The vagina has spend the better part of humanity shrouded in mystery. Even as sex education and anatomy lessons improve, many teens grow into adults knowing very little about their genitalia. The female anatomy is fascinating, and as always, the better educated you are about it, the better! After perusing through the internets, I compiled a list of the top 10 things you didn’t know about your vagina. Check it out!
1. ‘Vagina’ refers to inside your body, while ‘vulva’ refers to the skin part, and everything outside the body. Many people are unaware of the distinction between the two!
2. Your vagina is more acidic than the rest of your body, which helps it kill off bad bacteria. In contrast, semen is alkaline, which neutralizes the acidity and gives sperm a better chance of surviving. Your vagina actually has the same pH level as a glass of wine! The normal vaginal pH for vaginas is 3.8 to 4.5. Most wines’ pH fall around 3.0 or 4.0; about 3.0 to 3.4 is desirable for white wines, while about 3.3 to 3.6 is best for reds.
3. Your vaginal entrance has 2 pea sized glands, called the Bartholin’s glands, on either side of the opening that secretes a tiny amount of fluid, just before you orgasm. This is in addition to the lubrication that happens when you’re aroused, which comes from deeper inside the vagina. Bartholin’s glands are not to be confused with the Skene’s glands that are homologous with the prostate gland in males, and are thought to be the source of female ejaculation.
4. The vagina is the most stretchy part of the body. Vaginas can vary substantially in size and shape during sexual arousal. This is mainly due to tenting, which causes expansion of the upper two-thirds of the vagina. The upward tenting also is thought to facilitate the movement of sperm up into the cervix.
5. It’s impossible to lose anything in your vagina. On average, the vaginal canal is three to six inches long. If you need a visual aid, that’s roughly the length of your hand. The very top of the vagina is the cervix, an opening only big enough for microscopic sperm to get through. The vagina is a fixed space that doesn’t continue up, so you can’t permanently lose something in there. But your vaginal canal can change shape in certain situations, like during sex or childbirth.
6. Your clitoris has twice as many nerve endings as the tip of his penis. “With between 6,000 and 8,000, it’s hardly surprising that it’s where orgasms originate,” explains Tracey Cox. Because the clitoris has many more sensory nerve endings than the penis, stimulation can result in a cascade of immense nerve stimuli. (This may be why direct clitoral stimulation can be painful for some women.) Clitoral orgasm is often far more intense than male orgasm.
7. Your vagina changes color (like a mood ring!). “During sexual arousal or pregnancy, blood flow to the genitals changes and that can result in a color change,” usually making it a deeper, darker color, says Michael Krychman, M.D., gynecologist and executive director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health. Then there’s aging and menopause to consider—Dr. Krychman says the loss of estrogen during this stage of a woman’s life can also cause the vagina to change color, usually a lighter or more dull shade than before.
8. Your vagina has super powers and is better than most other parts of the body at healing itself, as the cells replenish very quickly. Rips and tears can heal within 48 hours.
9. The clitoris has no other purpose than for sexual pleasure. The clitoris is just like an iceberg, in that you can only see the tip. Beneath the visible pink button, lies a wishbone-shaped structure comprising a shaft, which extends about an inch up toward the pubic bone, and two 3 inch arms called crura that reach down and back toward the pelvic bone in an inverted V shape. In fact, providing its owner with sexual pleasure is the organ’s only known function, and the clitoris is the only organ in either sex with pleasure as its sole function. It has nothing to do with getting pregnant, with menstruation, or with urination.
10. Not everyone is born with a hymen. The majority of women are born with a hymen, and they can have varying shapes and sizes. The hymen usually has one opening, but occasionally will have two or more. But if you don’t have one, you’d probably never know it, as it doesn’t have any impact on your sex life. More noticeable is a hymen that is not easily penetrated or torn — that can result in painful sex or even difficulty getting a penis into your vagina.
Learn anything new? Comment below!
Artwork by the incredible Priscila Barbosa.