Introduction to the female pelvic cavity
After completing this study unit you will be able to:
- Identify the major structures that form the walls and floor of the female pelvic cavity from different views.
- Recognize the major blood vessels that supply and drain the female pelvic cavity.
- Name the various organs of the female pelvic cavity.
- Understand the anatomical relations and functions of these organs.
The female pelvic cavity 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/spaces 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.
The following videos will help you learn about the anatomy and contents of the female pelvic cavity in more detail.
In the first video, you will have the chance to appreciate the anatomy of the female pelvic viscera and perineum from a lateral view.
The second video will discuss the anatomy and contents of the female pelvis as seen from a superior view.
Take a quiz
Consolidate your fresh learning and challenge yourself further with the following quizzes.
In the first quiz, the anatomical structures of the female pelvis are examined from a lateral (sagittal) view.
This second quiz will allow you to view and identify the contents of the female pelvis from a superior perspective.
To broaden your understanding of this topic, try out this customizable quiz covering the wider female pelvis.
Browse our atlas gallery to further review the female pelvic organs you have covered so far.
|Walls and floors||
Bones: Hip bone (Ilium, ischium, pubis), sacrum, coccyx
Ligaments: Sacroiliac, sacrospinous, and sacrotuberous
Muscles: Levator ani, coccygeus, piriformis, obturator internus
Organs: Sigmoid colon, rectum
Functions: Absorption of minerals, vitamins, water and electrolytes, temporary storage of fecal matter and elimination during defecation
Organs: Ovary, uterine tube, uterus, vagina
Functions: Formation and development of ova, production of estrogen and progesterone, implantation of embryo, fetal development
Organs: Pelvic part of ureter, urinary bladder
Functions:Transport and elimination of urine from from the body
|Peritoneal pouches/depressions||Vesicouterine pouch (between uterus and urinary bladder)
Rectouterine pouch (between uterus and rectum)
Pararectal fossae (lateral to rectum)
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)
Sympathetic: Lumbar splanchnic nerves, hypogastric and pelvic plexuses
Parasympathetic: Pelvic splanchnic nerves, left and right inferior hypogastric plexuses, and rectal (pelvic) plexus
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