78 chapter 4: Understanding your body
Sometimes talking about the sexual parts of our bodies
can be difficult, especially if you are shy or do not
know what different parts of the body are called. In
many places, the reproductive parts of the body are
Sexual parts on the outside
The sexual parts outside the body and between a woman’s
legs are together called the vulva. The drawing shows what
the vulva looks like and what each part is called. But every
woman’s body is different. There are differences in the size,
shape, and color of the parts, especially of the outer and inner
folds of skin.
Understanding how your
sexual and reproductive
parts work will help you
know how to get pregnant
and also how to prevent
Sometimes people may use the word vagina for the whole area. But the vagina is
the part that begins as an opening in the vulva and leads inside to the womb. The
vagina is sometimes called the ‘birth canal.’
The outer and inner folds of skin protect the vagina. These folds are sometimes
called ‘lips.’ The inner folds of skin are soft, without hair, and are sensitive to touch.
During sex, the inner folds swell and turn darker.
The hymen is a thin piece of skin just inside the opening to the vagina. A
hymen may stretch or tear and bleed a little because of hard work, sports, or other
activities. This can also happen when a woman has sex for the first time. All hymens
are different. Some women do not have
a hymen at all, and not all women bleed
The sexual parts on the outside
during their first sexual intercourse.
The clitoris is small and shaped like
a flower bud. It is the part of the vulva
that is most sensitive to touch. Rubbing
it, and the area around it, can make a
woman sexually excited and cause climax
The urinary opening is a small hole
between the vaginal opening and the
clitoris. It leads into the urethra, which
is a short tube that carries urine from the
bladder to the outside of the body.
The anus is the opening of the intestine,
where waste (stool) leaves the body.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007