Reproductive Anatomy 101: The Vulva

The vulva and vagina are terms that are often used interchangeably. They are, in fact, different from one another.
The vagina is a muscular tube found on the inside of the body. It opens into the external genitalia at the vaginal opening.
The vulva refers to the parts that touch your underwear — the external genitalia structures show in the diagram below.

Bottom view of the external genitalia. From top to bottom in this illustration is the mons pubis, visible part of the clitoris, urethral opening, the vestibule and vaginal opening, the perineum, and the anus. The labia minora and majora are also visible on each side of the central structures.

Just like how our faces and features are different from one another, the vulva can look different from person to person as well — different lengths, folds, hair quantity and distribution, colouration, widths, etc.

The vulva includes:

  • mons pubis (fatty cushioning that sits atop the pubic bone)
  • clitoris (organ of pleasure with only a small part visible and most of it hidden from view)
  • urethral opening (exit route for urine)
  • vaginal opening (the entrance/exit route to the vaginal tract)
  • vestibule (the area around the vaginal opening)
  • labia majora and labia minora (the outer and inner lips/folds)
  • perineum (tissue between the vulva and anus)

The perineum marks the end of the vulva and then there’s the anus, which is the exit route for fecal matter.