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Sex Education: Anatomy

The Vulva— used to describe all of the structures that make up the external genitalia. The components of the vulva are the mons pubis, labia majora, labia minora, clitoris, vestibular bulbs, vulva vestibule, Bartholin's glands, Skene's glands, urethra, & vaginal opening.


Mons Pubis— a tissue mound made up of fat located directly anterior to the pubic bones. This mound of tissue is prominent and is usually covered in pubic hair.


Labia Majora— a prominent pair of cutaneous skin folds that will form the lateral longitudinal borders of the vulva.


Labia Minora— a pair of small cutaneous folds that begins at the clitoris and extends downward. The anterior folds of the labia minora encircle the clitoris forming the clitoral hood and the frenulum of the clitoris. Then the labia descends obliquely and downward forming the borders of the vulva vestibule.


Clitoris— functions as a sensory organ (homologous to the glans penis). The clitoris can be divided into the glans clitoris and the body of the clitoris. The underlying tissue that makes the clitoris is the corpus cavernous. The corpus cavernous is a type of erectile tissue that merges together and protrudes to the exterior of the vulva as the glans clitoris. While proximally, the two separate ends of the tissue will form the legs of the clitoris & the body of the clitoris. The glans clitoris is the only visible part of the clitoris.


Vulva Vestibule— The area between the labia minora is the vulva vestibule. This is a smooth surface that begins just below the clitoris and ends inferiorly at the posterior commissure of the labia minora. The vulva vestibule contains the opening to the urethra and the vaginal opening.


Urethra— an extension of a tube from the bladder to the outside of the body. The purpose of the urethra is urination. The urethra opens within the vulva vestibule below the clitoris, but above the vaginal opening.


Vagina— elastic & muscular; connected to the cervix proximally and extends to the external surface through the vulva vestibule. The vaginal opening is located below the urethra opening.


Source: National Library of Medicine

The human penis is anatomically divided into two continuous areas—the body (or external portion, and the root. The root of the penis begins directly below the bulbourethral glands with a long cylindrical body of tissue known as the corpus spongiosum. This tissue extends through the body of the penis to the tip, called the glans penis.


Running through the centre of the corpus spongiosum is the urethra. Beginning alongside of the bulbourethral glands are a pair of long cylindrical bodies called the corpora cavernosa penis. These continue through the body of the penis, occupying the sides and upper portion directly above the corpus spongiosum; they terminate immediately before the glans penis.


The corpora cavernosa consist of empty spaces divided by partitions of tissue. The tissue consists of muscle, collagen (a fibrous protein), and elastic fibre. The corpora cavernosa are termed erectile tissue, because during sexual excitation, their fibrous tissue is expanded by blood that flows into and fills their empty spaces. The blood is temporarily trapped in the penis by the constriction of blood vessels that would normally allow it to flow out.


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