Vulva Definition

The vulva of a female includes structures of the female external genitalia that has a role in urination and reproduction. Various components of the vulva are

  • 1. Labia majora
  • 2. Labia minora
  • 3. Mons pubis
  • 4. Clitoris
  • 5. Vestibular bulbs
  • 6. Vulva vestibule
  • 7. Bartholin’s glands
  • 8. Skene’s glands
  • 9. Urethra
  •  10. Vaginal opening

What is Vulva Meaning?

Vulva means a covering or wrapping that is present on the vaginal opening. The vulva is the external genitalia or sex organ in females that surrounds the vaginal opening. 

Vulva Anatomy

The vulva has different components vaginal opening, mons pubis, clitoris, labia majora, labia minora, etc.

Mons pubis is made of fatty tissue covered with pubic hair in females. It acts as a cushion while sex secretes pheromones for enhanced sexual experience. 

Labia majora is a large lip or the skin fold forming longitudinal borders of clefts in the vulva. It covers the vaginal opening, clitoris, and glands. It is engorged with blood and has a role in sexual arousal.

Labia minora is the smaller skin fold or the lip beginning from the clitoris and extending downward. It encircle vulva vestibule and terminate between vulva vestibule and labia majora. Labia minora become edematous and filled with blood on sexual arousal. 

The clitoris (like a glans penis of males) is a sensory organ in females. The clitoris has two distinct parts 

  • 1. Glans clitoris 
  • 2. Body of clitoris

The clitoral tissue is made of corpus cavernous, erectile tissue protruding outside the vulva in the form of a glans clitoris. 

The urethra extends from the urinary bladder to excrete urine outside the body. In females, the urethra opens above the vaginal opening and below the clitoris.

The vagina is an important female sex organ during childbirth or sexual intercourse. The female vagina is the muscular and elastic tube connecting the cervix and extending to the vulva vestibule. The vaginal opening has a membranous covering called the hymen. The vagina collects semen, and it is the organs from where the sperms ascend to the cervix. It is also a tract for blood flow during menses.

Itchy Vulva

Itching in the vulva is mainly caused by vaginal dryness, irritants, and infections due to microbial agents like 

  • 1. Chlamydia
  • 2. Genital herpes
  • 3. Genital warts
  • 4. Trichomoniasis
  • 5. Gonorrhoea
  • 6. Yeast infections 

Swollen Vulva

Inflammation in the vulva due to vaginitis causes swelling and other inflammatory responses. 

Vulva Function

The vulva is an important female reproductive organ:

  • 1. It has a role in receiving the penis during sexual intercourse
  • 2. It holds the sperms in the semen and gives them the right direction toward the uterus and fallopian tubes
  • 3. It serves as the flow channel for the menstrual blood
  • 4. It has glands and produces hormones for enhanced sexual functioning
  • 5. It has the urethra as one of its portions to deliver urine out of the body.
  • 6. It gets a lot of blood during sexual arousal and gets lubricated 
  • 7. Prevent foreign microbes or substances from entering the female urogenital tract

Vulva Diseases

There are numerous diseases affecting the vulva :

  • 1. Folliculitis
  • 2. Contact dermatitis
  • 3. Bartholin gland cysts
  • 4. Lichen sclerosus
  • 5. Lichen planus
  • 6. Vulva cancer

Vulva Cancer

Vulva cancer is the malignancy of squamous cells of the vulva. Majorly the tumour develops in the vagina and vulva, labia, clitoris, and urethral opening. Cancer leads to the formation of lumps, causing itching. 

 Types of Vulva Cancer 

  • 1. Squamous cell carcinoma: Largely squamous cells of the vulva become malignant, leading to skin cancer. Most of the tumours are found in the labia.
  • 2. Verrucous carcinoma appears like a wart that slowly grows like squamous cell cancer of the vulva.
  • 3. Adenocarcinoma– carcinoma of sweat glands of the vulva that are mainly found around the vaginal opening.
  • 4. Melanoma– vulvar skin cancer occurring due to sun exposure. It mainly affects the clitoris and labia. 

Signs indicating Vulva Cancer 

  • 1. Itching in the vulva region that persists for a long time
  • 2. Pain and inflammation in and around the vulva
  • 3. Change in colour of the vulva skin
  • 4. Ulcers or lumps on the vulva 

When To see a Doctor

A gynaecologist or a primary doctor must be consulted if the signs of vulva cancer appear and persist for a long time. 

Vulva cancer Treatment

Treatment for vulva cancer is mainly surgery to remove the tumour of the vulva and some surrounding tissues to eliminate the malignant tissues.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s a vulva on a female?

Vulva in females is the outermost genitalia that includes

  • 1. Labia majora
  • 2. Labia minora
  • 3. Clitoris
  • 4. Mons pubis
  • 5. Vaginal opening or vestibule
  • 6. Urethra 

Where is the vulva located in females?

The vulva is located as the outer portion of the genitals in females. It can be sensed as a smooth female organ starting from the end of the clitoris and ending posteriorly to the labia minora. 

What colour is a woman’s vulva?

The colour of the female vulva is mainly pink to brown. The colour may vary from female to female depending on the woman’s age.

Is vulva cancer Harmful?

Vulva cancer affects the labia commonly. It is harmful as it has a worse impact on the sexual life of women. Pain and difficulty in daily activities are serious harmful outcomes of vulva cancer. 

How To Care Vulva?

 It is highly important to take care of vulva:

  • 1. Use warm bathing water for washing the vulva
  • 2. Wear clean cotton underwear
  • 3. Do not wear tight thongs.
  • 4. Undergarments should be carefully washed and rinsed
  • 5. Fresh undergarments should be worn daily
  • 6. Get proper medication if there is temporary itching.

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