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HealthInfo Canterbury

About women's bodies

Women reproductive

This image shows a woman's internal reproductive organs (left), and where they are in her body (right). Each of her reproductive organs has a different role.

A woman's ovaries contain her eggs, and make the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Her ovaries are controlled by hormones made in her pituitary gland, which is in her brain. These hormones stimulate her ovaries to release an egg (or eggs) each month, which then makes its way down the fallopian tube, into her uterus.

If the egg is fertilised by sperm it forms an embryo. This attaches in the woman's uterus to become a foetus and, eventually, a baby.

Her uterus produces a thick inner lining each month, ready to receive a fertilised egg. If the egg isn't fertilised, then the woman sheds the lining out of her vagina. This is her period.

The only part of a woman's vagina you can see is the entrance. The rest is a flexible tube that leads into the pelvis to her cervix, the neck of her womb.

Outer organs – the vulva

VulvaA woman's outer reproductive organs, or genitals, are together called her vulva.

Next to her vagina are her labia minora, or inner labia or lips. They are there to protect her vagina and to provide lubrication during sex. Her labia majora, or outer labia, sit outside these, and protect her clitoris and other external genitals.

A woman's clitoris is above her vagina. This is the most sensitive part of a woman's vulva, and it helps to provide sexual arousal.

Between a woman's clitoris and her vagina is her urethra, a thin tube from her bladder, which she urinates (pees) from.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical director Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Canterbury DHB. Page created November 2016.


Page reference: 277828

Review key: HIAWB-277828