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Cervix, vagina and vulva

Learning objectives:

After completing this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Identify the structures that make up the cervix, vagina and vulva
  2. Understand the anatomical relations of the cervix and vagina
  3. Discover the function of the cervix, vagina and vulva

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The cervix is a narrow canal about 2.5 cm long that connects the body of the uterus to the vagina. It is divided into a supravaginal part (endocervix) found superior to the vagina, and a vaginal part (ectocervix) which projects into the vagina. The cervix has many functions, such as facilitating passage of sperm, providing a physical barrier from pathogens and foreign objects, and maintaining physical integrity as the uterus enlarges during pregnancy. The cervix directly communicates with the vagina, which is the most distal part of the internal female genitalia.

The vagina is a flexible muscular canal that has a variety of functions, including menstruation, childbirth, and sexual intercourse. It is situated in the lesser pelvis, lying between the urinary bladder anteriorly, and the rectum posteriorly. It measures about 8 to 10 cm long, extending from the cervix of the uterus to the external genitalia.

The vulva is a collection of structures that represents the external part of the female reproductive system (external genitalia) surrounding the vaginal orifice. It consists of the mons pubis, labia majora, labia minora, clitoris, external orifice of the urethra, vestibule of vagina, vestibular bulb, hymen and vestibular (Bartholin) glands. The vulva plays a role in stimulation and arousal during sexual intercourse, while also protecting the internal organs of the female reproductive system.

Watch the following video to learn more about these important parts of the female reproductive system.

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Browse atlas

Take a closer look at each of the structures in this region in the gallery below!


Key points about the cervix and vagina
Classification Internal female genitalia
Definition Cervix: Lowermost portion of the uterus approximately 2.5 cm long, connecting the body of uterus to the vagina.
Very flexible fibrocartilaginous tube approximately 8- 10 cm long, connecting the cervix of the uterus to the external genitalia (vulva)
Parts Cervix: supravaginal and vaginal part
Relations Superior: Body of uterus
Urinary bladder, urethra
Deep transverse perineal muscle, levator ani muscle, paracolpium, ureter, cardinal ligament.
Functions Cervix: Facilitates passage of sperm, maintains sterility of uterus, maintains physical integrity as the uterus enlarges during pregnancy and expands during labor.
Menstruation, childbirth, sexual intercourse
Key points about the vulva
Classification External female genitalia
Components Mons pubis, labia majora, labia minora, clitoris.
Vaginal opening: external orifice of the vagina and urethra
Relations Bulb of vestibule, artery of bulb of vestibule, bulbospongiosus muscle, perineal fascia
Functions Sexual function: arousal and stimulation.
Protection of the internal female genitalia

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Now that you have completed and mastered this topic, feel free to continue learning about the female reproductive organs, this time studying about the uterus and ovaries, and the female pelvis as a whole.

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