Saturday, July 08, 2006

There's a Glow In my heart



Human female internal reproductive anatomy.

subject #269 1264

urogenital sinus



The vagina, (from Latin, literally "sheath" or "scabbard" ) is the tubular tract leading from the uterus to the exterior of the body in female placental mammals and marsupials, or to the cloaca in female birds, monotremes, and some reptiles. Female insects and other invertebrates also have a vagina, which is the terminal part of the oviduct.


1 Anatomy

2 Functions of the vagina
2.1 Giving birth

2.2 Menstruation

3 Sexual health and hygiene

4 The vagina and popular culture

5 See also

6 External links


Schematic frontal view of female anatomy.

Schematic vulva anatomy.

The human vagina is an elastic muscular tube about 4 inches (100 mm) long and 1 inch (25 mm) in diameter that connects the vulva at the outside to the cervix of the uterus on the inside. If the woman stands upright, the vaginal tube points in an upward-backward direction and forms an angle of slightly more than 45 degrees with the uterus. The vaginal opening is at the back (caudal) end of the vulva, behind the opening of the urethra. Above the vagina is Mons Veneris. The inside of the vagina is usually pink, as with all internal mucous membranes in mammals.

In common speech, the term "vagina" is often used to refer to the vulva or female genitals generally; strictly speaking the vagina is a specific internal structure and the vulva is the exterior genitalia only. The labia and other parts would be considered parts of the vagina as well in its common usage.

Length, width and shape of the vagina may vary. When a woman gives birth and during sexual intercourse, the vagina widens and lengthens up to 2-3 times.

Vaginal lubrication is provided by glands near the vaginal opening and the cervix and also seeps through the vaginal wall (which does not contain any glands).

The hymen—a membrane situated behind the urethral opening—partially covers the vagina in many organisms, including some human females, from birth until it is ruptured by sexual intercourse, or by any number of other activities including medical examinations, injury, certain types of exercise, introduction of a foreign object, etc.

Functions of the vagina

Human female vulva showing anatomical regions

From a biological perspective, the vagina performs the following functions:

Providing a path for menstrual fluids to leave the body.

Giving birth

Sexual activity

The concentration of nerve endings particularly close to the mouth of the vagina causes pleasure to be experienced during sexual activity. Some women have a very sensitive erogenous zone called the G-spot inside their vagina (in the anterior of the vagina, about five cm in from the entrance), which can produce very intense orgasms if stimulated properly, possibly responsible for the disputed female ejaculation. Not all women have a G-spot that is responsive to stimulation, however.

Giving birth

During live birth, the vagina provides the route to deliver the fetus from the uterus to its independent life outside the body of the mother. During birth, the vagina is often referred to as the birth canal.


The vagina provides a path for menstrual fluids to leave the body. In modern societies, tampons, menstrual cups and sanitary towels may be used to absorb or capture these fluids.

Sexual health and hygiene

Many women insert tampons during menstruation. These must be regularly changed - at least every 4 to 8 hours. Other objects inserted include diaphragms (placed against the cervix, blocking it from sperm), spermicidal cream and lubricant. Additionally, some women use vaginal douches, which serve to cleanse the vagina with a gentle soap intended to remove odor. These days, such treatment is discouraged by doctors, as it may upset the balance of bacteria in the vagina, rather than helping it. The vagina itself needs no particular treatment in the name of basic hygiene.

The vagina is examined during gynecological exams, often using an instrument called a speculum, which keeps the vagina open for visual inspections or taking of samples (see pap smear).

Various disorders can affect the vagina, including vaginal cancer and yeast infections. See vulvovaginal health.

The vagina and popular culture

Western society treats the subject as somewhat taboo. A one-person play by Eve Ensler known as The Vagina Monologues was a rare example of the word appearing in mainstream culture. The popular TV series Sex and the City contains many discussions about the vagina and its health.


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