Picture of the Vagina

Human Anatomy

photo of female genital anatomy
© 2015 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

The vagina is an elastic, muscular canal with a soft, flexible lining that provides lubrication and sensation. The vagina connects the uterus to the outside world. The vulva and labia form the entrance, and the cervix of the uterus protrudes into the vagina, forming the interior end.

The vagina receives the penis during sexual intercourse and also serves as a conduit for menstrual flow from the uterus. During childbirth, the baby passes through the vagina (birth canal).

The hymen is a thin membrane of tissue that surrounds and narrows the vaginal opening. It may be torn or ruptured by sexual activity or by exercise.

Vagina Conditions



Vagina Tests

  • Pelvic examination: Using a speculum, a doctor can examine the vulva, vagina, and cervix. The strength of the pelvic muscles can also be tested.
  • Papanicolaou smear (Pap smear): During a pelvic exam, the examiner swabs the cervix and vagina. Pap smears screen for cervical or vaginal cancer.
  • Bacterial culture: A swab of the cervix and vagina during a pelvic exam may be cultured in a lab. This can identify bacterial infections.
  • Colposcopy: A microscope is used during a pelvic exam to examine closely the vulva, vagina, and cervix. Colposcopy can help identify cancer or other problems.
  • Vaginal biopsy: In the rare case of a suspicious growth in the vagina, a small piece of tissue (biopsy) may be sent to check for cancer.

Vagina Treatments

  • Antimicrobials: Antifungal medications can treat yeast infections, and antibiotic drugs can treat bacterial infections. Antiviral medicines treat infections from the herpes virus.
  • Wart treatments: A variety of methods can be used to remove vaginal warts, including freezing, chemicals, burning with a laser, or cautery.
  • Vaginal pessary: A small plastic or rubber device is placed inside the vagina to keep in place prolapsing pelvic organs.
  • Kegel exercises: Exercising the pelvic muscles (as when stopping your urine stream) may improve or prevent vaginal prolapse and urinary incontinence.
  • Estrogen: The genital organs of women both inside and out respond to estrogen. Estrogen treatment may be useful to revitalize these structures in postmenopausal women.
  • Surgery: In rare cases of vaginal or cervical cancer, surgery is required to remove the tumor. Surgery may also treat vaginal prolapse.


WebMD Image Collection Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on June 28, 2020



CDC: "Trichomoniasis - CDC Fact Sheet" and "Bacterial Vaginosis - CDC Fact Sheet."

WebMD Medical Reference: "What's Normal, the First Time?"

WebMD Blog: "Can a Vagina Be Too Big?"

WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth: "Vaginal Prolapse."


© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.