The uterus or womb is a major female reproductive organ in which babies grow and develop during pregnancy. At one end, the cervix opens into the vagina, while the other end is connected to one or both fallopian tubes.
The fallopian tubes, named after Gabriel Fallopius, also known as oviducts, uterine tubes and salpinges (singular salpinx) are two very fine tubes, leading from the ovaries into the uterus.
Ovaries are oval-shaped ovum-producing reproductive organs located on the side wall of the pelvis. In pre-menopausal women, ovaries secrete the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone.
The vagina is the muscular tube running from the outside to the uterus. At the top of the vagina, at the entrance to the uterus, lies the cervix. When a hysterectomy is performed, the cervix may or may not be removed. The vagina is then stitched closed.
The bladder is the organ that stores the urine before it is expelled to the outside during the process of urination. When it descends into the pelvis as part of vaginal prolapse, bulging into the front wall of the vagina, it is known as a cystocele.
The urethra is the tube that runs from the bladder to the outside, carrying urine. In women the urethra is about 1.5–2 inches (4–5 cm) long and exits the body between the clitoris and the vagina.
The rectum is the lower part of the large intestine or large bowel. It extends from the colon to the anus, and acts as a reservoir for the faeces (stools) before the bowels are opened.
The anal sphincter is the part of the muscle around the anal canal that is involved with continence. It is sometimes damaged during childbirth and this damage is one of the causes of incontinence.
The perineal body is a pyramidal fibromuscular mass in the middle line at the junction between the vagina and anus. The perineal body is essential for the integrity of the pelvic floor in females. Its damage during childbirth leads to a widening of the vaginal entrance thus predisposing a woman to prolapse.
The pelvic floor or pelvic diaphragm is a sheet of muscles that support pelvic organs, e.g. the bladder, bowels and uterus. It is pierced by the rectum, the vagina and the urethra. Damage to the pelvic floor, as may occur during childbirth, can lead to the development of incontinence and/or prolapse.