Paper - Development of the vagina in the human fetus

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I have decided to take early retirement in September 2020. During the many years online I have received wonderful feedback from many readers, researchers and students interested in human embryology. I especially thank my research collaborators and contributors to the site. The good news is Embryology will remain online and I will continue my association with UNSW Australia. I look forward to updating and including the many exciting new discoveries in Embryology!

Koff A. Development of the vagina in the human fetus. (1933) Contrib. Embryol., Carnegie Inst. Wash. Publ. 443, 24: 59-60.

Online Editor Note 
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This historic 1933 paper by Koff is an early description of female vagina development.

See also Bulmer D. The development of the human vagina. (1957) J. Anat. 91: 490-509.
Modern Notes: Vagina Development | Genital System Development | Fetal Development

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Historic Embryology - Genital 
General: 1901 Urinogenital Tract | 1902 The Uro-Genital System | 1904 Ovary and Testis | 1912 Urinogenital Organ Development | 1914 External Genitalia | 1921 Urogenital Development | 1921 External Genital | 1942 Sex Cords | 1953 Germ Cells | Historic Embryology Papers | Historic Disclaimer
Female: 1904 Ovary and Testis | 1904 Hymen | 1912 Urinogenital Organ Development | 1914 External Genitalia | 1914 Female | 1921 External Genital | 1927 Female Foetus 15 cm | 1927 Vagina | 1932 Postnatal Ovary
Male: 1887-88 Testis | 1904 Ovary and Testis | 1904 Leydig Cells | 1906 Testis vascular | 1909 Prostate | 1912 Prostate | 1914 External Genitalia | 1915 Cowper’s and Bartholin’s Glands | 1920 Wolffian tubules | 1935 Prepuce | 1935 Wolffian Duct | 1942 Sex Cords | 1943 Testes Descent | Historic Embryology Papers | Historic Disclaimer

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Pages where the terms "Historic" (textbooks, papers, people, recommendations) appear on this site, and sections within pages where this disclaimer appears, indicate that the content and scientific understanding are specific to the time of publication. This means that while some scientific descriptions are still accurate, the terminology and interpretation of the developmental mechanisms reflect the understanding at the time of original publication and those of the preceding periods, these terms, interpretations and recommendations may not reflect our current scientific understanding.     (More? Embryology History | Historic Embryology Papers)

Development of the Vagina in the Human Fetus


Lack of uniformity of opinions concerning the development of the vagina prompted an investigation into the successive stages of the vagina's developmental events. Observations on the material studied indicated:

  1. that the upper part of the vagina develops from the mullerian ducts:
  2. the lower part of the vagina is formed from the urogenital sinus in an area fromerly occupied by the mullerian tubercle; it is here that the hymen forms;
  3. the hymen is formed passively by the invagination of the posterior wall of the sinus attributed to expansion of the vagina's lower end and;
  4. formation of the vagina occurs without the participation of the wolffian ducts which involute at 50mm and usually rapidly and entirely disappear from the genital cord.

These observations suggest that a caudocranial process occurs in which epithelial cells in the center of the solid cord undergo involution, desquamate and are discharged in part of the hymenal opening thus forming the vaginal canal.

Koff AK. (1933). Development of the vagina in the human fetus. Contrib Embryol , 24, 59-91. PMID: 12332362

Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2020, September 19) Embryology Paper - Development of the vagina in the human fetus. Retrieved from

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