Everyone’s genitals are different and there is no such thing as normal.
Do all our genitals look the same?
Everyone’s genitals are different, just like our faces are all different.
Labia can vary in colour, from light pink to dark brown. One outer lip may be bigger than the other or the inner lips may hang below the outer lips.
Penises too come in all shapes and sizes. This is normal.
Vulva is the correct name for female genitalia that is outside the body. Females can see their own external organs if they place a mirror below their vulva. The vulva includes:
- the mons pubis which is a mound of fat and skin which covers the pubic bone
- the labia majora or outer lips protect the other external genitals
- the labia minora (the inner lips) have a hood like cover at the top to protect the clitoris
- the perineum is the smooth skin between the labia and the anus
- the clitoris has a lot of nerve endings. It's only function is sexual pleasure.
Most of a woman's reproductive organs are internal. They include:
- the vagina. The opening of the vagina has muscles that then open up to a stretchy tube. The length of the vagina differs between women.
- the cervix sits at the top of the vagina. The cervix is the opening to the uterus
- the uterus is sometimes called a womb. If a woman is pregnant, the uterus is where the baby will grow.
- fallopian tubes carry the eggs from the ovary to the uterus.
- the ovaries are where the eggs (ova) are stored. Females are born with around 400,000 eggs in their ovaries.
Testicles or testes are where sperm is made. It is normal for one testicle to hang lower than the other. The testicles sit within the scrotum - a sack which is just behind the penis.
The scrotum hangs on the outside of the body because sperm need to be kept cooler than internal body temperature.
The penis carries pee (urine) and semen to the outside of the body. The penis has two main parts - a head (glans) and a shaft.
The urethra is the tube that passes both urine and semen out of the body.
Intersex is an umbrella term that describes up to 40 different natural variations. Intersex describes a range of natural variations in the human body - specifically, the innate variations in someone's sex characteristics (VSC). Sex characteristics can include everything from hormones and chromosomes to internal and external reproductive anatomy. For some people the differences are visible and for others they are not
Around 1 in 2000 children/tamariki are born intersex. Sometimes it doesn’t become apparent until puberty/pūhuruhurutanga and sometimes even later when people try and are unable to have a baby.
Find out more on Intersex Aotearoa's website.
Download Intersex Aotearoa's 'Your Child is a Taonga' resource (support guide for parents and whānau of intersex rangatahi) (PDF, 3 MB).
Is it important to use the right names for genitals?
There are many different names for female and male genitalia.
Using the anatomical names, or technical names, for body parts from an early age can help young people overcome embarrassment, making them sound normal.
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