.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

This viral infection is initially asymptomatic, but can become very dangerous because it attacks important aspects of the immune system and can weaken immune function.

Going wellHIVKnown as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), the disease is characterized by the presence of other opportunistic infections, many of which affect the vulva.

To date, there is no cure for HIV. However, drug therapy can control the virus.

Hepatitis B i C

characterized by inflammation of the liver,hepatitisIt is usually asymptomatic by itself, although it can lead to cirrhosis or other dangerous conditions.

Although there is a vaccine for hepatitis B, there is no vaccine for the other forms. There is also no cure for these types of diseases.

Since sexual contact is a common cause of infection, preventative measures are recommended to stay safe.

pubic lice (crabs)

Although not exclusively sexual, sexual contact is the most common mode of transmission.Transmission of lice affecting pubic hair.It is on the outside of the vulva.

These tiny crayfish-like creatures can cause intense itching, blood stains on underwear and tiny white dots on pubic hair. They also develop bluish spots on other parts of the body.

Most people can self-diagnose this condition. Treatment consists of washing the area with special soap and abstaining from sexual activity for about 14 days.

other disorders of the vulva

In addition, a number of other conditions can affect this part of the body, including:

  • urinary tract infection (UTI):UTI is a very common condition and is a bacterial infection of the urinary tract. This can lead to symptoms such as an increased need to urinate, painful urination, and cloudy, foul-smelling urine. It is very treatable and usually caused by bacteria.Escherichia coli.
  • Bartholin's cysts and abscesses:Occasionally, cysts form in the Bartholin's glands, which affect their ability to secrete the necessary hormones. If this cyst becomes infected, it can continue to grow and form an abscess.
  • lichen sclerosus:This is an unpleasant condition characterized by chronic itching of the vulva due to irritation. Due to scratching, this can lead to thickening (or lichenification) of the tissue under the vulva as the skin thins. Steroids can treat it.
  • vulvitis:Also known as vulvar pruritus, this condition is characterized by vaginal discharge as well as inflammation, itching, burning, redness, swelling and blistering of the vulva.It can happen to women of any age and is the result of an infection, allergic reaction or injury. Treatment includes wearing loose clothing or taking a sitz bath to relieve discomfort. The doctor may also prescribe a topical estrogen cream or use a cortisone ointment.
  • vaginal candidiasis:Also known as a vaginal yeast infection, this yeast infection can cause vaginal itching and pain, painful intercourse, painful or uncomfortable urination, and/or abnormal vaginal discharge. Although most cases are relatively mild, some can develop into more serious infections, causing cracking, bleeding and inflammation.Treat cases with specific antifungal medications prescribed by your doctor; these drugs are topical or oral.
  • hymen atresia:This rare case is characterized because the hymen does not allow the passage of substances. In girls who have already menstruated, this can cause blood and other materials shed during menstruation to become trapped. The treatment consists of perforation of the area for drainage.
  • cancer of the vulva:Cancer of the vulva is rare, and the most common form is squamous cell carcinoma. It can be a consequence of the progression of HPV or lichen sclerosis.


Screening and examination of the vulva is an important aspect of women's health. Early detection of health problems can greatly improve outcomes, especially in the case of sexually transmitted infections and cancer.

Additionally, testing and examining this part of the body can be challenging, especially if there are no symptoms. The following are common tests.

biopsy of the vulva

To detect the presence of vulvar cancer, the specialist will perform a physical examination of the pelvis and may request a biopsy of the vulva.

This is a test where a small piece of tissue is removed and examined under a powerful microscope to detect the presence of cancer or precancerous cells.

When selecting an area for examination, the doctor may use a special device called a colposcope to magnify it.

If the results are positive, other tests may be done to assess how far the cancer has spread.

dark field microscope

Although most cases of syphilis are tested using a blood sample, the last option is to test the sample using a special dark field microscope.

If an open wound is found on the vulva, the doctor may take a sample and use it for evaluation.

HPV test

If the HPV genital warts are on the vulva, the doctor may request a sample of cells from that area to test for the virus.However, most of these tests are done on samples taken from the cervix.

herpes test

If genital herpes sores appear on the vulva, a smear test can be done.Additionally, the disease can be difficult to diagnose between outbreaks.

Urine analysis

A urine sample is used to evaluate a variety of health conditions, including diabetes, liver health, and pregnancy.

Individuals with female anatomy will need to open the labia and clean the area with sterile wipes and a special urethral cleansing wipe before providing a urine sample.This ensures that uncontaminated samples are tested.


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