There are many false myths that exist around the vagina. Nobody is willing to talk out loud about their lady parts. And as a result, these myths are further perpetuated and followed. What we all might already know is that the vagina is vital for human reproduction and plays a major role in sexual satisfaction. But there is so much more to it than many of us realize. For example, did you know that the word “vagina” derives from the Latin word for “sheath” or “scabbard”?
Here, we take a look at eight things you probably should know about your vagina:
1. The “vagina” is not what you think it is
When talking about the vagina, if you think you’re referring to a woman’s collective private parts, you’d be wrong. When it comes to reproductive organs, it’s crucial to know the correct terminology, and not merely use euphemisms. The word vagina actually refers to a specific part of the female reproductive system. It is the muscular canal which connects the cervix to the external female genitalia (which includes the labia and clitoris).
2. The vagina cleans itself
The vagina is like a self-cleaning oven: it contains a highly specialized army of bacteria which battles to keep the vaginal pH at an optimal level. On top of that, there are glands in the vagina that secrete fluid, or “discharge” to keep itself clean. And that is exactly why one should avoid using scented soaps and other perfumed products to clean vaginas. Steaming and douching are also a big no-no. Remember, it’s your vagina, not a pina colada.
3. You can’t lose a tampon in there
Rest assured. It is impossible to get a tampon lost in your vagina despite what horror stories you might have heard. The opening at the top of the vagina is simply too small for a tampon to escape through. Additionally, at the deep end of your vagina is the cervix, which remains closed except during the time of childbirth. So, you can’t really get anything accidentally lost in there. It is possible, however, that a tampon gets stuck. In that case, you need to see your doctor, to get it removed.
4. Vaginas are supposed to have a smell
Remember those specialized army of bacteria that work ‘round the clock to keep your vaginal pH healthy and balanced? Well, like any other bacteria, these too have their own distinct smell. And therefore, it is normal for vaginas to have a particular smell. It’s nothing that needs to be covered up by scented body washes or perfumes. But then of course, if you’re noticing a new scent that’s odd or pungent, please see a doctor for certain times it could be a sign of infection.
5. And what you eat affects its scent
Did you know that your diet controls how your lady parts smell? For example, there is a widespread belief that consuming pineapple gives your vagina a sweeter scent. Other foods believed to alter vaginal odour include garlic and onion, as well as cheese. Any unwelcome odour could be due to unhealthy eating habits. So, the next time you’re worried that scrapping that scented soap might leave you smelling less than fresh down there, perhaps watch out for what you are eating.
6. Getting older can affect the vagina
As you grow older, the amount of hormones produced by the body keeps changing. After years of having periods and maybe children, the ovaries stop producing eggs and menstruation stops. The levels of oestrogen produced, which also change with age, affects the vagina and vulva. These tissues, which were once kept moist with mucus, can become dry, and in turn cause pain during sex because of a lack of lubrication.
A popular myth (borne out of poor research no doubt) is that having sex will help to keep things in working order. But here’s the thing: the micro-trauma to the vaginal tissues can leave them vulnerable to infection. While this might sound depressing, it’s something that can be easily solved by getting help from a doctor.
7. Cherries don’t pop. And can we please stop with that comparison? Vaginas are nothing like cherries
Most people with vaginas are born with a hymen. It is a thin piece of skin that stretches across a part of the vaginal opening. But again, one needs to remember that it’s a piece of skin, not a bubble gum: at no point in life will it ‘pop.’ Contrary to popular belief, the hymen can often tear before penetrative sex. From rigorous sports such as riding a bike, to normal activities such as putting in a tampon, anything can cause this skin to rupture. It’s therefore high time that we as a society stop judging a woman’s character based on this tiny skin-shield.
8. Vaginas get deeper when we’re turned on. And they also change colour
Did you know that the upper portion of the vagina can elongate? Normally, the vagina measures somewhere between 3 to 6 inches long, and 1 to 2.5 inches wide. But after arousal, the vagina pushes the cervix and uterus slightly deeper into the body to make room for penetration. It’s like when sex on the mind, the vagina quite literally opens its doors. At the same time, blood rushes to your vulva and vagina when you’re horny. This can make the colour of the lady parts appear darker. But not to worry, the colour change is temporary!
Research claims that 41 percent of women have never even checked their vagina, yet almost half of women surveyed were concerned about their intimate health. Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to vaginas. How else after all, can one appreciate the body in all its glory.
Image Credit: Timothy Meinberg
Dyuti Gupta is an intern with SheThePeople.TV.