The Female Reproductive System
The vulva makes up the external female sex organs which includes; the mons pubis, labia majora and minora (vagina lips), clitoris, clitoral bulbs, urinary meatus and the vaginal opening. The internal lady bits include the hymen, cervix, uterus (womb), fallopian tubes and ovaries. Together the external and internal sex organs make up the beautiful flower which resides between a women's legs, cushioned and protected by the pelvic cavity.
Mons pubis = fatty tissue sensitive to oestrogen causing a distinct mound to form with the onset of puberty and becomes covered with pubic hair. It often becomes less prominent with the decrease in oestrogen during menopause.
Labia majora and minora = the labia make up the lips of the vagina. The outer lips are known as the labia majora while the inner lips are known as the labia minora.
Clitoris = located at the top of the inner lips (labia minora) and above the urethra (urinary opening). The clitoris is famous for its power to harness female sexual pleasure.
Clitoral bulbs = two masses of erectile tissue, situated on either side of the vaginal opening and are closely related to the clitoris. During sexual arousal the bulbs fill with blood, which becomes trapped, causing an erection. As the clitoral bulbs fill with blood, they tightly wrap around the vaginal opening, causing the vulva to expand outwards, this puts pressure on the clitoris inducing pleasure. The blood inside the erectile tissue of the clitoral bulbs is released back to the circulatory system by the spasms of an orgasm, but if orgasm does not occur, the blood will exit the bulbs over several hours.
Urinary meatus = is the opening of the urethra and the point where urine exits the urethra (pee-hole).
Vaginal opening = the vagina is an elastic muscular canal, which extends from the vulva to the cervix. The vagina allows for sexual intercourse and birth. It also channels menstrual flow during the monthly menstrual cycle.
Hymen = is a thin membrane located at the entrance of the vaginal opening. The hymen may range from thin and stretchy to thick and ridged or it may not be present at all. The hymen is not a reliable indicator of virginity!
Cervix = connects the vagina to the uterus. It is about 2-3 cm long and roughly cylindrical in shape. The cervical mucous (discharge), is used as an indicator of fertility.
Uterus = also known as the womb, is the pear-shaped home to the growing foetus during pregnancy. The lower end of the uterus, the cervix, opens into the vagina, while the upper end, the fundus, is connected to the fallopian tubes.
Fallopian tubes = are uterine appendages which contain tiny hairs known as cilia which transport an egg from the ovaries towards the uterus.
Ovaries = is a type of endocrine gland responsible for secreting hormones which play a role in the menstrual cycle and fertility. The ovaries release an egg into the fallopian tube which is then transported towards the uterus.
To comprehend the wonderful workings of female anatomy, we must first explore the playground of hormones which governs female physiology. The female endocrine system is comprised of 8 endocrine glands, namely the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, the pineal gland, the thyroid gland, the parathyroid gland, the adrenal glands, the pancreas and the ovaries. The function of the endocrine glands is to produce hormones which are carried in the blood to target organs. Once hormones reach their target organ, they bind to receptor sites, regulating that organs specific physiology. Thus, the endocrine system is responsible for the onset of two precious phases in a women's young life; puberty and menarche.
Around the tender age of 10, the brain initiates the release of hormones into the blood which find and bind to the female almond ovaries. The ovaries respond by producing oestrogen and progesterone, which transforms the immature body of a girl into the mature body of a woman, capable of sexual reproduction. Oestrogen is responsible for breast development, fat distribution to the hips, legs and breasts as well as the development of the reproductive organs.
A girl's menarche (the onset of menstruation) not only brings her to her physical reproductive power but also to her spiritual power. Menstrual blood is equated with springs and streams – the flowing earth. The fertility cycle is equated to the moon as both their cycles are in synchronicity. A girl's menarche, the transformation from girl to woman, in its essence, makes her equivalent to the Earth and the Moon.
The menstrual cycle is governed by hormonal fluctuations. The length of one menstrual cycle varies between 21-45 days in young woman and 21-35 days in adults, as a women's body adapts and finds balance, the cycle will begin to regulate nearing 28 days per cycle.
The sacred fertility cycle is divided into two cycles, which under the influence of a complex interplay of hormones, occur simultaneously in the ovaries and uterus.
The ovarian cycle includes; the follicular phase, ovulation and the luteal phase.
The uterine cycle includes; menstruation, proliferative phase and secretory phase.
1) During the follicular phase, increasing levels of oestrogen stops menstruation (bleeding) and starts to thicken the lining of the uterus (endometrium) and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) causes follicles to form in the ovaries.
2) At mid-cycle, a surge of LH (luteinizing hormone) initiates ovulation, which releases a mature female egg (dominant follicle) from the ovaries, which travels along the fallopian tubes.
3) The remains of the dominant follicle – becomes the corpus luteum, which produces large amounts of progesterone.
Progesterone prepares the uterus lining (endometrium) for the potential implantation of a fertilised egg – pregnancy.
4) If the implantation does not occur, the corpus luteum will disintegrate – which causes a sharp drop in both progesterone and oestrogen.
5) This sudden drop in hormones, will cause the uterus to shed its lining (endometrium) which is known as menstruation (bleeding).
The menstrual cycle is divided into 4 phases (follicular, ovulation, luteal and menstruation). These 4 phases correspond to the earth’s seasons; Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Just as we feel different with each new season, a woman will feel different during each phase of her fertility cycle. Womans cycles are also in sync with the cycles of the moon. We ovulate when the moon is full and bleed when the moon is new. A full moon expands energy outwards, it is externally focused and ripe for creation. During ovulation women tend to feel more energised, sexual and social. A new moon retracts energy inwards, it is internally focused and ripe for reflection. During menstruation, women focus their energy on letting go; emotionally, physically and mentally. Woman may feel more introverted, reflective and desire internal nourishment.