In Depth: Organs and Inner Muscles
The pelvic region holds major organs under its layers of muscles. Some of the most important include the major digestive organs, the intestines.
The small intestine is the longest part of the digestive tract. It receives food from the stomach and initiates the food break-down process while absorbing the majority of its nutrients. The mucus this long hollow organ secretes breaks down proteins and carbohydrates and protects the small intestine from harmful stomach enzymes. Enzymes secreted by the liver and pancreas further aid digestion.
The small intestine is the longer of the two, so the large intestine earned its name because it is much wider in diameter.
The large intestine connects to the small intestine in the lower right section of the abdominal cavity. A muscular sphincter, the ileocecal, prevents food from traveling back up the small intestine.
The large intestine is filled with billions of bacteria that help turn food into solid feces and remove water and electrolytes. As food travels up and around, muscles in the large intestine break down the food before it descends down the colon, the last segment of the digestive tract. From there, it travels through the rectum and out of the anus.
Below the large intestine are the female reproductive organs. The largest organ is the uterus, a hollow, pear-shaped organ where fertilized eggs implant and develop into a fetus. The eggs are produced in the ovaries, two small organs on each side of the uterus. Tubes called the oviducts, or fallopian tubes, provide a pathway between the uterus and each ovary.
The uterus holds and nourishes a fetus before it is born. If an egg is not fertilized in time, the body sheds it and the uterine lining in a process known as menstruation.
Just below the uterus is the vagina, a muscular tube about three inches long that ends the birth canal. This is where a man’s penis enters the woman during sexual intercourse.
Below and in front of the uterus is the bladder. The bladder, also known as the urinary bladder, is an expandable, muscular sac that stores urine. When signaled, the bladder releases urine into the urethra, a tube that carries it out of the body. In women, this tube ends between the clitoris and the vagina.