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What is Vulva?

The vulva, sometimes referred to as simply the pudendum is the exterior region of a woman's circumcision physiology that shields the woman's outer genitalia, urethra, vestibule, and cervix. The labia majora, as well as minora, represent both the interior and external folds of the libido. 

As a result, this organ is vulnerable to a variety of physical illnesses, namely vulvar cancer, infectious agents, and a variety of highly contagious illnesses. It's critical to comprehend how this portion of the human system operates and how it relates to other parts of general well-being.

The Anatomy

The external area of the labia is covered with sebaceous (oil-secreting) glands and pigmented skin. After puberty, it gets covered with coarse hair. The insides of the vulva region are smooth, hairless, with sweat glands. Underneath the skin layer of the vulva, there is primarily fatty tissue with a few ligaments, nerves, smooth muscle fibres, blood, and lymphatic vessels. 

1. Labia Majora

Two thick folds of skin that go from the mons pubis to the anus are the labia majora. They are the outer set of folds and they are large and hairy. The part that is labia majora in females, corresponds to the scrotum in males. The small structure of erectile tissue under the mons pubis and between the labia majora is called the clitoris.

2. Clitoris

During sexual excitement, there is increased blood pressure which causes enlargement of the clitoris which is smaller in scale as compared to the male penis in structure. The clitoris does not have a urethra for excretion of urine like the penis. It has a rounded tissue elevation at its tip called the glans clitoridis. The glans clitoridis is located at the top of the vulva, where the labia minora meet. It is different for every female, varying in size and shape. A clitoral hood covers the tip of the clitoris. The clitoris consists of spongy tissue that gets engorged when stimulated. It has more nerve endings.

3. Labia Minora

On two sides of the glans clitoridis, there are the starting folds of the labia minora. The labia minora creates a fold or a hood where it meets at the top of the vagina. This fold is called the prepuce (foreskin) of the clitoris. The vestibule of the vagina is surrounded by labia minora, which is the two folds of skin between the labia majora. These folds do not have fat or hairs and their skin is moist, smooth, and pink with sebaceous and sweat glands. The labia minora also meets just below the vaginal opening, and that part is called the fourchette. The anus which is the rectum opening is beyond the fourchette and is the part from where the stool is excreted out of the body. The perineum is a gap between the anus and the vagina.

4. Other Parts of The Vulva

The vaginal vestibule starts below the clitoris and has openings of the vagina, the urethra, along with the ducts of the two glands of Bartholins. The opening of the urethra is like a small slit present close to the clitoris. This opening is used for urine excretion. Under this opening, there is a larger opening called the vaginal orifice that has the opening of the two Bartholin ducts on each of its sides. These glands often contract an infection and secrete mucus that acts as a lubricant for the vagina at the time of sexual activity.

The diameter of each gland is about 1 cm (0.4 inches) and after a female turns 30, the size of these glands goes down slightly. A membranous fold of skin called the hymen surrounds and almost covers the vaginal orifice. Sometimes a variety of activities can cause the stretch or tear in the hymen. Two elongated erectile tissue structures known as the bulb of the vestibule are present alongside the vestibule. The vestibule area also has several mucous glands and the vestibule is covered by both labia majora and labia minora.  

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Blood Supply to The Vulva

The vulva gets its blood supply from the three pudendal arteries.  The pudendal nerve, peroneal nerve, ilioinguinal nerve, and their branches supply the vulva. The internal pudendal veins provide drainage. It is the nerve and blood supply to the vulva that helps in sexual arousal that aids in the reproduction process.

Vulvar Pain

Most women experience a painful vulva or a sore vulva at some point. If the pain persists for more than 3 months and there is no apparent cause behind it as per the diagnosis, the condition is called vulvodynia. It can occur at any age but in most cases, it occurs in women between the age of 20 to 40. Sometimes the pain occurs in the entire vulvar region and sometimes it is there only in the lips of the vulva.

Functions of Vulva

Now that we have read about what is the vulva, now is the time to know its functions. The vulva is mainly connected to mental arousal in contrast to getting heavily engaged throughout physical relations. It produces hormones as well as protects embryonic pathways — but it is equally engaged in wastewater flow. As previously said, the vulva function also contains the urethra, which transports urine from the kidneys outside of the person. 

The vulva function is especially active at the time of sexual activity. Throughout stimulation, numerous regions of the body are pumped with circulation, including the inner labia and labia majora, the cervix, and the sensory lobes. This affects the structure of the genitalia, promotes physical gratification, and helps to improve lubricants for physical activity. Such metabolic factors additionally act to increase the odds of pregnancy by depositing sex chemicals that combine with the man's sperm placed in the vagina to enable the ovary to be fertilised.

Vulva cancer, also known as vulvar cancer, is a kind of cancer that attacks the vaginal opening, which is the exterior vaginal parts that safeguard a female's uterus tract.

This is very prone to occur in the outermost genital folds.

Common warning signs: A bulge, stinging, or leaking are all vulvar cancer symptoms of a trustworthy origin.

Vulvar Cancer Symptoms 

Among the clinical symptoms of external genitalia cancer are:

  • Itchy skin 

  • Gentleness and discomfort

  • Blood that's not caused by period

  • Changes in colour or thickness of the epidermis are examples of facial alterations.

  • A bulge, warty pimples, or an open wound (ulcer)

Causes of Vulvar Cancer

Since now we know the vulvar cancer symptoms, let us now understand the causes of vulvar cancer. In theory, experts believe that tumours arise whenever a body's genome undergoes alterations (genetic alterations). The genome contains the instructions that tell a unit how to get there. The alterations instruct the cells to expand or replicate quickly. While other healthy units might perish, the nucleus, as well as its posterity, continue to live. The collecting cell contains a malignant tumour, infecting neighbouring tissues and migrating to certain neighbouring regions of the human system. So, these were the main causes of vulvar cancer.

Vulva Location

The vulva location is in the outermost area of a woman's sexual organs. The vulva is made up of the vaginal entrance (sometimes called the vestibule), the labia majora, the labia minora, and the clitoris. Overall, the vulva location is on the exterior of a female body. 

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Different Types of The Vulva Differ in Each Woman

Vaginal Lips 

Certain women have larger vaginal outside flaps, often known as labia majora. Check the above vulva anatomy diagram to understand better. This is one of the vulva locations. The lip might droop lower, as well as the epidermis might appear thinner or dense and swollen.

The outermost lips seem to be typically smoother and curve far less than the interior lips. Several women possess exterior lips that virtually completely conceal the internal lips as well as their genitals. Some might have the exterior lips curl and connect at the edges, revealing a few of the interior lips above.

If the outermost lips are too small, the lips might fail to connect, exposing the interior lips very clearly. You could get everything once you see the vulva diagram labelled with all parts. 

Inner Side of The Vulva

The innermost lips, or minora, are easily noticeable. These might droop underneath the upper lips or even be conspicuous in various ways. One of the innermost lips could be larger as compared to the other. Imbalance in the genitalia may hardly always indicate a problem.

Several women possess small interior lips which are hidden by their external majora. In some, the exterior and interior Majora and minora are roughly the same sizes. The clitoral stimulation veil that conceals the clit could be seen if the outside or interior lip were tiny enough to be closer to the internal buttocks.

There are also few form variants, although good vaginas come in a wide number of different forms.

Inside The Vaginal Canal

The vaginal cavity is shaped like a pipe, with pleated regions that could stretch or shrink. Many clinicians liken that trait to a harmonica.

According to computed tomography, typical vulvae are thinner at the entrance of the vulva and larger near the vertex. This normally appears in the structure of a "V," and even though this breadth at the thickest spot might fluctuate.

Vulva diagrams labelled with all parts can best make you understand its shape. The female vaginal may appear wider or looser postpartum. It's due to the uterine walls expanding to allow a child to enter the reproductive tract. The vaginal opening may revert to its original length or stay somewhat enlarged.

Did you know?

  • Vulva cancer is uncommon. It is more common in patients over the stage of 60 and therefore is frequently discovered at postmenopausal physical checks. 

  • Vulva cancer occurs for around 4% of malignancies in women's genitals and 0.6 % among all malignancies in women.

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FAQs on Vulva

1. What is the Vulva Meaning? What are its Major Parts?

The vulva is the exterior of the female genitalia. It includes the vaginal opening that is sometimes also referred to as the vestibule, the labia minora called outer lips, labia minora called inner lips, and the clitoris. Vulva meaning is sometimes used synonymously for vagina, however, they are both different. 

2. What are the Similarities Between the Glans Penis and Glans Clitoridis?

The similarities between glans penis and glans clitoridis are:

  • They both contain nerve endings.

  • They are both sensitive to tactile stimulation.

3. What is Vulvar Cancer?

Vulvar meaning is anything related to the vulva. Vulvar cancer is the Primary carcinoma of the vulva and usually occurs in women who have crossed the 50-year mark. It usually affects the labia majora or labia minor first when the patients notice a lump on the perineum or the vulva. A clear diagnosis of the disease can only be made after tissue examination in detail. The ailment can be treated through chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery.

4. What is a sebaceous cyst vulva?

The human body is not completely smooth. It is prone to the formation of numerous warts and ridges. Cysts are simply one sort of development that so many patients encounter. The pouch masses contain liquid, gas, or even other elements. They are rarely hazardous or unpleasant.

Certain cysts remain so tiny that they are not invisible to the human eye. Others have the chance to expand to the length of an apple.

Cysts can be found almost everywhere on the physique, such as the genital area. A genital cyst is frequently found on or beneath the uterine wall.

Causing keratinocyte swelling or damage to the epidermis are the most common causes of sebaceous cysts vulva. Never touch these since they can easily get irritated or contaminated. Keratinocyte cysts are indeed a specific variety of cysts that could develop as a result of injured hair cells or sebaceous adrenals.

5. What is Vulvar Cancer Treatment?

Surgical, chemotherapeutic, chemo and radiotherapy, and molecular treatments are the most common treatments for ulcerated carcinoma. The primary method of treating vulvar carcinoma is surgical. Reliable Outlet's goal would be to eradicate the malignancy while preserving erectile pleasure. If malignancy is discovered in its initial phases, only minor treatment is performed. 

Treatment of vulvar cancer will become quite comprehensive in the final phases if the tumour grows into neighbouring tissues, namely the urethral, vaginal, or scrotum. If you suspect that you have vulvar cancer, it is advisable to visit a doctor and start medication as soon as possible. The more delay happens, the worse the condition becomes.