vulva {vulvə}
  1. the female external genitals.


The soft mound at the front of the vulva (fatty tissue covering the pubic bone) is the mons pubis, or specifically for human females, the mons veneris or "mound of Venus". After puberty it is covered with pubic hair, the amount being determined primarily by heredity. The labia majora or large lips extend on either side of the vulva, and are also covered with pubic hair. The labia majora entirely or partially hide the other parts of the vulva. The colour of the outside skin of the labia majora is usually close to the overall skin colour of the individual, although there is considerable variation. The inside skin and mucus membrane are often pink or brownish.

The labia minora are two soft folds of skin within the labia majora and to either side of the opening of the vagina. Between them is the vulval vestibule. The clitoris is at the front of the vulva where the labia minora meet. The visible tip of the clitoris, the clitoral glans is entirely or partially covered by a 'hood' of tissue (the clitoral hood).

Below the clitoris and just in front of the vagina is the urethral opening. This is where urine passes from the bladder to the outside of the body.

The opening of the vagina is near the back (or bottom) end of the vulva. In females who have not engaged in penetrative sex, the opening of the vagina is sometimes partly covered by a membrane called the hymen. The hymen may rupture spontaneously during exercise, or be so minor as to not be noticeable.

Slightly below and to the left and right of the vaginal opening are two Bartholin glands; when the female is sexually aroused, she produces vaginal lubrication which can allow for sexual stimulation and/or penetration.

The area between the vulva and the anus is the perineum. The perineum may tear during childbirth. To prevent this, a doctor may perform an episiotomy, surgically cutting the perineum, which some believe to be more sterile. However, some women report that a natural tear has a lower instance of infection and a quicker healing time.

The appearance of the vulva and the size of the various parts varies a great deal from one female to another, and it is common for the left and right sides to differ in appearance in an individual female.


vulvar self-examinations (VSE)

It is suggested in various medical reports that women should perform vulvar self-examinations on a monthly basis, just as they would a breast self-examination. Some doctors suggest that women begin performing vulvar self-examinations when they become sexually active or beginning at the age of 18. It is important for women to learn early on what a "normal" vulva for them personally looks like, as vulvas can look very different from one woman to the next. If young women begin performing self-examinations early, they will be more aware if changes should occur.

Generally speaking, women should perform vulvar-self examinations in between menstrual periods. If a woman is no longer menstruating, she should choose a date each month that will help her remember when to perform her vulvar self-examination. Women should check for changes in appearance (such as the skin becoming white or reddened in areas; new freckles or moles), any lesions such as tiny cuts or sores, and any changes in feel (such as lumps, moles or cysts). Women should examine all of the parts of the vulva as outlined above (including the mons pubis, labia majora, labia minora, clitoris and perineum). IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT MOST CHANGES WILL NOT BE CANCEROUS. However, you should discuss all changes with your doctor at the earliest opportunity.

(vulvar health)

causes of vulva itch

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Vulva itch. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

(wrong diagnosis)