During puberty, girls begin to release eggs and have periods. This means their bodies are able to reproduce.
The female reproductive system
- A girl has two ovaries that contain all her eggs, or ova. During puberty the ovaries become active and release a mature egg around once per month.
- The fallopian tubes connect the ovaries to the uterus.
- The uterus grows a nutrient-rich lining each month in preparation for pregnancy. If there is no pregnancy then the uterus sheds its lining. This is called a menstrual period.
- The cervix connects the vagina to the uterus. It has a tiny passage that allows some things (like sperm) up to the uterus and some things (like period blood) down to the vagina.
- The vagina is a strong, stretchy passage that connects the vulva to the cervix. The vagina produces a clear or whitish liquid that helps keep itself clean. A girl might start to notice this in her underwear during puberty.
Did you know?
Each month many eggs start maturing in a girl’s ovaries, but only one or two develop enough to be released.
All about the vulva
- The vulva is the name for the outer area of a girl’s reproductive parts (shown in this picture). Vulvas come in all different colours, shapes and sizes, so there’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ vulva. Pubic hair grows around the vulva, the anus, the mons pubis and the top of the thighs.
- The vagina opens at the vulva, but most of the vagina is located inside the girl’s body.
- The labia are the folds of skin that cover the vulva. The labia protect the vulva and prevent bacteria and dirt from entering the urethra and vagina. Labia come in lots of shapes, colours and sizes. They can be darker or redder than the rest of a girl’s skin. The lips might be long or short, wrinkled or smooth, and one lip might be longer than the other. This is all normal.
- The clitoris is at the top of the vulva and looks like a pea-sized bump covered in folds of skin. This bump is only the tip of the clitoris and the rest is inside the body and can’t be seen. The whole clitoris looks like a wishbone with two long ‘arms’ that sit on either side of the vagina.
- The anus is an opening where faeces (poo) comes out.
- The urethra is a very small opening where urine (wee) comes out.
The clitoris has lots of nerve endings so it is very sensitive and pleasurable to touch. A girl might rub her clitoris when she masturbates or her partner might rub it during sex.
Every body is unique and no two bodies look the same – that goes for your genitals too! Vulvas come in many colours, shapes and sizes, so there’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ vulva. Let’s take a closer look.
Just so you know, this slide show has cartoon images of female genitals.