Illustration by Kaos Designstudio

Everyone’s body changes during puberty. During this time the internal and external sexual characteristics necessary for sexual activity and reproduction develop. Often we are only roughly familiar with our different body parts. Terms such as vagina and vulva are frequently misused in everyday language. However, it is important to know your sexual organs and to use the terms correctly. So let’s take a little journey together through the body of menstruating people

Vulva vs. vagina

The entirety of the external primary sexual organs of a menstruating person is called the vulva. The vulva consists of the mons pubis, the labia, the urethra opening, the vaginal vestibule and the clitoris. A large part of the vulva is covered by hair starting with the beginning of puberty. In everyday language, the vulva is often mistakenly called the vagina. However, the vagina is a primary sexual organ that is tubular in shape and connects the outer cervix to the vaginal vestibule. The vagina  opens into the vaginal vestibule of the vulva and is between eight and twelve centimetres long. Only the entrance to the vagina is visible from the outside. This is because it protects the sexual organs that lie deeper in the body. As part of the birth canal, it is flexible.

Have you heard of our Menstrual ABC?

In our Menstrual ABC there are many more explanations of terms related to the anatomy of the genitals, menstruation and hormone-free contraception. There you will find detailed menstrual knowledge from A for adenomyosis to Z for zero waste menstruation.

Can you see me in the mirror?

The slight hilly elevation just above the labia, caused by an accumulation of fatty tissue, is called the mound of venus. From puberty onwards, hair grows on the mons pubis. The vaginal vestibule is part of the vulva and lies between the labias. Around the vaginal vestibule are glands that are responsible for moistening the vagina. The clitoris is a sexual organ, the small part of which is visible on the outside of the upper end of the labia. It consists of two thighs that connect to the front of the body and lie inside the body. The clitoris, also called clit, straightens up during sexual arousal due to the erectile tissue. 

Insights into the inner life: uterus, cervix and uterine orifice

The uterus is part of the sexual organs and extends from the outer cervix to the opening of the fallopian tubes. It resembles a pear standing on its head and is a hollow organ in which the egg cell can settle and develop after fertilisation. The cervix is the connection between the uterus and the vagina. This narrow section makes up the lower third of the uterus and extends as the cervix into the upper part of the vagina. The narrow opening of the cervix, which is surrounded by mucous membrane, protects the uterus from germs. 

Where the preparation for a baby is done

The fallopian tubes are a paired part of the sexual organs that start from the uterus on both sides and end near the respective ovary. They are lined with mucous membrane. Ovaries are part of the primary sexual characteristics, where eggs and sex hormones are produced. The eggs are sex cells that contain all the genetic make-up of a menstruating person and are passed on to the children. With the beginning of puberty, one egg matures in the ovaries during each menstrual cycle. Eggs can be fertilised for a maximum of 24 hours. 

Petition for a language without shame: Vulva lips

In German the word for labia has the word shame in it. In the German dictionary the term ‘shame lips’ is used. However, the word creates a false idea of this part of the body, because there is nothing to be ashamed of. Quite the opposite! With the help of the petition ‘Away with the shame: “Vulva lips” in the dictionary!’ the establishment of the term vulva lips and its inclusion in the German dictionary is fought for. Also the term venus lips would also be an option. The vulva lips are part of the external sexual organs. The term includes both the outer and inner vulva lips. What is your opinion about the terms? Do you perhaps have another good idea what we could call our labia? Then please write us a message with your suggestions!