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Vagina, Vulva, Vagina Vulva?

April 10, 2024 . dija

Vagina, vulva, vagina…vulva? It’s the same, isn’t it? Well, no, it’s actually not! But it is true that most people get caught up on the difference between vagina and vulva. Vice found in a recent survey that 44% of people didn’t know where their vagina was located. Crazy, right? This confusion likely comes from the lack of accurate language we use surrounding our genitals. The term vulva has been around for centuries and being derived from Latin, it literally means “the wrapper”. Well, this is exactly what a vulva is – a fabulous wrapper with an exciting goodie inside! By the end of this blog you will be a vulva expert. It’s important to know how to talk about your own body parts. For many reasons including health, empowerment and pleasure. We should all be taught from a young age how to talk about our vulvas and vaginas, what they like and what they don’t like.  

So, grab a mirror and let’s take a look together. Even if you’re well-versed in the ways of vulvas, it’s always fun to have a peak at your punani. Stick around, you might learn something ;) 

Exploring the vulva: 

When using the term vulva, we are referring to the external genitalia of the reproductive system. The vulva includes the labia majora, labia minora, clitoral hood, clitoris, vestibule, urethra, Bartholin’s glands and vaginal opening – each having their own function. Just like the rest of the human body, the vulva is a complex system of dynamic body parts. We know that it sounds like a bunch of jargon scientific terms, but don’t worry, let’s learn together and start from the beginning!  

Working from outside in; there’s the labia majora, or better known as the ‘outer lips’, they are there to protect your vaginal opening. They function as the safety guard of your internal genitals. Pubic hair grows on them to further help protect your vagina from the outside world.  

Within your outer lips, you find your inner lips (labia minora) which play a vital role in protecting the vaginal and urethral openings.  While they are often called the inner lips, this is not necessarily always reflective of how they look. The inner lips can also be bigger than the outer ones. Vulvas come in all shapes and sizes – all unique and beautiful. Did you know it’s common for one inner lip to be longer, thicker, or larger than the other? Just like the rest of the human body, perfect symmetry is pretty rare…Are you checking out yours right now?  

Now, let’s go a little further North to your clitoris, better known as the ‘clit’.  Located where the inner labia meet, it is sitting under the clitoral hood. The clitoral hood’s function is to protect the clitoris, which is one of the most nerve-dense parts of the human body, with around 10.000 nerve endings. These nerve endings are also the reason why it’s often referred to as the “pleasure button” making it a point of sexual stimulation and satisfaction. Although, just because it is the most sensitive part of the vulva and can be referred to as a button, don’t let anyone assume you can just press it and you’ll cum. This small visible part of the clitoris is just the tip of the iceberg. The full extent and shape of the clitoris was only discovered in 2005 (yeah, we know). Beneath the surface, the clit extends beneath the tissue and behind the vulva. The entire anatomy of the clitoris includes the clitoral glans, which is external, then internally you have the clitoral shaft, the crura (or legs), and the vestibular bulbs located on both sides of the vaginal entrance. The crura and bulbs are made of erectile tissue and form a V shape – V for vulva! All these hidden parts belong to the ‘the clitoris’, and all contribute to the wonderful orgasm.

Did you know that the clitoris gets erections too? When aroused blood swells to the gland just like the penis. Unlike the penis, the clitoris is the only organ in humans that is solely designed for pleasure – nice. 

On the outside, beneath the clit is the vestibule, which is located between the labia minora, and houses the openings of the vagina and urethra. This smooth skin leading from the clitoris to the vaginal opening plays a crucial role in maintaining vaginal health and facilitating sexual intercourse, toys or a finger… whatever you’re into. 

Now for some (potential) new information, have you heard of the Bartholin’s glands? You may not have heard of them…unless they’ve caused you a bit of trouble! The glands lie on either side of the vaginal opening and are essential for keeping the vulva and vagina well lubricated at all times. They won’t mean to cause you trouble, but it is important to be aware of them as the fluid they secrete can sometimes get blocked up and form a cyst. Usually, these cysts come and go on their own, but the more we are aware of the workings of our vulva’s, the more we can look after them.  

An honorable mention outside of this area is just a little further south. Continuing from the vaginal opening, outside of the vulva, you have the perineum. This is the delicate skin that can be damaged by “tearing” during childbirth. This skin joins the vulva to the anus. Hit the anus and you’ve gone too far! (or not).  

Now that you have explored all that the vulva has to offer, it’s time to take the plunge! 
 

Dive deeper into the vagina: 

So, now that you know more about the outside of your cooch, let’s shimmy on inside, where we find the vagina. Did you know that your vagina is actually a muscle too? It extends all the way from the vulva (outside) to the cervix of the uterus (located inside of you). This entry way is called the vaginal canal, and it is capable of many things. And we mean many things. It is the path where your menstrual blood flows through every month, but because it’s a muscle, it can also contract and expand wide enough for childbirth.  

Now let’s get into the fun of it all – the vagina also lets us experience pleasure during penetrative sex. The clitoris isn’t the only source of pleasure for us, no! In fact, our entire vulva is an erogenous zone. The walls of our vagina also have nerve endings that allow us to experience sexual pleasure and expand and become lubricated where you’re horn- *ahem* aroused, ensuring that the friction isn’t painful. The mucous members in your vagina, however, also keep the vagina protected and moist. This is also the reason why your vagina is known as a self-cleaning machine. 

The cervix is located at the very top of the vagina. It connects our uterus to the vagina and allows fluids to pass through – whether that be blood or arousal fluid. ‘Arousal fluid’…? Ummm by that, they just mean when you get wet. What’s even more interesting is the cervix will secrete different secretions based on what stage of the menstrual cycle you’re in! So, when you’re ovulating, the secretions produced are meant to help preserve and transport sperm. When a woman gives birth, the cervix also expands wide enough so that the child can pass through from the uterus and out into the world.  

So, are you an expert now? If not, that’s completely fine. Grab that mirror, get a good look, and let’s go on a journey of self-discovery together. Let’s pave the way for a future where prioritizing education on women’s health and anatomy reigns supreme. Here’s to breaking barriers and embracing the beauty of our vulvas and vaginas.  

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