The external genitalia (consequently the visible part of the sexual organs) bear the name vulva.
The pubis (or Mons pubis) represents the frontal outline of the vulva, and it forms a small, curved, triangle-shaped cushion. It is usually made up of fatty tissue and covered by hair.
At its other side, the vulva is delineated by the perinea muscles, which separate it from the anus, and sustain the organs in the lower part of the abdomen.
The vulva is made up of the large lips (or labia majora) which cover and protect its other more fragile components.
The small lips (or labia minora) placed below labia majora, unite towards the front in order to form a sort of cap meant to protect the clitoris.
The inner part of the labia, both majora and minora is the vestibule, is the interior of the vulva. The vagina and the urinary orifice (also named the urinary meatus) open up towards the back of this central concavity.
The urinary orifice is placed between the clitoris and vagina and therefore, it is sometimes difficult to notice.
In virgins the vaginal orifice is covered by a membranous fold of skin known as the hymen; after sexual intercourse only fragments of the hymen remain along the margins of the opening.
LABIA MAJORA – THE LARGE LIPS
The labia majora are two thick folds of skin running from the mons pubis to the anus. The outer sides of the labia are covered with pigmented skin, sebaceous (oil-secreting) glands, and after puberty, coarse hair.
The inner sides are smooth and hairless, with some sweat glands. Beneath the skin layer, there is mostly fatty tissue with some ligaments, smooth muscle fibres, nerves, and blood and lymphatic vessels. The labia majora correspond to the scrotum in the male.
The sudoriferous glands give off a smell that stimulates sexual appetite. Inside the large lips there are two glands named Bartholin’s glands; the substances produced here lubricate the entrance of the vagina during intercourse.
The labia majora have the following functions: to protect the vulva from external aggression and maintain the necessary humidity.
LABIA MINORA – THE SMALL LIPS
They are placed underneath labia majora and are two thin folds of smooth, hairless skin. Their aspect is different from one woman to another, in terms of texture and color (this may vary from light pink to brown), they may be smooth or indented, covered or not by the major labia.
Inside the small lips, on each side of the vestibule, there are the vestibular bulbs, two cavernous bodies that become swollen with blood during arousal.
This process generates another – the swelling of the small lips, which may double or even triple their thickness.
Generally, the women who have their labia minora developed are extremely sensuous.
The minor labia have the following functions: to ensure a further protection of the inner genitalia, to increase the sensitivity to touch in cases of sexual excitement (due to the sanguine vessels and sensitive nervous endings).
Sometimes it is difficult to discover the clitoris, as it is almost entirely covered by the fold of the labia minora, which leave out only its tip, or the gland, resembling to a small button.
The clitoris is capable of some enlargement caused by increased blood pressure during sexual excitement and is considered homologous (comparable in structure) to the male penis, only on a much smaller scale.
Unlike the penis, the clitoris does not contain the urethra for excretion of urine; it does have a rounded elevation of tissue at the tip known as the glans clitoridis.
The labia minora. are known as the prepuce (or foreskin) of the clitoris. Like the glans penis, the glans clitoridis contains nerve endings and is highly sensitive to tactile stimulation. It functions as an important “organ of the woman’s pleasure”.