The female urethra is a narrow membranous canal, about 4 cm. long, extending from the internal to the external urethral orifice. It is placed behind the symphysis pubis, imbedded in the anterior wall of the vagina, and its direction is obliquely downward and forward; it is slightly curved with the concavity directed forward. Its diameter when undilated is about 6 mm. It perforates the fasciæ of the urogenital diaphragm, and its external orifice is situated directly in front of the vaginal opening and about 2.5 cm. behind the glans clitoridis. The lining membrane is thrown into longitudinal folds, one of which, placed along the floor of the canal, is termed the urethral crest. Many small urethral glands open into the urethra.
The male urethra extends from the internal urethral orifice in the urinary bladder to the external urethral orifice at the end of the penis. It presents a double curve in the ordinary relaxed state of the penis. Its length varies from 17.5 to 20 cm.; and it is divided into three portions, the prostatic, membranous, and cavernous, the structure and relations of which are essentially different. Except during the passage of the urine or semen, the greater part of the urethral canal is a mere transverse cleft or slit, with its upper and under surfaces in contact; at the external orifice the slit is vertical, in the membranous portion irregular or stellate, and in the prostatic portion somewhat arched.