I know that this post may ruffle some feathers from my more conservative readers, so I am giving you a head's up now: both videos contain non-birth related nudity.
How many women are familiar with their body's sexual organs? How many of you have seen your cervix or can name your anatomy correctly?
I wish that we, as a society, were more understanding of our bodies. I wish that American women had shows like the one below, which would give us confidence in our body, the originality of our own body and it's beauty...
And, here is a video to give you a look at what your midwife or doctor is seeing when you have a vaginal exam/pap smear.
We have amazing bodies and it is about time that we know them better!
If you are comfortable doing so, grab a mirror and have some 'personal time' getting to know your own body. Even consider asking your doc or midwife to help you see your own cervix at your next visit. It sounds loony, but it is very empowering to know your own body better.
The proper name for the outer female genitals is the vulva.
Looking downward, where your pubic hair is (or normally grows if you are a trimmer/shaver), below your belly button, there is a fatty area called the The mons veneris, Latin for "hill of Venus" (Roman Goddess of love). I have heard it called 'mounds' before, because that is very much what it looks like, your mound. :)
Further down, between your legs, you will find, first, the fatty outer folds of skin protecting the inner folds of more sensitive tissue. This outer fold of skin is called the labia majora (lay-bee-ah) or "lips." These are normally covered with hair as well.
If you were to pull your outer labia open, you would find your labia minora, (aka lips), which are not covered with hair. These inner lips have been likened to the petals of a flower, small tongues, wings of a butterfly... and other such romantic imagery. These labia minora vary in size, length, color, and texture from woman to woman. Some women have very small, barely visible labia, while other women have very long labia. They can be thick or thin, purple, pink, brown, red, smooth edged, ruffle edged, bulbous, uneven, or even. Each and every one of these variations are normal and beautiful - your own personalized body that is as original as you are. The purpose of your labia minora are two-fold: they are very sensitive and play a part in sexual arousal, as well as they protect your more inner sexual anatomy (vestibule) from bacteria/infection/desensitization.
"The clitoris and vagina embracing the penis during intercourse as seen facing toward the woman. The outer layers of skin, fat, and muscle have been dissected away, and the penis is shown in simplified cross-section for position only. Atop the pea-shaped clitoral glans, normally the only part visible outside the body, you can see the ascending portion of the clitoral shaft. Upon reaching its apex (which Dickinson calls "the clitoral knee"), the shaft bends downward and divides into the two "legs" or crura which encircle the vaginal opening." Drawing by Robert Latou Dickinson, in "Human Sex Anatomy," 1949.
Looking within the vestibule, below the clitoral hood, you will find two openings. The first opening is the urethral opening. This opening is where you urinate from. The second opening is the opening to your vagina. The opening to the vagina differs from woman to woman as well. It is normally circular in a woman who has not given birth, whereas tends to be more irregular after birth (see below).
The vagina is, on average, 3 inches deep. During arousal, it elongates and expands open, like a barrel. This is the area which, during labor and birth, is referred to as the birth canal. This vaginal barrel is made of extremely elastic tissue that have varying folds and textures.
If you were to place your finger into the vaginal opening and then do, what my kids call, the 'pee squeeze' (what you engage when you are trying to stop the flow of urine or are attempting not to urinate), you would feel the pubococcygeus (PC) muscles flex. This muscular hammock holds up the internal organs, and has an opening for the urethral, vaginal, and anal cavities - allowing you control over any matter passing in or out of those orifices. Flexing the PC muscle stimulates many nerve endings in all three openings and can cause intense pleasure and pressure if strong enough of a flex. The PC muscle helps to enable a woman to pass feces and urine, clench a penis, hold in a tampon, and relax to bring down a baby.
Beyond the cervix is the uterus. Uteri are large bags of muscles that run both horizontally and vertically. This is the place where you will/did carry your baby and where your body stores blood before the onset of every menstruation (period).
Trailing off on both the right and left of the uterus are fallopian tubes. These tubes connect your uterus to the ovaries, where you have stored all of the eggs you will ever have in a lifetime.
Outside again, below the vaginal opening, toward the anus, is a stretch of skin called the perineum. The perineum is another stretch of tissue that is very sensitive in many women. This tissue is very elastic and, during labor and birth, stretches to accommodate baby's entrance to the world.
So, there you have it. The beautiful anatomy of a woman's sexual (and childbearing) anatomy. Knowing the miraculous nature of your body, the intricate and intimate parts that are so often never known, is empowering.