Body Basics, Sex, & Reproduction

It’s important to know which body parts do what and how pregnancy happens. Here’s a review of the basics.

Female Sex & Reproductive Organs

External Female

Vulva: Includes all of the external female sex organs. Many people just refer to the vulva collectively as “vagina,” but it is actually many different body parts including the labia majora, labia minora, clitoris, urethra, and vagina.

Clitoris: A small, very sensitive part of the female genitals located at the top of the labia minora. For some people, stimulating the clitoris is the best way for them to have an orgasm.

Labia majora: Literally means “large lips.” These enclose and protect the other external reproductive organs.

Urethra:  Located below the clitoris. This is where pee comes out.

Labia minora: Literally means “small lips.” Located just inside the labia majora, they surround the openings to the vagina and urethra and come in different shapes and sizes.

Vagina: The vagina is the passage between the uterus (where babies grow) and the outside of the body. Most of the vagina is not actually seen—it’s inside the body and leads all the way up to the cervix (the bottom part of uterus). Only the opening can be seen from the outside. The vagina is where blood comes out during a period, where a baby comes out, and where a penis enters during what is called “vaginal sex.” Discharge, a non-bloody fluid, often comes from here too.

Anus: The opening through which solid waste (poop) exits the body.

Everyone’s vulva and vagina are unique.  They may look different from someone else’s, and that’s okay.  There is no “right way” they’re supposed to look.  If you’re really worried, or experiencing any kind of pain, you might want to see a healthcare provider to check it out.

Internal Female

Fallopian tubes: Tubes that are attached to the upper part of the uterus.  Most common location where egg and sperm meet (fertilization).

Ovary: Where eggs are released from during ovulation.

Ovum: Literally means “egg.” When an egg meets a sperm, fertilization can happen.

Uterus: The uterus is a hollow, pear-shaped organ that becomes the home to a developing pregnancy. Each month, tissue grows on the inner walls of the uterus. If pregnancy does not occur, the uterus will shed this, tissue during menstruation (or period).

Cervix: The lower part of the uterus with a small opening into the vagina. This is where gonorrhea and chlamydia infections start, and can be tested for with a swab (may also be tested from urine). Starting at age 21, cervical cells are collected during a cancer screening test called a pap smear, and also when testing for HPV (a virus that can cause certain cancers, learn more about the HPV vaccine here). These cancer screenings are different than gonorrhea and chlamydia testing—always ask to make sure you understand what test is being done.

Vagina: The passage that joins the lower part of the uterus to the outside of the body.

Male Sex & Reproductive Organs

External Male

Penis: The penis ejaculates semen (cum) through the urethra, which contains millions of sperm.

Scrotum: Contains the testicles (testes).

Glans: The tip or head of the penis.

Urethra: Located at the tip of the penis. Where urine (pee) and semen (ejaculate, or “cum”) exit the body.

Foreskin: The layer of skin covering the glans of an uncircumcised penis. If a penis is circumcised, the foreskin skin has been removed.

Anus: The opening through which solid waste (poop) exits the body. (not pictured)

Everyone’s penis is unique.  They may look different from someone else’s, and that’s okay.  There is no “right way” it’s supposed to look.  If you’re really worried, or experiencing any kind of pain, you might want to see a healthcare provider to check it out.

Internal Male

Bladder: Stores urine.

Seminal vesicle: They produce fluid that combines with sperm to become semen (ejaculate, or “cum”), which is ejaculated through the urethra during orgasm.

Vas deferens: A tube that transports mature sperm to the urethra during ejaculation.

Epididymis: Where sperm is stored before it is transported into the vas deferens during ejaculation.

Testes/Testicles: Male sex organs that make sperm and testosterone (a hormone).

Urethra: Located at the tip of the penis. Where urine (pee) and semen (ejaculate, or “cum”) exit the body.

How Pregnancy Happens

Sperm

The penis ejaculates semen (cum), which contain million of sperm.

Sperm can live up to 6 days.
There may be sperm in pre-ejaculate (pre-cum).

EGG

An egg is released from the ovaries once a month (ovulation).

Time of ovulation can be different for every person.
Most people don’t know when they ovulate.

Fertilization

The sperm swims to meet the egg. The sperm enters the egg (fertilization).

IMPLANTATION

The fertilized egg implants in the wall of the uterus. Once it finds this new home it becomes a pregnancy.

Sex & Reproduction

Sex

Sex means different things to different people. It can be a healthy and natural thing. Sex doesn’t just mean vaginal sex (a penis in a vagina); it can include a range of sexual activity.  However you define it, sex should always be consensual (done with the consent of the people involved).

 

 

Sexual Activity

Sexual activity is vaginal sex, anal sex, oral sex, and anytime someone’s genitals are in contact with another person’s genitals while clothes are off. It doesn’t matter what gender you are or the gender of the person you’re sexually active with.

Vaginal Sex: When a penis is inserted into a vagina. This is how pregnancy happens.

Oral Sex: This includes any contact between a person’s mouth and another person’s vulva, penis, or anus.

Anal Sex: When a penis is inserted into someone’s anus.

Glossary of Terms

Douching

Douching is flushing water or other fluids through the vagina. The vagina is self-cleaning, so there’s no need to douche or wash inside. It can also push bacteria higher in the body and lead to infection.  The only cleaning needed is outside, on the vulva and labia.

Ejaculate/semen/cum

Fluid that is ejected from the tip of the penis during ejaculation. It is made up of seminal fluid and sperm.

Ejaculation

The act of semen releasing from tip of the penis.

Fertilization

When a sperm and an egg meet, typically in the fallopian tubes, after ovulation.

Menstruation

The monthly process of flushing out the tissue on the inner walls of the uterus (called endometrium). Often lasts 4–7 days, and can vary by person.

Orgasm

A climax of sexual excitement, with feelings of pleasure that are centered in the genitals.

Ovulation

Ovulation is when an egg (“ovum”) is released from the ovary.

Pap Smear

A cancer screening test when cervical cells are collected. This is also how HPV testing is done.

Pregnancy

Begins when a fertilized egg implants into the wall of the uterus.

Sperm

The male sex cell. There are millions of sperm contained in semen (cum). When a sperm enters a female sex cell (an ovum or egg), fertilization occurs.

Vaginal Discharge

Secretions which can have different textures or colors. How much vaginal discharge a person has can vary, but is often normal. If there is itching, burning or an unusual odor (like dark yellow or green), visit a health care provider to check things out.