In the woman, the external genital organs serve to protect internal genital structures. The external genitals also are one of the major areas of erotic response, or response to sexual excitement. Pubic hair covers the area. It is short and coarse and is one of the early signs of approaching puberty. The word puberty comes from pubescent, which means hairy. In the female, the pubic hair forms a triangle with the apex pointing down.
The Female Sex Organs – external genitals
The vulva consists of the outer labia or larger lips, the vestibule, the inner labia or smaller lips and the clitoris. The outer labia are two long, tapering tissue folds or cushions covered with hair. Their major function is to protect the delicate inner parts of the vulva.
The vestibule, a funnel-like structure, is about two inches long and can be seen when the outer labia are drawn apart. It is lined by a smooth membrane kept moist by glandular discharge. During sexual excitement, the gland ducts supply extra lubrication which permits easy entry of the penis. Also, the vestibule allows access for the tampon-type of the sanitary pad or a medical contraceptive.
The inner labia are parallel to and located on the inner part of the larger labia. They begin at the upper point of the vulva and diverge on either side like an inverted V of hanging skin folds. The inner labia are lined with nerves, blood vessels and elastic tissue. Sensitive to stimuli, they become firm and tense under sexual excitement.
Located at the upper angle of the vulva, where the two inner labia meet, is the clitoris, the external centre of erotic sensation. It looks somewhat like a very tiny penis. Its tip is rounded and packed with nerve ends. The inner labia meet over the top of the clitoris to form its cover. This is called the foreskin, or prepuce, and should regularly be pulled back.
As I have said, the clitoris is extremely responsive to sexual stimuli. Because of its location and nearness to the vagina, it is sensitive to pressure and contact during sex play and in sexual relations. When the woman becomes sexually aroused, the clitoris may become erect and firm, but this may not always be obvious to the husband.
How to have successful sex relations?
Let me tell you about two married couples I know. The first couple was experiencing unsuccessful sex relations. The wife complained that she never reached a climax and the husband began to feel that he was inadequate. The husband, in explaining the problem to his doctor, said he had tried various techniques to stimulate his wife to the point of orgasm, but nothing succeeded. “Have you tried stimulating the clitoris?” the doctor inquired. “What’s that?” the husband asked. “I’ve never heard of it.”
For the first time, it came to light that the husband did not know that such an organ as the clitoris existed. And, of course, he did not know anything about its importance in sexual stimulation. The doctor took out a chart of the female anatomy and explained the construction of the female genital tract. And the difference between clitoral and vaginal orgasm.
The entire picture has changed now for the better. Not only is the husband more skilful in arousing his wife, but both husband and wife have done considerable reading about sex and have become truly literate on the subject. As a result, their sexual experience today is far more gratifying than it was in the past. In that case, one visit to the doctor resulted in one problem solved.
The second couple illustrates how knowledge can increase pleasure in sexual relations. This couple is extremely well informed. They are both mature, worldly people to whom sex is not a hidden factor in living. They think and speak of it intelligently, and look upon it as an essential part of their life together.
This couple has discovered that the wife can reach the climax twice in a relatively short period, before and during intercourse. The husband has learned to stimulate his wife manually so that she can achieve a clitoral orgasm.
Then he inserts his penis and by tender, the loving suggestion has convinced his wife that she can attain a second, or vaginal, orgasm. Much of the time, she does. Even if she does not, she already has experienced climax through stimulation of the clitoris. There is relatively little sexual tension in the relations of this couple.
Incidentally, their real discovery of each other sexually came, as often happens, only after eight or nine years of marriage.
The Female Sex Organs – internal organs
The hymen is the meeting point of the internal and external female genitals. Situated at the entrance to the vagina, it is usually shaped like a crescent. It may block the vaginal entrance completely except for a tiny opening, or it may hardly block the opening at all. Even in virgins, there is an opening in the hymen to allow the passage of menstrual discharge and other secretions. The hymen is quite elastic and in most cases, there is no reason for opening it artificially before marriage. Contrary to popular belief, sports activity will rarely break or tear it.
If the hymen is intact, marital intercourse usually stretches it or breaks it. However, in some women, the hymen may remain intact for months or even years after marriage, even with frequent intercourse.
The vagina is the canal which extends from the vulva inward. Into it is inserted the penis during intercourse, and down through it will pass the baby at birth. During sexual excitement, the vagina is lubricated by fluid that profusely beads its walls.
Fluid volume increases as excitation increases. In the virgin, the vagina measures about a half-inch in diameter. After marriage and childbirth, the diameter increases to one and a half or two inches. The vagina is about three or three and a half inches long and the cervix, or neck of the womb, projects into it at its upper end. Its walls are very elastic so that it can expand easily to receive the penis. The floor is formed by several bands of muscle covered with a smooth membrane. The contractions in these muscular bands constitute the orgasm or climax in the woman.
The uterus, or womb, is a pear-shaped organ usually two and a half to three and a half inches long and two inches or so wide. Its thick, muscular walls surround a cavity that has three openings. The lower one tightly closed except during birth leads through the cervix to the vagina, the two on top lead to the Fallopian tubes. Lined with a special membrane, the cavity undergoes dynamic changes monthly as part of menstruation. It is here that the egg, or ovum, enters through the Fallopian tubes from the ovaries.
The ovaries are the two female sex glands which are similar to the testes of the male. They are located in the lower part of the abdomen on each side of the uterus. Each resembles a large, flattened olive in shape and size. The ovaries not only develop the female germ cells but as tiny chemical factories, they also produce two sex hormones.
The “ripening” process of the eggs begins with the onset of puberty. In each menstrual cycle (28 days is the usual period for a cycle, although there is great, normal variation), only one egg usually matures. If two ova are discharged and fertilized, non-identical twins result. Identical twins come from a single fertilized ovum that splits into two. The moment of discharge of the ovum from the ovary is called ovulation, and it generally takes place about fourteen days before the onset of the next menstrual cycle. At ovulation, some women experience slight cramps similar to those of menstruation, or slight staining. These women are fortunate in being able to tell exactly when they ovulate.
The mature egg finds its way from the ovary into one of the Fallopian tubes, each of which is about five inches long, and travels down it, slowly making its way towards the uterus. It is usually in the tube that the sperm fertilizes the egg. If it remains unfertilized, it is simply expelled with the menstrual flow which begins at this time. If fertilization of the egg has taken place, the tiny being already developing into an embryo implants itself in the lining of the uterus which has become thick and velvety in preparation for it. Pregnancy is considered by some to have begun at the moment of fertilization, by others at implantation.
Ovulation ceases until the pregnancy is over, as does menstruation, although, occasionally, staining may occur at the usual time of the period. This staining may take place for only a short while during pregnancy, or occasionally for longer.