Reproductive Organ: Vagina
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Reproductive Organ: Vagina

Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi profile Authored by Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi on 9 Dec 2014 - 16:31.

Human Vagina is a canal that begins from the vaginal orifice in the vulva below the urethral orifice and proceeds upwards to encircle the lower end of the cervix of the uterus.

The vagina serves as an exit for the menstrual, passage for the insertion of penis during sexual intercourse, reception of the vital fluid called semen containing the life giving sperm cells and acts as a birth canal during pregnancies for the delivery of the baby and the placenta during labor.

The vagina also serves the purpose of some internal examinations conducted by doctors either through inserting fingers or an instrument in the vagina, to examine the interior and assess abnormalities.

It also serves as a medium through which some major surgical procedures are performed like vaginal hysterectomies, forceps delivery with the help of an instrument called forceps during difficult labor, applying some intrauterine contraceptive devices.

Structure:The muscular canal extends from the midpoint of the cervix to its opening located between the rectum and urethra. The mucous membrane lining the vagina and the musculature are in continuation with the uterus. The cell lining of the vagina thickens and produces lubricating substances in response to estrogen. These secretions help in sexual intercourse by maintaining the moisture in the vagina.

The walls of vagina have enormous capacity to get distended depending on the circumstances warranting such distensions like delivery and instrumental examinations. However, in normal conditions the vaginal walls measure 7.5 cms anteriorly (meaning front wall) and 9 cms posteriorly (meaning backwards).In other wards the vagina proceeds from the exterior in a slanting position whose upper end has to receive the lower part of the uterus in an oblique position.Therefore the posterior wall is slightly longer than the anterior wall.

The vagina has contact with the empty bladder on the anterior and superior (upper) surface. The inferior end (lower end) adheres to the back urethral wall and opens very close to the inner lips of the vulva called the labia minora.

The lining of vagina has a number of transverse ridges or folds closely resembling a corrugated rubber tubing cut linearly.The vagina receives its blood from the uterine arteries and sometimes through the internal iliac artery branches. Venous blood is sent through the internal iliac veins. The lymphatic system for the vagina is through the internal iliac and superficial inguinal lymph nodes.

Mucous secretions from the cervix keep the vagina moist. Its own secretions from vaginal epithelial cells containing glycogen and water also help keeping the vagina moist. During sexual stimulation the vagina needs more moisture to facilitate easy and painless act. This is achieved through the dense vascular network of the vagina.

The vaginal walls gradually lose their texture as menopause sets in and become very thin. Blood supply to the vagina is decreased and the supply of the estrogen is diminished. Withdrawals of estrogen can be reversed by administering exogenous estrogen through oral pills or even creams. Vaginal moisturizers are available to keep the vagina moist when needed.

The vagina can become a host to different infectious organisms such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viral agents. Most of these are sexually transmitted diseases. Treatment may vary depending on the causative agent. Of biological importance is a condition often encountered called Frigidity. This problem seen in some women is the root cause for frustration during sexual intercourse because the frigid vagina just doesn't allow the penis to enter. The female partner initially offers several reasons for her refusal for intercourse. Finally it leads to a doctor or a sexologist and might end up in separation if it cannot be cured.

Some of the women face a problem of pain during sexual intercourse. This problem is called dysperunia. This condition can be tackled trough gynecological consultations.

Causes of Vaginal Diseases: The vagina is a store house for a variety of sexually transmitted diseases including the most dreaded AIDS.The commonest conditions through sexual transmission are gonorrhea, syphilis, yaws and warts. Careless and unprotected sexual indulgence leads to AIDS.The vagina bears the brunt of flushing menstrual flow month after month (except during pregnancies) for well over 30 years from menarche to menopause. In some the flow is very heavy and prolonged. In some is scanty.

In the fortunate few it is normal and uneventful. A thin membrane covers the vaginal opening in the vulva and its presence accounts for the virginity of the owner. This membrane covering the vaginal orifice is called Hymen.

Conditions affecting Vagina: There are so many conditions which can affect the vagina that an article of this size cannot elaborate all. It suffices to mention that the vagina is prone to any infection through bacteria, fungus and virus.Luckily cancer of the vagina is rare though it is not uncommon. Most of the conditions are caused by virus and bacteria and are treated by antibiotics.

Interesting Facts about Vagina:

Vagina is just another part of a female body, but least spoken about in the open. The three basic facts about vagina, every woman knows is: a) It need not be douched, b) vaginal discharge is common to every woman c), nothing can get lost in the vagina.
There are a few mind-boggling facts about vagina, every woman must get acquainted with. They are:
1. Vagina means “sheath for a sword”, the word comes from the Latin roots.
2. The clitoris has 8,000 nerve endings in contrast to the penis which has 4,000, which makes it the most sensitive part of a woman’s erogenous zone. It affects over 15,000 nerve endings leading to powerful sensations across pelvic area of a woman.
3. Vagina is lined with ringed muscular ridges to enable expansion during intercourse or childbirth. It is known to expand up to 200 percent during these events.
4. Disney’s “The Story of Menstruation,” was the first movie to use the word ‘vagina’ which was released in 1946. 
5. The sharks’ livers and the women’s vagina have a common thing which is a substance called squalene. This is used as a natural vaginal lubricant. 
6. Vaginas are so strong that they can clamp down on penis which is known as penis captivus. It is a rare occurrence during intercourse when the vaginal muscles clamp down the penis making it almost impossible for the penis to withdraw from the vagina.
7. Nothing can be lost in the vagina because the uterus opening is tiny for anything to go through it except during birth. The uterus measurements change after puberty, to prepare it for child birth. After puberty, its normal length is about 7.6 cm, and width is 4.5 cm, with a normal thickness of 3.0 cm. Before puberty, the uterus is about 3.5 centimeters (cm) in length with an average thickness of 1 cm. 
8. Vaginas have the capability to keep itself clean with the help of discharge or natural secretions. It is advised that perfumed soaps, gels, and antiseptics, must be avoided to wash the vagina, as this can affect the healthy balance of bacteria and pH levels, and cause irritation. 


*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.