At Lunette HQ, we put a lot of energy into knowing the magical mysteries of a menstruating person's body and applying this knowledge to our products.
Team Lunette is doing a lot more than making and selling the best menstrual cups and products on the market — we aim to educate and inform the wonderful world of menstruation. But there’s this odd trend we’re seeing more of: many of us know more about our Facebook pages than we know about our inner workings. Weird! Team Lunette understands, and believes that’s been part of the educational problem: if you knew more about your body, and had better, more credible information (like how your body reacts to current "feminine protection" offerings), you might be able to make more informed choices. Right?
So that’s part of our mission. Our founder, Heli Kurjanen took the industry ‘by the strings’ and showed them very clearly what menstruating people wanted. Today, our customers are showing up en masse to do something better for themselves, their bodies and the planet.
So stay with us for a little minute, and let’s relive our Biology of Reproductive Anatomy class. It’s a refresher course for some, and perhaps, a first time read for our younger customers, but it’s always good to know.
Humans are fascinating creatures, so let’s get scientific….
As the term implies, the external female anatomy includes the genitals that are outside the body. Collectively, this region is called the vulva. The vulva includes the outer and inner lips of the labia (labia majora and labia minora), clitoris, and the openings to the urethra and vagina. This entire area is often mistakenly referred to as the vagina — what you can see externally is simply the vaginal opening. You’ll learn more about the vagina later in the internal anatomy section.
The mons veneris, or mons pubis, is the fleshy triangular area above the vulva that protects and cushions the pubic bone during sex. In adolescent and adult women it is covered in pubic hair.
Also called the outer lips, the labia majora are the outer folds of skin surrounding the vaginal opening. They are usually larger than the labia minora, but it is not uncommon for the inner lips to be the same size or larger than the outer lips. The labia majora can vary in color—pink, crimson, reddish brown—all of which are considered normal. They can also vary in length from short to long and may appear smooth or wrinkled. The outer lips serve as a protective layer to shield the genitals from dirt and bacteria.
The labia minora, or inner lips, are the thin folds of skin within the labia majora. The inner lips cover the vaginal and urethral openings. This area within the labia minora is called the vestibule. The inner lips of the labia are multi-purpose: they offer another layer of protection to keep bacteria from entering these openings and they contain nerve endings that enhance sexual pleasure.
Located just above the urethral opening, the clitoris is a highly sensitive part of the genitals located at the top of the vulva. The clitoral hood protects the visible tip of the clitoris. Did you know that only part of the clitoris can be seen from the outside? Made of erectile tissue, it actually extends well into the body, about 5 inches, on either side of the vagina. It contains twice as many sensory nerve endings as the male penis, and its only purpose is sexual pleasure.
The urethral opening is located just below the clitoris. The urethra is a tube connected to the bladder through which urine passes from the body.
The opening to the vagina is located below the urethral opening. You can find out more about the vagina in the next section discussing internal anatomy.
The internal female anatomy includes the parts you can’t see, but where all the reproductive action happens with: the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Whether or not a baby is present, the hormonal functions of these organs impact a woman’s daily life.
This is the muscular tube that connects the external genitals to the cervix of the uterus. The vagina is approximately 2 to 4 inches long and can double in length when a woman is aroused. The walls of the vagina can be described as layers of wrinkles or folds of tissue. Menstrual blood flows from the uterus through the cervix, and exits the body through the vagina. Mucus is generated to keep the vagina moist, enable lubrication for sex, trap semen for conception, and to cleanse the vagina after menses. How much mucus the vagina generates during a cycle varies; it usually increases about two weeks prior to menstruation. The discharge is a natural occurrence and helps maintain the health of the vagina by removing bacteria that may have entered through the vaginal opening. The characteristics of discharge — amount, color, even texture — also vary from woman to woman. The most unique feature of the vagina is its elasticity. It can accommodate a penis, the head of a baby or a menstrual cup.
Located just inside the opening to the vagina, the hymen — also known as the vaginal corona — is a thin membrane of tissue that partially covers the vaginal opening. In many young girls and women, it is difficult to identify the hymen or differentiate it from the vaginal opening tissue. And in other women, the corona has never been intact. The absence of a hymen is not necessarily a sign of lost virginity since it can be broken during many non-sexual activities, like sports. The corona tends to erode over time due to hormones, natural discharge, and vaginal sex. It is true the first few times a woman has intercourse, or any type of vaginal penetration, she may experience pain and even some bleeding. But it cannot be strictly attributed to the wearing away of the hymen; it is often due to insufficient lubrication.
The pubic bone is actually the joint where the two halves of the pelvis meet and is inside the vagina about 1 to 2 inches. Being able to identify the curve of the pubic bone from within the vagina is important for the proper placement of a menstrual cup. A menstrual cup needs to be positioned just beyond the pubic bone so it doesn’t expel.
The Grafenberg spot, more commonly known as the G-spot, is located on the front wall of the vagina (abdomen side) just past the pubic bone and has a somewhat spongy feel. It may be difficult to find if your fingers are short and even if that’s not the case, it may still be elusive to pinpoint. However, for many women it is an erotic zone that has the potential to contribute greatly to their sexual arousal.
The cervix is the narrow, neck-like passage that forms the lower end of the uterus. If you search for it with your finger, it feels a bit like the tip of your nose. Menstrual blood leaves the uterus through the cervix where it passes through the vagina. Semen travels through the cervix to enter the uterus. And in pregnant women, the cervix stretches or “dilates” to allow the fetus to pass through during vaginal delivery. The position of the cervix varies for every woman and its position can change during the menstrual cycle as well as throughout a woman’s life. Being able to determine the position of the cervix is important for the correct placement of a contraceptive diaphragm or menstrual cup.
The female reproductive system has two functions: The first is to produce egg cells, and the second is to protect and nourish the offspring until birth.
The uterus is a pear-shaped, muscular structure where a fetus develops during pregnancy. If an egg enters the uterus and is not fertilized by sperm, the inner lining of the uterus sheds and passes from the body during menstruation.
The fallopian tubes extend from either side of the uterus. It is through these tubes which an egg released during ovulation must travel to the uterus. If an egg is not fertilized, it passes through the cervix and vagina as part of the menstrual flow.
The ovaries are positioned on either side of the uterus. They produce and store eggs. The ovaries are approximately the size of a grape and have a lumpy appearance.
The pelvic floor, or pelvic diaphragm, is located underneath the pelvis and can be described as a sling of muscles and connective tissue spanning the pelvic opening. The pelvic floor provides support for the uterus and vagina as well as other organs in this area of the body including the bladder, intestines and rectum. The muscles and tissue hold these organs in place and allow them to function correctly.