Bodies 101

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VERIFIED BY Jessica O’Reilly, PhD

Perhaps you’re on the hunt for magazine articles that detail “hot sex tips you can try in bed tonight!” Well, magazine sex tricks like “tickling him with a feather” or “dominating her more in bed” aren’t the best ways to up your sex game. If your goal is maximum pleasure, it’s important to start with the basics. We also want you to get to know your body. Whether you are having sex or not, you have the right to understand how your body works.

No worries, this anatomy lesson isn’t going to be like learning about reproduction in high school sex ed. There’s plenty of body parts those lessons left out. What you’re about to learn is essential if you want to give yourself and your partners toe-curling satisfaction. Once we give you the building blocks of the anatomical basics, we’ll dive deeper into orgasm and pleasure.

Vaginal Anatomy

The Vulva

This refers to the external genitals. It’s what many of us colloquially call the vagina. Technically, however, the vagina is only on the inside. An easy way to think of it is — the vulva is everything you can see on the surface. This includes the lips (also called the labia minora and majora), clitoris, mons pubis, and the vaginal and urethral openings. Because the vulva is a hotbed of erotic sensations, we’ll focus on it quite a bit when we mention pleasure techniques.

The Labia Majora & Labia Minora a.k.a. “The Lips”

The labia majora are often called the outer lips. They’re fleshy and connect to the thighs. Depending on grooming habits they may or may not be covered with pubic hair.

The labia minora, or inner lips, are thin, hairless, and ripe with nerve endings. They also contain erectile tissue and glands that produce scent, sweat, and sebum (a thin, oily, substance that lubricates the area). Although the labia minora produce pleasant sexual sensations, they have a functional purpose too. The inner lips protect the urethral and vaginal openings.

The inner labia look different from body to body. Sometimes they’re nestled underneath the labia majora only visible when the outer labia are spread apart. On other bodies, they may be longer and easily seen. There are variations in color too like pink, purple, or brown. Color may also change at different points in life such as during pregnancy or with age. When it comes to vaginal (and penile) anatomy, the visual variety is infinite. No two sets of genitals look exactly the same.

Mons Pubis

This area is also called the pubic mound or Venus mound. It’s the fatty tissue above the pubic bone and beneath the belly button. On a person that doesn’t shave or wax, this is where a large patch of pubic hair grows. Just underneath the pubic mound is the base of the of the clitoris’s suspensory ligament — in other words, there’s erotic hidden treasure here. Playing with this often overlooked area can augment other sexual techniques and result in powerful orgasms.

The Clitoris

Most of us think of the clitoris as a pea sized, sensitive mass of erectile tissue at the top of the vulva. That’s not entirely correct. The part of the body we normally call the clitoris is just a small portion of a much larger organ.

The entire clitoris averages around 10 cm in length. In fact, the vulva and vagina have just as much erectile tissue as the penis. The difference is, most of that sensitive tissue is hidden beneath the surface of the vulva. Learning exactly where all of this erectile tissue is and how to best stimulate it is the key to stronger, more frequent orgasms.

Amazingly the clitoris is the only part of the human body designed purely for pleasure. It has 8,000 nerve endings, which is double the amount in the glans penis. Mastering this elusive organ is a game-changer.

The entire clitoral structure, also called the internal clitoris, is shaped sort of like a wishbone and runs long either side of the vaginal opening just underneath the labia. Many scientists also believe the g-spot is is part of this structure. In addition, the internal structure is made up of other parts like the head, hood, shaft, legs, and bulbs.

The Clitoral Glans or “Clitoral Head”

The clitoral glans or “head” of the clitoris is nestled at the top of the vulva where the inner lips meet. This external portion of the clitoris is spongy and sensitive. On some bodies it’s hidden under the clitoral hood while on others it’s more prominent. When stimulated, it, along with other areas of erectile tissue, swells with blood. This engorgement correlates directly to sexual arousal.

Clitoral Hood

This is the piece of skin that covers the head of the clitoris. It’s similar to foreskin on uncircumcised penises.

Clitoral Shaft

Just underneath the clitoral head is the shaft. It goes downward into the body. When erect it swells and wraps around the vagina on the inside. Some people enjoy their shaft stroked during sexual pleasure. It’s similar to stroking a penis but on a much smaller scale. A finger tip on each side of the shaft gently tugging can do the trick.

Clitoral Legs

Inside the body the clitoral legs extend down either side of the vaginal canal in an inverted “V” shape. They can be as long as 3.5 inches (9 cm) and connect to a larger network of erectile tissue. When aroused this area swells and points lightly backward.

Clitoral Bulbs

The clitoral bulbs are beside the clitoral legs and lie just underneath the labia. When aroused they fill with blood and push the vulva outward. This is why a sexually stimulated vulva looks slightly swollen.

The Urethral Sponge/ G-spot

The urethral sponge is an area of erectile and glandular tissue surrounding the urethra. It encases the urethra similar to how paper towels surround a cardboard tube. Part of the urethral sponge can be accessed 1-2 inches inside the vagina on the wall closest to the stomach. This area is more commonly called the G-spot.

Named after German Gynecologist Ernst Gräfenberg, the G-spot is the talk of the town. More of an area than a specific spot, it’s said to be the key to mind-blowing orgasms. It may be difficult to find when not aroused. With excitement the G-spot swells and stiffens. It’s ridges also become more pronounced as it becomes increasingly sensitive. This area is thought by some experts to be part of the larger clitoral structure.

Skene’s Glands

Sometimes called the paraurethral gland or the female prostate, The Skene’s Glands are the glandular tissue found in the urethral sponge. These glands are the source of ‘female ejaculation’ and empty into the urethra.

Some people claim that when someone squirts during sex, it’s actually urine. It’s not pee at all. This is ejaculate from the Skene’s glands exiting through the urethra.

Urethral opening

This is the hole that urine and ejaculate come out of.


Also called the frenulum of labia minora, this where the labia meet at the bottom of the vaginal opening. For some this is a very sexually sensitive area.


The vagina is the tubular canal that connects the external sex organs with the cervix and uterus. It’s composed of mucus membranes, muscle, and elastic tissue. The vagina is resilient — it’s designed to stretch enough to give birth and then go back to its normal size.

In addition to being a birth canal, the vagina is where menstrual flow is expelled and where sexual penetration can occur. The vaginal canal is normally 2-4 inches long but with sexual excitement can grow to 4-8 inches.

Although the head of the clitoris has the most concentrated cluster of nerve endings in the genital area, the vagina is not to be ignored. In addition to housing the g-spot, portions of the internal clitoris can stimulated through the vagina too. It also contains other areas of the erectile tissue, like the perineal sponge located on the back wall of the vagina.

Vaginal discharge

The vagina is a finely tuned ecosystem. It’s designed to keep itself pH balanced and clean. If you’ve ever noticed white or clear fluid in your underwear the the end of the day, it’s nothing to worry about. It’s likely normal discharge which means your vagina is doing its job.

Discharge may change slightly in color, consistency, and amount depending on a number of factors. Exercise, sexual arousal, ovulation, birth control pill use, monthly cycle, and stress can all affect vaginal discharge.

If discharge suddenly takes on unusual characteristics that’s when to take notice. Signs to look for are a yellow or green color, foul odor, or unusual thickness. If any of these are accompanied by vaginal itching or burning you may have a yeast or bacterial infection. See your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.


The hymen is a thin, stretchy membrane surrounding the vaginal opening. Many believe that “intact” hymen represents “virginity.” This is where the phrase “popping your cherry” comes from. It refers to the hymen tearing and bleeding during one’s first experience of sexual intercourse.

In reality, that doesn’t always happen. The hymen being a seal that breaks during the first time is actually a bit of a myth. It’s also a very unreliable measure of virginity. Not everyone has enough of a hymen to have much discomfort or bleeding the first time they have intercourse. Others stretch their hymen during regular activities. Things like biking, horseback riding, gymnastics, inserting a tampon, or masturbating can break the hymen years before sexual activity.

Bartholin’s Glands

These two pea-sized glands are located near the bottom of the vulva. Their ducts are to the left and right of the vaginal opening. Bartholin’s glands secrete small amounts of fluid to lubricate the vagina during sex. If you’ve ever heard someone say that they get ‘wet’ when they’re aroused, that’s a sexy way of saying their Bartholin’s glands are operating at full capacity.


The cervix is a cylindrical shaped neck of tissue that attaches the vagina to the uterus. It acts as a channel between both, allowing menstrual flow to exit and sperm to enter. During childbirth it widens enough for birth.

At different times during the monthly cycle the cervix changes shape and texture. For instance, during ovulation it produces mucus and during menstruation it widens. When it comes to sex and pleasure these changes can affect how penetration feels. When the cervix is swollen it may be more prone to being bumped uncomfortably during sex. This also explains why penetration can sometimes feel different at various times.


The uterus is a pear shaped organ located between the bladder and rectum. It also contains some of the most impressive musculature in the human body. Normally about the size of a fist, it can expand to the size of a watermelon during pregnancy. It’s also strong enough to push out a baby.

The uterus also plays an important role during sex. During orgasm the anal sphincter, vagina, and uterus contract rhythmically. This is part of what makes climax feel so good.

The position of the uterus may also affect which sex position feels most enjoyable. Approximately 1 in 5 women have what is commonly called a ‘tilted uterus’. This means the uterus is tilted slightly backward. This is a normal variation that isn’t a serious health condition. It may, however, make positions like ‘doggy style’ uncomfortable.


The ovaries produce hormones and store eggs. From puberty to menopause each month they release an egg during ovulation. Although it’s usually not apparent when it happens, some women feel a slight twinge on one side of their lower abdomen when an egg is released. This twinge is called Mittelschmerz which means ‘middle pain’.

Fallopian Tubes

When an egg is released from an ovary it travels through the Fallopian tube to the uterus. If pregnancy occurs, the egg is fertilized in the Fallopian tube and then travels down and implants in the uterus.


Fimbriae look like tiny fingers at the end of each Fallopian tube. Their purpose is to sweep the egg from the ovary into the tube. Interestingly, only one fimbria is long enough to reach the ovary. It’s called fimbria ovarica.


This is the rectal opening — what we commonly call the butt hole. The anus contains two sphincters and exceptionally sensitive nerve endings. Anal stimulation can be quite pleasurable on its own in or in conjunction with genital stimulation. Anything from tickling, touching, or licking the outside of the anus to penetrating it with fingers, sex toys, or a penis is desired by many, but not all. Anal play can be very pleasurable for anyone regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.

When engaging in anal play, it’s important to remember a few things. First, never put anything in the anus without a flared base. The rectum has a way of grabbing on to objects and sucking them in. Toys made specifically for anal play are designed to prevent this from happening. Secondly, using protection during anal sex is important because STIs can be transmitted this way. Lastly, unlike the vagina, the anus does not self lubricate. Always use lubrication when playing anally because this tissue is delicate and prone to tearing.


This is the area between the southernmost point of the vulva and the anus.

tabú tip!

One of the best ways to be sexually confident and have agency over your own erotic experiences is knowing how your mind and body works. When it comes to the vulva there’s a lot going on down there! Grab a mirror and have a look around. The more you experiment and the better you understand yourself, the more positive your sexual experiences will be.

Penile Anatomy


The penis is a reproductive sex organ that becomes erect during sexual arousal. It consists of the head and shaft.


The urethra runs along the inside of the penis and carries urine and semen out of the body.


The shaft of the penis is what lies between the head and the base and testicles. It’s made of three columns of spongy erectile tissue that extend from head to base — the corpus spongiosum and two corpora cavernosa. The corpus spongiosum runs along the underside of the penis and is highly sensitive. When playing with an erect penis this would be side that is pointing outward.


The top of the penis. Much like the clitoral glans, it’s packed with nerve endings and can be incredibly sensitive. When it comes to sexual stimulation this area often gets a lot of attention.


This is a protective layer of skin that covers the head to of penis. Some people don’t have foreskin because it was removed by circumcision when they were a baby. Sometimes uncircumcised people with penises are called ‘uncut’. While at one time most males in the US were circumcised; the number has rapidly declined over the last few decades. Today only one in three male babies are circumcised at birth.

Some studies suggest uncircumcised penises are slightly more sensitive than their ‘cut’ counterparts. When it comes to sexual function, there aren’t too many differences between the two types. In uncircumcised penises the foreskin usually retracts during erection. Some may need to give it a helping hand, however. The foreskin can be delicate so it should never be handled roughly. Aside from those minor differences, circumcised and uncircumcised penises generally perform the same sexually.


This is a line of tissue that looks similar to a seam. It runs from the underside of the penis, over the scrotal sac and perineum, and ends at the anus.


This is a band of connective tissue that connects the shaft to the head of the penis. It is an erotic hot spot! This little nub is highly reactive to sexual touch.


This is the space between the base of the scrotum and anus. It is loaded with hidden erotic gems. You can stimulate both the prostate and the bulb of the penis through this patch of skin. It’s also the location of the “million-dollar point.” Pressing this spot in the right way can impede ejaculation during climax and open the door for multiple orgasms. This area is at the very back of the perineum near the anal opening.


This is the sac that holds the testicles.


Nestled inside the scrotum these two glands produce hormones and sperm. Also known as the balls, during sex they are perfect for stroking, licking, and gently tugging on.


The epididymis is the tube that connects the vas deferens to a testicle. This is where sperm mature before ejaculation.


This muscle automatically moves the testicles closer to the body when the thigh is stimulated.

Vas deferens

The vas deferens are two tubes that transport sperm from the epididymis to the seminal vesicles during ejaculation.

Cowper’s glands

Located beneath the prostate and attached to the urethra, these two pea-sized glands produce pre-ejaculate/pre-cum. This fluid prepares the urethra by making it more hospitable for sperm to travel through.

Seminal Vesicles

The seminal vesicles are two small glands located below the bladder that produce seminal fluid.

Prostate Gland

Sometimes called the p-spot or ‘male g-spot,’ the prostate is a pleasure powerhouse. About the size of a walnut, its purpose is to create the fluid that helps sperm travel through the reproductive tract. It can be sexually stimulated through the anus and is capable of producing unusually strong orgasms.


Otherwise known as the butt hole, the anus is hotbed of erotic nerve endings. Some people enjoy it touched, played with, licked, or penetrated. Others do not. Anal play can be very pleasurable for anyone regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.

When engaging in anal play, it’s important to remember a few things. First, never put anything in the anus without a flared base. The rectum has a way of grabbing on to objects and sucking them in. Toys made specifically for anal play are designed to prevent this from happening. Secondly, using protection during anal sex is important because STIs can be transmitted this way. Lastly, unlike the vagina, the anus does not self lubricate. Always use lubrication when playing anally because this tissue is delicate and prone to tearing.

tabú tip!

One of the best ways to be sexually confident and have agency over your own erotic experiences is knowing how your mind and body works. As you get to know your body, remember to take it slow. Always respect yourself and others!

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