The vagina is an elastic tube that connects the cervix and the uterus. It is the passageway through which blood leaves the body during menstruation and a penis enters during sexual intercourse or a baby passes through during birth.

Its surface is covered in a mucus membrane similar to the tissue that lines your mouth, nose, and digestive tract. It also contains folds called rugae that allow it to expand during sex or childbirth.

The vaginal opening

The area of your vulva that extends from your vaginal opening to the anus is called your vulva. It includes your labia majora and minora (outer lips) and the clitoris. The urethral opening is at the back of your anus, and the hole you use to pee is near the front of your anus. The vulva is surrounded by muscles that make it flexible, which allows your penis or finger to fit inside and helps you move freely during sexual activity.

The walls of your vulva are made of mucosal tissue, like the tissue that lines your mouth and digestive tract. It has a layer of muscle tissue and collagen, which give the vulva structure and allow it to stretch. There are also layers of nonkeratinized stratified squamous epithelium. The lining of your vulva contains glands that release fluid to help keep the area moist and lubricated. These glands are called the Bartholin’s glands (2).

The cervix separates your vagina from your uterus, and it has a small hole that lets menstrual blood out and sperm in. During sexual arousal, the cervix tilts upward, lengthening your vaginal canal in a process called tenting. Your hymen is the thin membrane that covers your cervix and can tear or stretch open during sexual activity or childbirth. This can lead to bacterial vaginosis (BV), which isn’t a sexually transmitted infection but can make you feel uncomfortable.

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The anal opening

While discussing the vagina is no longer taboo, many women don’t know a lot about their vulva. It’s important to understand how your body works to help manage symptoms and keep it healthy.

The anal opening (AKA butthole) is below your vaginal opening. It has lots of sensitive nerve endings, which is why some people get sexual pleasure from anal stimulation. It’s also where babies and menstrual blood leave your body and where you insert a tampon.

Your anus is made up of keratinized skin and several folds that contract when you’re not aroused. It’s surrounded by glands that give off perspiration. When a woman is sexually stimulated, the muscles that control the anus contract and expand. This creates a “valley” of lubrication called the anal canal.

Anal sex may feel satisfying but can be risky because the anus has lots of bacteria that can lead to infections like bacterial vaginosis. Practicing good hygiene, such as washing your anus with antibacterial soap, can help prevent these infections.

Everybody’s vagina is different, and the shape and size of the vulva changes throughout life, particularly after menarche and before menopause. Your vulva’s shape is also affected by hormones, including increased estrogen levels that occur during puberty. This can change the thickness and texture of the lining. It’s also possible to have a septate hymen, which means an extra band of tissue creates two openings.

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The urethral opening

A tube that carries urine from your bladder (the urethra) empties out of this hole located beneath the clitoris. It’s also where your baby exits your body during childbirth. You can put fingers, penises, sex toys, and tampons in this hole for sexual pleasure. It’s surrounded by nerve endings that make your clitoral hood expand and become lubricated when you’re aroused to help prevent friction from feeling painful instead of pleasurable.

The clitoral hood is made of spongy tissue that’s covered by pubic hair after puberty and has thousands of nerve endings. These nerves send signals to your brain that make you feel sexually excited and happy. They’re also what causes your anus to expand and open when you urinate or during intercourse.

Your vagina is a canal-like organ that leads from your uterus inside your body to a hole outside, called the anal opening or vaginal opening. It’s between your bladder, which holds pee, and the rectum, which contains your feces. This area is often referred to as the vulva, but it’s more than just your vagina, anal, and clitoral opening. The vulva is made of your labia, clitoral opening, anus, and urethral opening. It’s the part of your anatomy that people see when they look at you. Everyone’s vulva looks a little different because they all have their own unique anatomies, but they’re all made of the same basic parts.

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The vulva

The vulva, or female external genitalia, is the part of your body that contains the clitoris, labia majora and minora, the anus, urethra, and vulva vestibule. It is a distensible fibromuscular tube that extends from the cervix at its base to the anus at its tip. It is partially covered by the hymen, which forms to the back and slightly to the side of the vaginal opening.

Its outer and inner lips, the labia majora and minora, are the parts of your vulva that can be seen from outside the body, but only when you spread your legs wide apart. The clitoris is the part of your cliva that protrudes out during sexual activity. Its front portions form a clitoral hood and frenulum. The rear portions of the clitoris link together to form the vulva vestibule, Bartholin’s glands, and Skene’s glands.

The urethra is an extension of the bladder that allows urine to leave the body through its external opening. The urethral opening is below the vulva vestibule and above the anus. It is a gap that consists of an internal layer of squamous cells, an internal muscularis, and an external mucous membrane. It can vary in size from person to person, and may be wet or dry. It is drier during puberty, breastfeeding, and after menopause. It’s wetter during the time around ovulation, during pregnancy, and during sexual arousal.