The vulva is the collective name for a female’s external genitals. It consists of a range of parts including the labia majora, labia minora, mons pubis, the external part of the clitoris, the opening of the vagina, and the urethra.
The vulva develops primarily while a fetus is still growing in its mother’s womb. Further development occurs during puberty, under the influence of estrogen.
The vulva is rich in nerve endings, which is why women experience sexual pleasure when parts of their vulva are stimulated during intercourse and manual stimulation. The vulva also serves as a protective gateway, minimizing the risk of infection to the uterus and female reproductive tract.
The word vulva comes from the Latin word volvere, meaning "to roll" or "wrapper." The vulva is also known as the pudendum.