A woman should be familiar with the workings of her body as a whole, but in particular the reproductive system which is the prime characteristic of her biological femininity. According to both Indian and Chinese ancient sacred wisdoms it is the seat of her primal energy and her most powerful force.
Womans_BodyThe internal location of the reproductive organs does not lend itself to easy exploration and many women, even today, remain ignorant of the reasons for the periodic bodily changes they experience. This is compounded by the secrecy, shame and superstition that so often surround female sexuality. This simple discussion is in order to assist women to a more sensitive and objective awareness of their bodies. However, standard physiology is only a framework for clarifying the personal perceptions that are the real foundation of a woman’s knowledge of her body.
Sensitivity to, and understanding of, the signs of her body’s functioning are an antidote to fear and an aid to every woman’s confidence. Moreover, knowledge of the rhythms and workings of health is the basis of early detection of any disturbance of ill health. This kind of body awareness is available to every woman and a few have developed their sensitivity to such an extent that they can not only sense physical changes, but also the flow of subtle energy. Knowledge is power, and the power of sensitive control of her own body is each woman’s birthright.
The female reproductive system consists of that group of organs which has for its object the bringing forth of young. The main components of this system are the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, the uterus (womb), the vagina and the clitoris.
The external genitals are known as the vulva (named after the word valva (folding door) because it is the door of the womb) consisting of the clitoris and two sets of fleshy lips – the labia majora on the outside and the smaller labia minora on the inside, at the opening of the vagina.
If the labia minora are separated, two openings are seen; a smaller one above (the urinary opening – the urethra) and a larger one below for the vagina. The vagina is a tube like passage which leads to the womb.The point where womb and vagina meet is the cervix. The vagina is about three inches long, but capable of considerable extension. The function of the vagina is to contain the penis of the male and to provide a passage for the seminal fluid. During sexual intercourse the cervix rises and the vagina lengthens towards the back, forming a hollow into which the semen is deposited as in a small pool. After intercourse, the cervix descends into this pool, submerging itself in the seminal fluid which can then flow into the uterus and the Fallopian tubes.
In most girls who have not had sexual intercourse there is a thin membrane which must be broken before full sexual intercourse can take place. The breaking of the hymen usually takes place during the first copulation but it may have occurred before that time. The absence of a hymen does not mean that a girl is not a virgin, although its presence is a fairly sure sign that she is.
The clitoris is a tiny erectile organ externally visible at the very top of the vulva. It is extremely sensitive enlarging in size with excitation and covered with a fold of skin like the foreskin in the male. The clitoris crown (the sensitive tip that can be easily seen and felt) is only a small (though important) part of an extensive interconnected network densely populated with multiple sensory receptors and richly endowed with sensory nerve tissues and blood vessels encapsulating what is termed the clitoral system. The clitoris is credited with containing a higher concentration of nerve fibres than any other part of the human body its primary function being sexual pleasure and gratification. Constructed of an amazing type of tissue it is incredibly sensitive to touch – both directly on its visible and protruding head or crown, and indirectly, via stimulation of the skin and tissue surrounding its body and legs which run deep inside.
Clitoral dissections show that the clitoris has a far more intimate relationship with the urethra and vagina than previously thought. The size of the clitoris is such that its legs wrap round the vaginal barrel, while together the clitoral body and legs surround the urethra on three sides (the other side of the urethra is embedded in the upper or front wall of the vagina). This close connection between the structures means that they work together as a unit. During sexual arousal, one effect of clitoral engorgement or erection is to put pressure on the urethra, squeezing it shut. This move is thought to prevent bacteria entering the urethra and causing bladder or urinary tract infections, again highlighting the clitoris’ protective and preparative role so it’s vitally important for a woman to be aroused before having sexual intercourse.
The breasts are not directly involved in reproduction but provide the source of nourishment for the new-born child and act as indicators of body rhythms. The breasts are a pair of glands situated on either side of the chest. They contain special glandular tissue which produces and secretes milk. This milk is carried by a series of ducts to the nipple, which consists of erectile tissue and contains openings through which the infant sucks the milk. The secretion of milk is stimulated by the act of sucking. Breast milk confers some immunity on the infant as well as being suited to its needs and digestive capacities.
The breasts are very sensitive and the nipples respond to excitement by becoming erect and hard. It is not uncommon for the breasts to reflect the phases of the menstrual cycle. Many women find their breasts become larger and heavier just before menstruation begins, then returning to normal within a day or two.
The womb or uterus is a pear-shaped organ, about three inches long, connected to the outer surface of the body by the vagina. The uterine walls are made up of some of the strongest muscles in the female body. These muscles consist of an outer layer of membrane and an inner mucus lining. The uterus is usually tilted forward, with the mouth (cervix) towards the back. Once an egg is fertilised it embeds itself in the uterus, and this organ can actually expand to many times its original size in order to accommodate the developing child.
The Fallopian Tubes
On either side of the uterus, in the abdomen, is a fine tube called the Fallopian tube, curving outwards and terminating in a free, fringed, trumpet shaped end. The end is placed close to the ovary and the egg passes through this tube after leaving the ovary. The two Fallopian tubes are about four inches long and no thicker than a hair at the place where they enter the uterus. It takes the egg three or four days to pass through the tubes. If unfertilised it disintegrates before reaching the uterus. If fertilised it embeds itself in the uterine lining.
An ovary is approximately spherical in shape, about an inch long, and weighs three grams or so. There are two ovaries in the female body, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries produce ova which are tiny, microscopic cells or eggs. An egg ripens and is released from one or other ovary in every period of about four weeks. It is thought that the ovaries alternate in production, but this is not certain. Occasionally it may happen that more than one egg is released and, if both are fertilised twins will be born. The process of releasing an ovum (one egg) is called ovulation. Under stimulus from the pituitary hormones the ovaries also produce the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which govern the menstrual cycle.
The Broad Ligament
On each side, the Fallopian tube, the ovary, the uterine blood vessels and nerves lie together on a wide sheet of tissue known as the broad ligament, which passes from the uterus to the side wall of the pelvis. It consists of the same type of membrane lining the abdomen.the Menstrual CycleAny system is more than the sum of its parts, and this is especially true of the female reproductive system. Under the direction of the pituitary gland, this system functions to the hormonal rhythm that results in ovulation and menstruation, and which subtly influences a woman’s health and emotions.
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