The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher

Page 12 of 76

Another cause of the largeness of the vessels is, that menses make their way through them, which often occasions pregnant women to continue menstruating: for though the womb be shut up, yet the passages in the neck of the womb through which these vessels pass, are open. In this case, we may further observe, that as soon as the pudenda are penetrated, there appear two little pits or holes which contain a secretion, which is expelled during copulation, and gives the woman great pleasure.


A description of the Fabric of the Womb, the preparing Vessels and Testicles in Women. Also of the Different and Ejaculatory Vessels.

The womb is joined to its neck in the lower part of the Hypogastrium where the hips are the widest and broadest, as they are greater and broader there than those of men, and it is placed between the bladder and the straight gut, which keeps it from swaying, and yet gives it freedom to stretch and dilate, and again to contract, as nature requires. Its shape is somewhat round and not unlike a gourd, growing smaller and more acute towards one end, being knit together by its own ligaments; its neck likewise is joined by its own substance and by certain membranes that fasten into the os sacrum and the share-bone. Its size varies much in different women, and the difference is especially great between those who have borne children and those who have had none. Its substance exceeds a thumb's breadth in thickness, and so far from decreasing conception, it rather increases; and in order to strengthen it it is interwoven with fibres which cross it from side to side, some of which are straight and some winding, and its proper vessels are veins, arteries and nerves. Amongst these there are two small veins which pass into the womb from the spermatic vessels, and two larger ones from the neck: the mouth of these veins pierces as far as the inward cavity.

The womb has two arteries on both sides of the spermatic vessels and the hypogastric, which accompany the veins; and besides these, there are several little nerves in the form of a net, which extend throughout it, from the bottom of the pudenda; their chief function is sensibility and pleasure, as they move in sympathy between the head and the womb.

It may be further noted that the womb is occasionally moveable by means of the two ligaments that hang on either side of it, and often rises and falls. The neck of the womb is extremely sensitive, so that if it be at any time out of order through over fatness, moisture or relaxation, it thereby becomes subject to barrenness. With pregnant women, a glutinous matter is often found at the entrance to the womb so as to facilitate the birth; for at the time of delivery, the mouth of the womb is opened as wide as the size of the child requires, and dilates equally from top to bottom.

The spermatic vessels in women, consist of two veins and two arteries, which differ from those of men only in size and the manner of their insertion; for the number of veins and arteries is the same as in men, the right vein issuing from the trunk of the hollow vein descending and besides them there are two arteries, which flow from the aorta.

These vessels are narrower and shorter in women than in men; but it must be noticed that they are more intertwined and contorted than in men, and shrink together by reason of their shortness that they may, by their looseness, be better stretched out when necessary: and these vessels in women are carried in an oblique direction through the lesser bowels and testicles but are divided into two branches half way. The larger goes to the stones and forms a winding body, and wonderfully inoculates the lesser branches where it disperses itself, and especially at the higher part of the bottom of the womb, for its nourishment, and that part of the courses may pass through the vessels; and seeing that women's testicles are situated near the womb, for that cause those vessels do not fall from the peritoneum, nor do they make so much passage as in men, as they do not extend to the share-bone.

The stones of woman, commonly called testicles, do not perform the same function as in men, for they are altogether different in position, size, temperature, substance, form and covering. They are situated in the hollow of the muscles of the loins, so that, by contracting greater heat, they may be more fruitful, their office being to contain the ova or eggs, one of which, being impregnated by the man's seed engenders the child. They are, however, different from those of the male in shape, because they are smaller and flatter at each end, and not so round or oval; the external superficies is also more unequal, and has the appearance of a number of knobs or kernels mixed together.

There is a difference, also, in the substance, as they are much softer and more pliable, and not nearly so compact. Their size and temperature are also different for they are much colder and smaller than in men, and their covering or enclosure is likewise quite different; for as men's are wrapped in several covers, because they are very pendulous and would be easily injured unless they were so protected by nature, so women's stones, being internal and thus less subject to being hurt, are covered by only one membrane, and are likewise half covered by the peritoneum.

The ejaculatory vessels are two small passages, one on either side, which do not differ in any respect from the spermatic veins in substance. They rise in one place from the bottom of the womb, and do not reach from their other extremity either to the stones or to any other part, but are shut up and impassable, and adhere to the womb as the colon does to the blind gut, and winding half way about; and though the testicles are not close to them and do not touch them, yet they are fastened to them by certain membranes which resemble the wing of a bat, through which certain veins and arteries passing from the end of the testicles may be said to have their passages going from the corners of the womb to the testicles, and these ligaments in women are the cremasters [3] in men, of which I shall speak more fully when I come to describe the male parts of generation.



Muscles by which the testicles are drawn up.


A Description of the Use and Action of the several Generative Parts in Women.

The external parts, commonly called the pudenda, are designed to cover the great orifice and to receive the man's penis or yard in the act of sexual intercourse, and to give passage to the child and to the urine. The use of the wings and knobs, like myrtle berries, is for the security of the internal parts, closing the orifice and neck of the bladder and by their swelling up, to cause titillation and pleasure in those parts, and also to obstruct the involuntary passage of the urine.

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