What jobs do the external sex organs do?
The external female sex organs include:
- Outer labia (labia majora)
- Inner labia (labia minora)
- Vaginal vestibule
- Bartholin’s glands
The external sex organs allow for sexual intercourse and sexual pleasure. The skin and mucous membranes on the external sex organs – especially on the head (glans) of the clitoris, the inner labia and the vaginal vestibule – have a lot of nerves and are very sensitive. As a result, touching and rubbing this area can cause sexual arousal and increased pleasure that may lead to orgasm.
The structures of the female clitoris and the male penis are similar because they develop from the same organ when the baby starts growing in the womb. The clitoris is mostly inside the body, and reaches from a joint in the middle of the pelvis (the pubic symphysis) to the front wall of the vagina. It consists of the head of the clitoris with a foreskin (clitoral hood), as well as the shaft and two “legs” with erectile structures (corpora cavernosa) that are positioned to the left and right of the urethra. Only the head of the clitoris, the hood and – during sexual arousal – part of the shaft are visible from the outside.
The corpora cavernosa of the clitoris and of the vaginal vestibule are made of a sponge-like tissue. During sexual arousal, blood builds up in the corpora cavernosa until they are full and firm. This also causes the head and shaft of the clitoris to swell and stiffen. During an orgasm, the muscles beneath contract (tense) rhythmically.
As soon as a woman is sexually aroused, the small Bartholin’s glands at the opening of the vagina release a fluid. The vagina becomes moist, making it easier for the penis to enter during sex.