Skip to content




The following information is to be used as a guide to and at the discretion of the end-user and should not replace a doctor’s opinion.


Good sexual and reproductive health, throughout all stages of life, is important for women’s general health and wellbeing. It is central to their ability to make choices and decisions about their lives, including when, or whether, to consider having children.

Sexual and reproductive health is not only about physical wellbeing – it includes the right to healthy and respectful relationships, healthcare services that are inclusive, safe and appropriate, access to accurate information, effective and affordable methods of contraception and access to timely support and services in relation to unplanned pregnancy.

Taking care of yourself and making healthy choices can help protect you and your loved ones. Protecting your reproductive system includes having control of your health, if and when, you become pregnant.


The female reproductive system consists of internal and external organs. It creates hormones and is responsible for fertility, menstruation and sexual activity.

The site has an excellent graphic of the female reproductive system. To see it, click here 

The function of your external genitals are to protect the internal parts from infection and allow sperm to enter your vagina. 

Your vulva is the collective name for all your external genitals. A lot of people mistakenly use the term “vagina” to describe all female reproductive parts. However, your vagina is its own structure located inside your body. 

The main parts of your vulva or external genitals are: 

  • Labia majora: Your labia majora (“large lips”) enclose and protect the other external reproductive organs. During puberty, hair growth occurs on the skin of the labia majora, which also contain sweat and oil-secreting glands. 
  • Labia minora: Your labia minora (“small lips”) can have a variety of sizes and shapes. They lie just inside your labia majora, and surround the opening to your vagina (the canal that joins the lower part of your uterus to the outside of your body) and urethra (the tube that carries urine from your bladder to the outside of your body). This skin is very delicate and can become easily irritated and swollen. 
  • Clitoris: Your two labia minora meet at your clitoris, a small, sensitive protrusion that’s comparable to a penis in men. Your clitoris is covered by a fold of skin called the prepuce and is very sensitive to stimulation. 
  • Vaginal opening: Your vaginal opening allows menstrual blood and babies to exit your body. Tampons, fingers, sex toys or penises can go inside your vagina through your vaginal opening. 
  • Hymen: Your hymen is a piece of tissue covering or surrounding part of your vaginal opening. It’s formed during development and present during birth. 
  • Opening to your urethra: The opening to your urethra is the hole you urinate from

Internal Parts:

  • Vagina: Your vagina is a muscular canal that joins the cervix (the lower part of uterus) to the outside of the body. It can widen to accommodate a baby during delivery and then shrink back to hold something narrow like a tampon. It’s lined with mucous membranes that help keep it moist.
  • Cervix: Your cervix is the lowest part of your uterus. A hole in the middle allows sperm to enter and menstrual blood to exit. Your cervix opens (dilates) to allow a baby to come out during a vaginal childbirth. Your cervix is what prevents things like tampons from getting lost inside your body.
  • Uterus: Your uterus is a hollow, pear-shaped organ that holds a foetus during pregnancy. Your uterus is divided into two parts: the cervix and the corpus. Your corpus is the larger part of your uterus that expands during pregnancy.
  • Ovaries: Ovaries are small, oval-shaped glands that are located on either side of your uterus. Your ovaries produce eggs and hormones.
  • Fallopian tubes: These are narrow tubes that are attached to the upper part of your uterus and serve as pathways for your egg (ovum) to travel from your ovaries to your uterus. Fertilisation of an egg by sperm normally occurs in the fallopian tubes. The fertilised egg then moves to the uterus, where it implants into your uterine lining.



The best way to take care of your sexual and reproductive health is to be more proactive, listen to your body, and not ignore even the most minor signs when something goes wrong because they can signal towards a more serious issue.

Get immediate treatment for STIs:

Over 40% of South African women have an active STI, while 10% have more than one. These include chlamydia, gonorrhoeae, and herpes, among others. The most important step that you can take to avoid getting infected by sexually transmitted infections is to be aware of what it is and how it is spread.

As with any disease, it is important to know how sexually transmitted infections work and be more aware of its risk factors to protect yourself from getting infected. If you feel like you have been exposed or are experiencing any symptoms, it is important to get tested to protect yourself and your partner. Some types of sexually transmitted infections do not show any symptoms, which is why regular testing and screening should be actively followed.


Understanding your reproductive health contributes to your overall health and empowerment. Open communication and education about these topics will empower you to make informed decisions about your body and life.