Ok, we admit that your vagina probably won’t go missing anytime soon, but we’re also willing to be that you couldn’t pick your own vagina out of a line-up. If, you know, there were police lineups of vaginas.
The fact that you’ll never have to identify your own parts isn’t the point. The point is that too many women not only couldn’t make that ID, they also don’t know much about their most private parts.
The Twitterverse recently had some fun with a man who tried to teach a female gynecologist that she’d misused the term “vulva” — “The correct word is vagina,” he tweeted. If you missed it, do yourself a favor and find it.
Better yet, find the book or documentary “Womanhood” by Laura Dodsworth, that seeks to shed light in what has for too long been considered a nether region proper folks dare not discuss.
Even better than that, get up close and personal with your own vagina. You can wax poetic about the shape, size or color of your eyes, nose, breasts and eyebrows. Can you do the same for your vagina?
It’s a sad fact that too many women don’t know much more than the mansplainer, and it’s high time we gave up terms like “front butt,” “pee-hole, “poke-hole,” “down there,” or “bearded clam” to name a few.
Getting a good look at your crotch isn’t easy. You need a decent-sized hand mirror, a bit of flexibility and a healthy dose of curiosity.
Two-dimensional drawings are helpful in labeling the parts and showing where they are, but they don’t really give you a great look at the reality of what’s down there. Unless you saw Ms. Dodsworth’s work, you may not be prepared for hairy, wrinkly folds of skin that await you. If it’s been a while – a few pounds or children – since you sneaked a peek you may find your vulva has changed a bit.
Unfortunately, many of us use the porn industry or photoshopped photography to set the baseline for what a vulva should look like. Vulvas are like snowflakes, none is exactly like another. There is no “normal.” Despite that, nearly half of the respondents to a recent Refinery29 survey said they had concerns about how their vulvas look.
- 64 percent were concerned about size;
- 60 percent were concerned about shape; and
- 30 percent were worried about color.
The truth is, despite a spike in cosmetic surgery and bleaching to achieve “normal”, there’s rarely a medical need to trim, tighten or lighten any part of your vulva. If you’re concerned about your lady parts, by all means, seek advice from a reputable physician. But try hard to think of your body as a unique and beautiful snowflake.
Want to learn more about your parts? Hurrah. Let’s start with this drawing from HelloClue.com’s Vagina 101 – a must read for anyone who has a vagina or wants to interact with one.
What everyone woman needs to know about her genital tract:
The vulva is the external part of your lady parts. It protects your sexual organs, urinary opening, vestibule and vagina and is nerve center of most of your sexual response. The outer and inner ‘lips’ of the vulva are called the labia majora (the outer folds) and labia minora (the inner folds.)
The vestibule is just what it sounds like if you’re used to
bandying about ancient Roman terminology that refers to an enclosed porch.
Your vaginal vestibule is your front door, if you will, to your vagina and your urethra. Your vagina is the tube that connects your vulva to your cervix. Your urethra is the tube that connects your vulva to your bladder.
The clitoris is party central – the pea-sized node that contains something like 15,000 nerve endings and is responsible for sexual pleasure. The hood is a protective fold of skin that keeps you from constantly sparking those nerves.
There you have it. Want a closer look? Hand mirrors are available in stores everywhere. Get yourself one and celebrate the beauty of your unique snowflake.