Nerves of the female pelvis
After completing this study unit you will be able to:
- Identify the nerves involved in the somatic innervation of the female pelvis.
- Name the nerves involved in the autonomic innervation of the female pelvis.
- Describe the functions of the somatic and autonomic innervation of the female pelvis.
The nervous supply to the female pelvis involves both somatic innervation (motor and sensory) of the skin and skeletal muscle, and autonomic (visceral) innervation of the pelvic organs and glands.
Somatic innervation to the female pelvis stems from the lumbar, sacral and coccygeal plexus. The nerves arising from them provide sensory as well as motor innervation to the skin and muscles of the pelvis.
Autonomic innervation is provided by both sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Sympathetic innervation is carried by the lumbar and sacral splanchnic nerves, which go on to form the superior hypogastric plexus. Parasympathetic innervation is carried by the pelvic splanchnic nerves, which merge with a branch of the superior hypogastric plexus to form the inferior hypogastric plexus. These in turn divide into several smaller plexuses that are close to the target organs, collectively known as pelvic plexuses. Fibers from these plexuses innervate the blood vessels, glands and organs of the female pelvis.
Are you curious to discover more details about the nerves of the female pelvis? Then watch the video below.
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Explore each neural structure in detail in the gallery below.
Plexus: Lumbar plexus, sacral plexus, coccygeal plexus.
Nerves: Obturator nerve, pudendal nerve, anococcygeal nerves.
Function: Sensory innervation of vulva and perineum, motoric innervation of muscles of the pelvic floor.
Plexus: Superior hypogastric plexus, inferior hypogastric plexus, vesical plexus, uterovaginal plexus, rectal plexus.
Nerves: Lumbar splanchnic nerves, sacral splanchnic nerves, hypogastric nerves, pelvic splanchnic nerves.
Function: Sympathetic and parasympathetic innervation of rectum, vesica urinaria, urethra, uterus, ovaries, vagina.
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