Embryology and anatomy of the vulva: the female orgasm and women's sexual health

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2011 Jan;154(1):3-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2010.08.009. Epub 2010 Sep 15.


Sexual health is vital to overall well-being. Orgasm is a normal psycho-physiological function of human beings and every woman has the right to feel sexual pleasure. The anatomy of the vulva and of the female erectile organs (trigger of orgasm) is described in human anatomy textbooks. Female sexual physiology was first described in Dickinson's textbook in 1949 and subsequently by Masters and Johnson in 1966. During women's sexual response, changes occur in the congestive structures that are essential to the understanding of women's sexual response and specifically of their orgasm. Female and male external genital organs arise from the same embryologic structures, i.e. phallus, urogenital folds, urogenital sinus and labioscrotal swellings. The vulva is formed by the labia majora and vestibule, with its erectile apparatus: clitoris (glans, body, crura), labia minora, vestibular bulbs and corpus spongiosum. Grafenberg, in 1950, discovered no "G-spot" and did not report an orgasm of the intraurethral glands. The hypothetical area named "G-spot" should not be defined with Grafenberg's name. The female orgasm should be a normal phase of the sexual response cycle, which is possible to achieve by all healthy women with effective sexual stimulation. Knowledge of the embryology, anatomy and physiology of the female erectile organs are important in the field of women's sexual health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clitoris / anatomy & histology
  • Clitoris / embryology
  • Female
  • Genitalia, Female / anatomy & histology
  • Genitalia, Female / embryology
  • Humans
  • Orgasm / physiology*
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology
  • Urethra / anatomy & histology
  • Urethra / embryology
  • Vagina / anatomy & histology
  • Vagina / physiology
  • Vulva / anatomy & histology*
  • Vulva / embryology
  • Women's Health