THE FEMALE GENERATIVE ORGANS At the age of from thirteen to sixteen years, in temperate climates, changes occur in girls which indicate that a stage has been reached in the development of special organs, and that the girl has become capable of her peculiar functions. The main change is the occurrence of ft discharge from the genital organs, which, because of its recurring at regular intervals of bwenty-eight days, or one lunar mouth, has been called the "monthly illness." Before consider ing what the discharge means, it will be neces sary briefly to describe the organs concerned.
The External Genital Organs of the fe male consist of two lips or folds of skin sur rounding a passage—the vagina—which leads inwards. The external surface of these lips is covered with hair, and they are called the labia majora. Just above where these two folds meet in front, and immediately over the pubic bone (see p. 63), is a raised portion of skin covered with hair, raised because of a cushion of fat under it, and called the mons veneris. Within the labia majora, and pro tected by them, are two folds of delicate skin, uniting in front to form an arch and thinning away as they pass backwards along the side of the vaginal opening. These are the labia minora, or nymphs:. Just before the labia minora join in front to form the top of the arch, each splits into two divisimis, so that the very top of the arch is double, and in the tri angular space thus formed is a very sensitive part called the clitoris. Between the sides of the arch, formed by the labia minora, and bounded by the clitoris, forming the top of the arch in front, and the orifice of the vagina be hind, is a triangular space, called the vestibule. It is covered by smooth mucous membrane, and in the centre of it is the entrance of the urinary passage—the meatus uri nar i us—that leads to the bladder. This opening is slightly raised above the surface, lies exactly in the midge line, and about 1 inch farther back than the sensitive clitoris, and slightly farther in. The urinary passage passes for a short distance in a slightly curved direction, and then up to the bladder, and is barely 2 inches long. All these parts--mons veneris, labia majora and minora, clitoris, vestibule, urinary meatus, and vaginal orifice are included in the term vulvm or pu denda.
The vaginal orifice is partly closed behind by a fold of mucous membrane called the hy men. Sometimes the hymen completely closes the passage. Between the back wall of the vaginal passage and the place where the labia majora meet at an angle behind is a crescentic fold of mucous membrane, called the four chette, which is torn in labour. The part be tween where the labia majora meet behind and the opening of the bowel is called the peri nmum. The tear of the fourchette in labour sometimes passes back into the perinteurn, and may reach the bowel. This perimeal tear ought always to be stitched.
The vaginal passage passes inwards, back wards, and upwards, and ends blindly. Into the upper wall of the blind extremity projects the mouth of the womb, the front wall of the passage passing up in front of the lips of the womb and the back wall behind the lips. The front wall of the passage is thus slightly shorter than the back wall, being 2 inches, while the back wall is 3i. In front of the front wall, and between it and the pubic bone, is the bladder, and behind the back wall is the lower end of the bowel. • A finger passed into the vagina will thus come into contact at its inner blind end with the lips of the womb.
nected with this ligament is the ovary, one on each side of the body.
The female generative organs situated within the body are the womb or uterus and certain it4pendages, the ovaries, and tubes which lead from them to the womb. The relation of these parts is shown in Fig. 206.
The Womb or Uterus is situated deep in the cavity of the pelvis (p. 63) between the bladder, which lies in front of it, and the end of the '1 large bowel, which lies behind it. It is pear shaped, and is on an average 3 inches long, 2 broad, and 1 thick. It is composed mainly of muscular fibre of the involuntary kind 113). In its centre is a narrow cavity (the
walls being very thick) running up towards the broad end of the pear-shaped organ, and opening at the narrow end at what is called the mouth of the womb. The inner surface next the cavity is lined with mucous membrane (p. 195), in which there are glands. The organ is richly supplied with blood-vessels and nerves. By means of a transverse slit, the lips of which are, however, in the virgin state closely applied to one another, the mouth opens into the pas sage of the vagina, which communicates with the outside and is about 3 inches long. The womb is kept in position by ligamentous struc tures, which are lax enough to admit of a moderate degree of movement. Now the womb is flattened on its front and back walls, and if a pear be imagined as pressed somewhat flat in this direction it will be easily understood that the appearance of a corner at each side of the broad end will be produced. The womb has such a corner at each side of its upper end, and from each of these corners a tube pusses off, the fallopian tubes„, Fallopian tube has the ap pearance of a thick cord 3 or 4 inches It consists mainly of muscular tissue like that of the womb, and in the centre of its whole length runs a canal, the inner wall of the tube being lined by a membrane also like that of the womb, but having no glands embedded in it. At the end next the womb the canal will admit only an ordinary bristle, but at its other end it is wider. The end distant from the womb opens into the cavity of the belly, is trumpet-shaped, and provided with fine finger-like projections or fringes. (See Fig. 206, fr.) The tube of each side is further connected with the womb by a broad baud of tissue, tf, ligament. Con The Ovaries are flattened oval bodies, each about 1 inch long, inch wide, and nearly inch thick. They are attached to the womb by means of the broad ligament referred to, and to one part of the ovary the fringe of the fallopian tube of its own aide is connected. It is in the ovaries that the ova are produced, the female element in the production of new beings. The ovaries are supplied with many nerves and blood -vessels. Each ovary contains a multi tude of ova or eggs in different stages of growth. In the ovaries of a female child at birth they are already visible, and it has been estimated that no less than 70,000 may be present in the two. Each ovum or egg is about the of an inch in size. Fig. '207 shows a section or slice of an ovary, the little round bodies being the ova, those near the surfaces (5) being un developed, those deeper (s, 7, &c.) being more mature. In process of growth the ova pass more deeply into the substance of the ovary. Instead of lying in groups, one becomes sepa rated from others by growth of substance be tween them. As one becomes more mature it becomes surrounded by an envelope or capsule, which, by and by, forms a sort of bag round it. The ovum becomes attached to one part of the wall of the sac, and fluid is produced separat ing the rest of the wall from it, and the fluid increases till the egg is, as it were, connected to the inner wall of a minute bladder. (See Fig. 207, s and 9.) As it grows, the sac with its ovum approaches near the surface of the ovary till it bulges from the surface. The continued increase of fluid finally causes the little bag to burst, and the ovum is discharged. The ovary at this time is very freely supplied with blood. The discharged ovum would readily drop into the cavity of the belly but for the fact that at this time the fringed end of the fallopian tube is applied to the ovary, and the ovum is received into the canal of the tube, and passes down the canal till it reaches the womb.
Thus during the early years of a girl's life the ovary is developing, and the ova it contains are maturing. It is not till the twelfth year or upwards that the first ovum becomes ripe and is discharged, and when that period is reached the girl has arrived at the age of puberty, that is, the age when she is capable of conceiving.