External orifice of the uterus

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External orifice of the uterus
Posterior half of uterus and upper part of vagina. (External orifice labeled at bottom.)
Uterus and right broad ligament, seen from behind. (External uterine orifice labeled at bottom.)
Latin ostium uteri, orificium externum uteri
Anatomical terminology

The external orifice of the uterus (or ostium of uterus, or external os) is a small, depressed, somewhat circular aperture on the rounded extremity of the vaginal portion of the cervix. Through this aperture, the cervical cavity communicates with that of the vagina.

The external orifice is bounded by two lips, an anterior and a posterior. The anterior is shorter and thicker, though it projects lower than the posterior because of the slope of the cervix. Normally, both lips are in contact with the posterior vaginal wall.

In the prepartum condition, or prior to pregnancy, the external orifice has a rounded shape when viewed through the vaginal canal (as through a speculum). Following parturition, the orifice takes on an appearance more like a transverse slit or is "H-shaped".

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This article incorporates text in the public domain from the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

External links[edit]

  • Anatomy figure: 43:05-21 at Human Anatomy Online, SUNY Downstate Medical Center - "The uterus, uterine tubes and ovary with associated structures."