Vagina Facts – Answers to Vagina Questions – Cosmopolitan

External female genitalia with the labia separ...
Image via Wikipedia

1. It’s just one part of your down-there region
Most of us use the word vagina to refer to our private parts. But technically, the term describes only the narrow canal that runs inside your body from the vulva (the visible area that includes the inner and outer labia, clitoris, and perineum) to the cervix (the lower portion of the uterus).

2. Vaginas generally look alike
…On the inside, that is. What does vary is the vulva. The clitoris ranges from 1 to 1¼ inches (including the hood), the outer labia can be barely there or a few inches long, and the inner labia, which are reminiscent of butterfly wings, might be hidden or hang past the outer lips. Most women’s labia aren’t perfectly symmetrical — one side is usually bigger than the other.

3. The surrounding area often can be different colors
The shade of your southern region isn’t necessarily related to the tone of the rest of your skin. Many light-skinned women have brown or purplish labia, while a darker-hued chick can have a lighter vulva. You also can have different colors in different areas — for example, your labia could be on the darker side yet your perineum could be pale pink.

4. Its walls are pleated
Usually, the walls of the vagina lie compressed against each other. But when they need to open— to accommodate a tampon or penis—the sides separate and widen, kind of like the way an umbrella opens or a pleated skirt unfolds. The vagina typically swells from half an inch wide to 2 inches wide. And it can get even bigger — after all, a baby might have to pass through it!

5. Relax — a well-hung guy won’t stretch it out…
As explained above, the vagina is incredibly elastic and can fit a supersize penis — yet it always returns to its usual tightness after sex. But it might be a different story once you pop out a baby, as some moms say they do feel looser. You can tighten up by doing certain exercises (see number 7).

6. …Nor will it “revirginize” if you go through a long dry spell
There’s a rumor out there that if you find yourself in a no-booty bout, your vagina will become so tight that getting back in the saddle will hurt. It’s totally untrue. While your vaginal muscles may be tense at first, penetration shouldn’t be painful at all.

7. It benefits from regular exercise
Just as working your biceps firms up your arms, working your pubococcygeus muscle — a main muscle of your pubic region — can tone up your vadge. Besides giving you a tighter grip during sex, it also may make it easier to climax. Here’s how to exercise your V: Clamp down as if you’re stopping your urine flow, hold for 10 seconds, then release. Do 2 sets of 10 to 20 a day; you’ll notice a difference in about a month.

8. It’s teeming with bacteria
Don’t get grossed out — they’re the kind that keep bad microorganisms in check so you don’t get an infection. One of the good bacteria is lactobacilli, also found in yogurt. In fact, some gynos say you can help cure a yeast infection by inserting a tablespoon of plain yogurt with live cultures into your vadge (put some on a tampon, and push it in).

9. It’s self-cleaning
No need to douche or wash the inside — your vagina cleans itself with discharge (yep, that stuff has a function). The secretions flush out cells from the vaginal wall, excess water, and bacteria. The only washing it needs is on the outside between the labial folds and along the perineum (use a mild, scentfree soap).

10. The hair around it isn’t necessary
Back in caveman times, pubes shielded the vagina from bacteria and trapped odor to attract men. Today, we have clothes to protect us. And as for attracting a guy with your hairy crotch, the opposite may be true: Some guys are turned on by seeing a woman’s bare V.

11. Its smell gets stronger during your cycle
Speaking of scent, every vagina has one. It tends to be acidic before your period and pungent afterward. Your scent also may be more noticeable post-workout, because of sweat glands, and during sex, thanks to the natural lubrication you produce.

12. Getting it on does it good…
Part of the reason sex feels so amazing: Hoo-ha stimulation, whether or not you reach an O, releases feel-good hormones. Some gynos also say that having an orgasm eases cramps — an awesome reason to hit the sheets with your guy or have solo sex when you have your period.

13. …But too much sex can throw it out of whack
While regular action can relax you, too much in a short period of time may leave you chafed or inflamed down south or with a urinary-tract infection. You’re more likely to get a UTI if you do it on top or in missionary, since your guy’s penis is superclose to your urethra and can push harmful bacteria in it. No need to give up these poses though; peeing post-sex can keep a UTI at bay.

14. Discharge changes throughout your cycle
Your vadge produces more discharge — up to 2 teaspoons a day — during ovulation; it tends to be thinner and clearer at this time. Before your flow, it’s creamier and thicker. If it ever itches, burns, stinks, or looks like cottage cheese, see your gyno.

15. Things can’t get lost up there
Your vagina is not a black hole. It’s impossible for anything (like a tampon) to escape into your uterus — the cervix blocks off access. But a tampon can slip out of reach. If one does, fish it out while squatting and bearing down. If that doesn’t work, make an appointment with your gyno, who will pluck out the tampon quickly and painlessly. Note: Steer clear of putting food, even chocolate syrup or whipped cream, up there. The sugar can lead to an infection.

Designer Vaginas?
Some doctors say vaginal surgery can increase pleasure and improve appearance, but these procedures are rarely medically necessary, are hardly ever covered by insurance, and can cause nerve damage. (Besides, in our opinion, this is one thing that does not need improvement.) A few of the so-called corrections offered:

Vaginal Rejuvenation $7,000*
Aimed at women who complain of feeling too loose to enjoy sex, it involves tightening the vagina. The truth: No published studies show whether “rejuvenated” women feel more or less satisfaction.

Labiaplasty $6,000
This can reduce the size of the inner or outer labia and even out asymmetrical lips. However, visibly asymmetrical and uneven lips are actually the norm.

The G-Shot $1,550
It increases the size of the G-spot area via a collagen or cosmeticfiller injection; this supposedly intensifies sensation. Shots last three to six months. Beware: Its effectiveness is in doubt.

Hymen Repair $5,000
This reconstructs the hymen, allowing a woman to experience the feeling of losing her virginity again. Hmm…pain, blood, and awkwardness a second time around? Don’t sign us up.

*Costs are estimates; prices will vary.

Lady Parts in Pain?
Two very real yet poorly understood conditions can cause serious discomfort.

Vaginismus causes the vaginal muscles to contract involuntarily, making it difficult or impossible to have sex, use a tampon, even undergo a gyno exam. It can be treated via physical therapy and/or counseling, but often gets worse before it gets better because women who have it stress out so much wondering what’s going on before checking in with their gyno.

Vulvodynia is characterized by vulva pain, stinging, or sensitivity so intense that direct touch is hard to bear. There are no visible signs, and it’s often diagnosed after gynos rule out other conditions, such as a bad yeast infection. Antidepressants can often help lessen the pain.

Vagina Facts – Answers to Vagina Questions – Cosmopolitan.

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