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Introduction to the female pelvic cavity: want to learn more about it?

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Introduction to the female pelvic cavity

Learning objectives

After working through this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Identify the major structures that form the walls and floor of the female pelvic cavity.
  2. Recognize the major blood vessels that supply and drain the female pelvic cavity.
  3. Name the various organs of the female pelvic cavity.
  4. Understand the anatomical relations and functions of these organs.

Watch video

The female pelvic cavity is bounded by bony and musculoligamentous pelvic walls and floor. It contains several organs from the digestive, reproductive and urinary systems, some of which pass into the perineum. These include the:

  • terminal part of the sigmoid colon, which continues distally as the rectum
  • ovaries, uterine tubes and uterus
  • pelvic part of the ureters and urinary bladder

The female pelvic organs are surrounded by pelvic visceral fascia. Additionally, the parietal peritoneum of the abdominal cavity reflects onto the superior surfaces of some of these organs, forming pouches between adjacent organs. The pelvic floor is formed by a musculofascial pelvic diaphragm composed of the levator ani and coccygeus muscles, that separates the pelvic cavity above from the perineum below.

The female pelvic cavity is supplied by various branches of the internal iliac artery, the superior [ano]rectal artery and the median sacral artery, with the ovary receiving the ovarian artery from the abdominal aorta. Various visceral plexuses carry both sympathetic and parasympathetic fibers that provide innervation to the organs as well as visceral afferent fibers which mostly carry pain sensation to the central nervous system.

This video will help you learn about the anatomy and contents of the female pelvic cavity in detail.

Take a quiz

Challenge yourself further and solidify your knowledge with our quiz about the female pelvic cavity and its contents:

To broaden your understanding of this topic, try out this customizable quiz covering the wider female pelvis.

Browse atlas

Browse our atlas gallery to further review the female pelvic organs you have covered so far.

Now that you have covered the female pelvic organs, take a look at other key structures of the female pelvic cavity and their relations.

Summary

Key points about the female pelvic cavity
Walls and floors Bones: Hip bone (Ilium, ischium, pubis), sacrum, coccyx
Ligaments:
Sacroiliac, sacrospinous, and sacrotuberous
Muscles:
Levator ani, coccygeus, piriformis, obturator internus
Digestive organs Organs: Sigmoid colon, rectum
Functions:
Absorption of minerals, vitamins, water and electrolytes, temporary storage of fecal matter and elimination during defecation
Reproductive organs Organs: Ovary, uterine tube, uterus, vagina
Functions:
Formation and development of ova, production of estrogen and progesterone, implantation of embryo, fetal development
Urinary organs Organs: Pelvic part of ureter, urinary bladder
Functions:
Transport and elimination of urine from from the body
Peritoneal pouches Vesicouterine pouch (between the uterus and urinary bladder)
Rectouterine pouch (between the uterus and rectum)
Blood supply Internal iliac artery: Superior vesical arteries, inferior vesical artery, internal pudendal artery, middle [ano]rectal artery
Superior [ano]rectal artery
(from inferior mesenteric artery)
Median sacral artery
(from aortic bifurcation)
Ovarian artery
(from abdominal aorta)
Innervation Sympathetic: Lumbar splanchnic nerves, hypogastric and pelvic plexuses
Parasympathetic:
Pelvic splanchnic nerves, left and right inferior hypogastric plexuses, and rectal (pelvic) plexus

Well done!

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Continue your learning

Now that you have reviewed this study unit on the female pelvic cavity, take a look at the next directly related study unit on the superior view of the female pelvis.

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