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Private parts

See facts about male and female genitals and breasts

  • The female genitalia consists of both external and internal organs. The internal genitalia includes the vagina, uterus and ovaries. The external female genitalia are collectively described as the vulva.

  • During puberty the ovaries are stimulated to produce the hormone oestrogen, which causes women to grow breasts and pubic hair, and eventually start their periods.

  • The ovaries contain hundreds of tiny sex cells, called eggs. Girls are born with all the eggs they will ever have.

  • After the onset of puberty, one egg is usually released at approximately monthly intervals. This process is called ovulation.

  • Eggs are released until the woman reaches the menopause.

  • The vulva includes the mons pubis, the clitoris, the labia majora and minora, the urethral opening and the vaginal opening.

  • The mons pubis is the fleshy mound over the pubic bone where pubic hair grows. It is one of the female erogenous zones.

  • The clitoris is the centre of female sexual excitement and reputedly contains more nerve endings than a penis.

  • Like the penis, the clitoris contains sponge-like cylinders that fill with blood during sexual arousal, causing it to swell and harden.

  • The size and shape of a woman’s labia minora, or inner lips, can vary enormously. Some are small and tucked in while others are longer and protrude from the outer lips. They are rarely symmetrical. All shapes are normal.

  • The hymen is a thin piece of skin that partially covers the vaginal opening

  • A torn hymen is not an indication of sexual activity; most are gone long before any such activity takes place. It can happen during childhood (from physical activity like climbing trees or cycling) or from inserting a tampon.

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