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For information about the anatomy of the vulva, see the sections and click through the diagrams below.


The vulva is the proper name for all the parts that make up the outer female genitalia. This includes the mons pubis, clitoris, labia, urethra and vaginal opening (all described in more detail below). You would use the word vulva when referring to all these parts together, or when talking about the outer female genitalia in general.

Just like any other part of the body, vulvas come in all different shapes, sizes and colours.

Mons pubis

The mons pubis, also known as the pubic mound, is an area of fatty tissue that sits over the pubic bone. It can be smaller, or more prominent, largely depending on your genetics. Pubic hair usually starts growing on the mons pubis from puberty (typically beginning between 8 and 13 years old). The main role of this part of the vulva is to provide protection and cushioning during sexual intercourse. 

Pubic hair

There can be a lot of variation in the colour, density, coarseness and curliness of pubic hair between individuals. Pubic hair reduces friction, provides protection to the urethra and vagina and helps maintain a balanced pH environment.


The tip of the clitoris is located where the labia minora join at the top of the vulva. The tip may be visible or ‘hooded’ by a loose fold of skin. From the tip, the rest of the clitoris extends internally along both sides of the vulva (beneath the labia) and is full of nerve endings – 15,000 of them. The tip of the clitoris is usually the most sensitive area on the vulva and is the only organ in the entire body whose sole purpose is sexual pleasure. To see a diagram of the full structure of the clitoris, check out the Cliterate website.


There are two sets of labia: the labia majora and the labia minora.

Labia majora

The labia majora are the outer labia (or outer ‘lips’) that go from the anus to the mons pubis. They protect the labia minora, clitoris, vaginal opening and urethra. Pubic hair usually starts growing on the labia majora from puberty.

Labia minora

The labia minora are the inner labia (or inner ‘lips’) that sit inside the labia majora. They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colours and textures, and do not grow hair.  The main function of the labia minora is to protect the vagina and urethra. They’re also full of nerve endings that provide sensation and lubrication during sex.


The urethra is the tiny opening through which urine passes.


The vagina is a tube that connects the vulva (external genitals) to the cervix. It is mostly located internally, with only the opening visible from the outside. The vaginal opening sits right below the urethra.  It is common for people to refer to the vulva as the vagina, but these are separate parts of the anatomy.

The vagina performs a number of important functions. It provides a passageway for sperm to reach the uterus during conception, for menstrual blood to leave the body, and for childbirth. Vaginal walls also contain nerve endings that provide you pleasure during sex.

Diagrams are illustrated by Emily Dang.

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