The internal iliac artery, also called the hypogastric artery, is the dominant artery in the pelvic area. It is usually shorter in length than the external iliac artery. The main function of this artery is to supply blood to the pelvic region, hips, thighs, and the reproductive organs.
It originates from the point where the common iliac artery divides itself, and moving downward, it separates into anterior and posterior divisions.
The artery lies at the back of the ureter (the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the urinary bladder) and in front of the internal iliac vein. The obturator nerve is positioned below it, while the external iliac vein is medial to it (closer than the internal branch to the midline of the body). The precise organization of the branches of this artery varies from one person to another.
In women, the artery that supplies blood to the uterus is usually a branch of the internal iliac. In fetuses, a continuation of the internal iliac, called the umbilical artery, is part of the umbilical cord.