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Bodies

It’s hard to learn how to pleasure your body without knowing your body in the first place! Let’s demystify your reproductive anatomy, so you can get to exploring in a positive, healthy, and informed way.

It is important to note that not everyone is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that fits the typical classification of male or female, as described below. Intersex is an umbrella term used to describe people who fall into this category, and have a variation of internal and/or external sexual anatomy. For more information, check out interACT Youth!

Female Reproductive System

Vulva

The vulva (often mistakenly referred to as the vagina) includes all of the following woman’s external sex organs.

Mons pubis (mons, pubic mound)

Fatty area of tissue beneath your belly button where pubic hair grows. While pubic pair predominantly grows on the mons, it also often grows in smaller amounts on the outside of the labia majora

Outer lips (labia majora)

Also called the labia majora, or outer labia, the outer lips are fleshy, covered by pubic hair, and connect to the thighs

Inner lips (labia minora)

Also called the labia minora, or inner labia, the inner lips are only visible when the outer labia are pulled apart. Inner lips come in all shapes, sizes, and textures, and can change color as women mature. They cover the urethra and vaginal opening and swell during sexual arousal

Urethra

The urethra is the duct that conveys urine out of the body via the bladder. Its opening is located below the clitoris.

Anus

The anus is the opening from the rectum to the outside of the body. Anal stimulation can be pleasurable, and generally involves the insertion of an erect penis into the anus. Other stimuli such as fingers, sex toys (butt plugs, dildos, anal beads, etc.), and tongues can also be involved in anal play. It is important to use protection when engaging in anal sex, and STIs can still be transmitted. The lining of the rectum is thin and can tear easily, thus increasing the risk of contracting an STI. Lubrication is also very important as the anus doesn’t lubricate on its own, and is more prone to tearing than the vagina!

Clitoris

Spongy and sensitive to touch, the clitoris is the pea-sized principal organ of female pleasure that becomes engorged with blood during sexual excitement. It’s located at the top of the vulva, where the inner lips meet, and includes a shaft and two crura of erectile tissue that extend five inches into the body.  Fun fact: The clitoris has 8,000 nerve endings – double the nerve endings in the glans of a penis, and is the only organ in the human body whose sole purpose is sexual pleasure. Nice!

Clitoral hood

The clitoral hood is the skin that covers the external tip of the clitoris.

Bartholin’s glands

Located to the left and right of the vaginal opening, the Bartholin’s glands are two pea-sized glands that release mucus to lubricate the vagina during sexual arousal.

Hymen

The hymen is the thin fleshy membrane that stretches across part of the external vaginal opening. In many cultures, an “intact” hymen represents “virginity.” The phrase “popping your cherry” actually refers to the tearing of the hymen during one’s first experience of sexual intercourse, resulting in a bit of bleeding. However, the tissue can be stretched or torn during other activities that involve pressure on the vaginal area, such as biking, horseback riding, doing gymnastics, masturbating, or inserting a tampon. Some females are born very little tissue, or without hymenal tissue entirely. So don’t worry about the myths!

G-spot

The G-spot, or Gräfenberg spot (for German gynecologist Ernst Gräfenberg), is located 1-2 inches inside the vagina on the wall that’s closest to the stomach. Similar to the clitoris, the G-spot is very sensitive and swells during sexual excitement.

Skene’s glands

Also called paraurethral glands or female prostate glands, the Skene’s Glands are located on the anterior wall of the vagina, around the lower end of the urethra, and can be indirectly felt through the upper vaginal wall, 2 – 3 inches from the entrance of the vagina. They release fluid during female ejaculation.

Vagina

Located below the urethral opening, the vagina is the tubular part of the female genital tract that connects the external sex organs with the cervix and uterus. The walls open just enough to allow menstrual flow to leave the body, sexual penetration to occur, and fetuses to pass through during vaginal delivery. Notably, the vagina is 2–4 inches long when its owner isn’t sexually aroused and 4–8 inches long when they are.

Vaginal discharge

Ever notice white/clear fluid in your underwear at the end of the day and wonder what it was? Well, it’s your body’s natural way of keeping your vagina healthy and clean! Vaginal discharge is entirely normal and a regular occurrence. It is also normal for discharge to increase with exercise, sexual arousal, ovulation, birth control pill use, and emotional stress, so don’t be alarmed. However, if you experience unusual discharge (discharge that is yellow/green, of a thick consistency, or that has a foul odor), especially if it is accompanied by any vaginal itching or burning, you might have a yeast or bacterial infection, and should see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Cervix

The cervix is a cylinder-shaped neck of tissue that attaches the vagina to the uterus. During the menstrual cycle, the cervix produces mucus that changes in consistency to prevent or promote pregnancy. During menstruation, the cervix widens to allow the passage of menstrual flow. During vaginal childbirth, the cervix flattens then dilates to make way for the fetus to move along the birth canal.

Uterus

Located between the bladder and the rectum, in the pelvic area, the uterus (womb) is a hollow muscular organ that’s responsible for the development of the embryo and fetus during pregnancy. In a non-pregnant person, the uterus is normally the size of her fist. During pregnancy, the uterus stretches to become large enough to hold a full term baby.

Fallopian tubes

The fallopian tubes are two tubes that transport eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. Conception occurs when male contractions propel the sperm upward into the fallopian tubes to fertilize the egg.

Fimbriae

The fimbriae are like tons of tiny fingers at the end of each fallopian tube that sweep the egg from the ovary into the tube. Interestingly, of all fimbriae, only one fimbria is long enough to reach the ovary. It’s called fimbria ovarica.

Ovaries

The ovaries are two organs that produce hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) in the female reproductive system. They also store eggs. During puberty, the ovaries begin to release eggs each month until menopause. Usually, one ovary releases an egg each month.

If you’re feeling at all confused about your body, talk to a trusted adult or your doctor.

tabú tip:

There’s definitely a lot going on down there. One way to explore, and better understand your body is to use a mirror! As you get to know your body, remember to always respect yourself and others!

Male Reproductive System

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Penis

Consisting of three columns of spongy material (the corpus spongiosum and two corpora cavernosa), the penis is the male’s reproductive and sex organ that fills with blood during sexual excitement and becomes erect. Also enclosed in the penis is the urethra, which carries urine, pre-ejaculate, and semen out of his body.

Shaft

When soft (flaccid), the shaft of the penis is generally 1-3 inches long. When hard (erect), the shaft expands to 4-6 inches.

Glans

Located at the penis’s tip, the glans is soft and highly sensitive.

Foreskin

The foreskin is a tube of skin that covers the glans. Some men choose to have their foreskin removed by circumcision.

Frenulum

This is where the foreskin attaches to the penis, just under the glans. Typically, a portion of the frenulum remains after circumcision.

Scrotum

This sac of skin is separated between two parts, enclosing the testicles.

Testicles

Located inside the scrotum, the testicles are two ball-like glands that produce hormones and sperm.

Epididymis

The epididymis is the tube where sperm mature before ejaculation, along which sperm travel to the vas deferens.

Cremaster

The cremaster is the muscle that automatically moves the testicles closer to the body when the thigh is stimulated.

Vas deferens

Connected to the epididymis, the vas deferens are two tubes that transport sperm from the epididymis to the seminal vesicles during ejaculation.

Prostate gland

About the size of a golf ball, the prostate gland creates fluid that helps sperm travel though a male’s reproductive tract.

Cowper’s glands

Located beneath the prostate and attached to the urethra, the Cowper’s glands produce pre-ejaculate that prepares the urethra for ejaculation.

Seminal vesicles

Located below the bladder, these two small organs produce seminal fluid.

Urethra

This tube empties the bladder and carries pre-ejaculate, semen, and urine to the urethral opening, where pre-ejaculate, semen, and urine then leave the body.

Anus

The anus is the opening from the rectum to the outside of the body. Anal stimulation can be pleasurable, and generally involves the insertion of an erect penis into the anus. Other stimuli such as fingers, sex toys (butt plugs, dildos, anal beads, etc.), and tongues can also be involved in anal play. It is important to use protection when engaging in anal sex, and STIs can still be transmitted. The lining of the rectum is thin and can tear easily, thus increasing the risk of contracting an STI. Lubrication is also very important as the anus doesn’t lubricate on its own, and is more prone to tearing than the vagina!

If you’re feeling at all confused about your body, talk to a trusted adult or your doctor.

tabú tip:

As you get to know your body, remember to always respect yourself and others!