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The Pars Intermedia: An Anatomic Basis for a Coordinated Vascular Response to Female Genital Arousal


Cheryl Shih, MD, Department of Urology, University of Washington School of Medicine, 1959 NE Pacific St, Box 356510, Seattle, WA 98195, USA. Tel: 206-543-3640; Fax: 206-543-3272; E-mail:


Introduction.  The pars intermedia is an area of the vulva that has been inconsistently described in the literature.

Aim.  We conducted anatomic studies to better describe the tissues and vascular structures of the pars intermedia and proposed a functional rationale of the pars intermedia in the female sexual response.

Methods.  Nine cadaveric vulvectomy specimens were used. Each was serially sectioned and stained with hematoxylin and eosin and Masson's trichrome.

Main Outcome Measures.  Histologic ultrastructural description of the pars intermedia.

Results.  The pars intermedia contains veins traveling longitudinally in the angle of the clitoris, supported by collagen-rich stromal tissues. These veins drain the different vascular compartments of the vulva, including the clitoris, the bulbs, and labia minora; also, the interconnecting veins link the different vascular compartments. The pars intermedia is not composed of erectile tissue, distinguishing it from the erectile tissues of the corpora cavernosa of the clitoris as well as the corpus spongiosum of the clitoral (vestibular) bulbs.

Conclusions.  The venous communications of the pars intermedia, linking the erectile tissues with the other vascular compartments of the vulva, appear to provide the anatomic basis for a coordinated vascular response during female sexual arousal.