A Lesson in Your Parts

As young people with vulvas we may have been taught about our “private parts,” our “hoo ha” or maybe, if the adults in your life were progressive, your vagina. But has anyone talked to you about your vulva?  Here’s a beginner’s version of your body parts, because the first step to communicating with your practitioner or partner is knowing what you are working with.

Knowing the difference between body parts that often get used interchangeably is empowering and necessary to be your own advocate, when a practitioner is talking to you, when you are talking to a practitioner and when caring for these structures appropriately.

VAGINA

The vault or hallway leading from your perineum to your cervix and then uterus for reproductive and sexual function. If someone talks about the introitus this is the opening of the vagina. 

VULVA

The face of your external female genitalia. Encompasses the labia major and minora, clitoris, urethra, perineum.

PELVIS

The bony structure between your lower back and your legs that helps to support the weight of your body. It holds your reproductive organs with soft tissue support by an intricate network of fascia (your soft tissue scaffolding) and serves as the attachment points to pelvic floor muscles, abdominal muscle, hip muscles, and low back muscles. Think of this part of the body as your friend that brings everybody together for happy hour – the connector. 

PELVIC FLOOR

A group of muscles that have sexual function, support abdominal pelvic viscera (organs), resist increase in pressure during activities, and have sphincteric action for urinary and fecal continence in the muscles of the rectum and urethra. Prevents constant strain on the ligament structures holding up the pelvic viscera. Different muscles fulfill the functions of elevation and closure.

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Hi, I'm Dr. Laurel Proulx

I’m a researcher, educator, Pelvic Health PT, and advocate to help you find the answers and care you’ve been looking for.

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