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The vulva is the area of skin between a woman’s legs and is made up of all the visible sex organs.
It consists of two outer lips (the labia majora), which are covered in pubic hair and surround two inner lips (the labia minora).
A diagram of the vulva
View a large version of the illustration of the vulva|
At the front of the vulva is a small structure (the clitoris) that helps women reach a sexual climax (orgasm). Just behind the clitoris is the outlet for urine (the urethra), and just behind this is the vaginal opening (birth canal). Further back still is the opening to the back passage (anus). This is close to the vulva, but not part of it. The area of skin between the vulva and the anus is called the perineum. All of these structures are visible from outside the body.
In the groin, where the skin creases at the top of each leg, there are lymph nodes. These are part of the lymphatic system. This system is an important part of the body’s natural defence against disease. The lymph nodes can become swollen if they are affected by an infection or cancer.
Content last reviewed: 1 December 2011
Next planned review: 2013
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