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Chapter: Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology: The Reproductive Systems

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External Genitals - Anatomy and Physiology

External Genitals - Anatomy and Physiology
The female external genital structures may also be called the vulva (Fig. 20–7), and include the clitoris, labia majora and minora, and the Bartholin’s glands.

EXTERNAL GENITALS

 

The female external genital structures may also be called the vulva (Fig. 20–7), and include the clitoris, labia majora and minora, and the Bartholin’s glands (see Fig. 20–5).

 

Figure 20–7. Female external genitals (vulva) shown in inferior view of the perineum. QUESTION: What is the function of the labia majora and minora?

The clitoris is a small mass of erectile tissue ante-rior to the urethral orifice. The only function of the clitoris is sensory; it responds to sexual stimulation, and its vascular sinuses become filled with blood.

 

The mons pubis is a pad of fat over the pubic sym-physis, covered with skin and pubic hair. Extending posteriorly from the mons are the labia majora (lat-eral) and labia minora (medial), which are paired folds of skin. The area between the labia minora is called the vestibule and contains the openings of the urethra and vagina. The labia cover these openings and prevent drying of their mucous membranes.

 

Bartholin’s glands, also called vestibular glands (see Figs. 20–5 and 20–6), are within the floor of the vestibule; their ducts open onto the mucosa at the vaginal orifice. The secretion of these glands keeps the mucosa moist and lubricates the vagina during sexual intercourse.




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