Hesperian Health Guides

A Woman's Reproductive System

A woman has sexual parts both outside and inside her body. They are called the reproductive organs, or genitals. The outside parts are called the vulva. Sometimes people may use the word vagina for the whole area. But the vagina is the part that begins as an opening in the vulva and leads inside to the womb. The vagina is sometimes called the ‘birth canal’.

a woman wearing no clothes, sitting with her legs apart
The drawing below shows what the vulva looks like and what the different parts are called. But every woman’s body is different. There are differences in the size, shape, and color of the parts, especially of the outer and inner folds.

The Breasts

Breasts come in all shapes and sizes. They start to grow when a girl is between 10 and 15 years old, when she changes from a girl to a woman (puberty). They make milk for babies after pregnancy. When they are touched during sexual relations, a woman’s body responds by making her vagina wet and ready for sex.

a woman's body, showing where the reproductive parts are on the inside
Inside the breasts:
illustration of the parts of the breast
Glands make the milk
Ducts carry the milk to the nipple.
Sinuses store the milk until the baby drinks it.
The nipple is where milk comes out of the breast. Sometimes they stick out. Sometimes they are flat.
The areola is the dark and bumpy skin around the nipple. The bumps make an oil that keeps the nipples clean and soft.

This page was updated:17 Apr 2019