Skip main navigation

£199.99 £139.99 for one year of Unlimited learning. Offer ends on 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply

Find out more

Female urethra and urethral sphincter

Explore the female urethra & urethral sphincter and find out why, compared to males, females are more at risk of problems with urinary continence.
© Association for Continence Advice. CC BY-NC 4.0

The female urethra has only one function which is micturition of urine.

The female urethra has a length of 4-6cm, and is a straight tube which angles slightly backwards towards the anus. It is important to understand this when undertaking catheterisation.

Female urethra and urethral sphincters

Figure 2.4: Female bladder showing the position the ureters enter the bladder, the trigone and the sphincters.

In females there is only one actual bladder neck sphincter, the external sphincter, comprising striated/skeletal muscle under the voluntary control of the somatic nervous system.

This muscle can be exercised and will strengthen with pelvic floor exercises.

Compared to males, females are more at risk of problems with their urinary continence, as they have a short urethra and only one bladder neck sphincter.

© Association for Continence Advice. CC BY-NC 4.0
This article is from the free online

Understanding Continence Promotion: Effective Management of Bladder and Bowel Dysfunction in Adults

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education