Vaginas are fascinating, there is no doubt about it.
Sometimes, fascination can grow in part due to mystery surrounding the object. Vaginas are no stranger to this phenomena and it is part of the reason why we’ve decided to break down some of the mystery, taboo, and stigma about the vagina with #GetVagucated.
Here are the top seven wonders of the vagina, unveiled.
1. The Hymen
The hymen is truly a wonder (or even a mystery) of the vagina.
In many current and historic cultures, the hymen was believed to be the marker of virginity. However, many do not understand what the hymen actually is or even what it looks like.
The hymen is simply a small piece of tissue that rings around the vaginal opening. The hymen can break during penetration, or it can stretch . Some women are born with very thin hymens, others with no hymen at all. Some hymens break during rigorous activities like sports.
With all this variation, history, and a cloud of mystery surrounding its existence (or lack thereof), the hymen is most certainly in the top seven wonders of the vagina.
2. The Vagina Belongs To a Whole System of Awesome
Even the title of this blog post is technically wrong – but it sure caught your attention, didn’t it?
In fact, many are not aware that the vagina is only one part of the entire female reproductive system and that there’s a difference between the internal and external parts.
Often, many use the term vagina to refer to their entire “down there” lady bits. What many women don’t know is that the vagina is an elastic, muscular tube only about 3-4 inches (8-10cm) long and it does not connect to other parts of the body. Other noteworthy and anatomically correct names for the other parts include the clitoris, the inner and outer labia, and the perineum.
3. The Clitoris
No list of the wonders of female reproductive anatomy would be complete without mention of the clitoris, the orgasm powerhouse.
The clitoris has 8,000 nerve endings and most women require clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm. The clitoris is the only organ whose sole existence is for pleasure.
Even more interesting is the origins of this little button of pleasure. Did you know that the penis and clitoris basically start out the same way during a fetus’s development? It’s only at about six weeks of gestation that each organ begins to form based on chromosomes. In fact, the labia majora would become the scrotum and the labia minora would form the shaft of the penis.
4. The Muscle
The vaginal canal itself is made of some very elastic muscle and tissues that are designed to stretch and return back to its normal size.
In fact, the vagina can stretch to up to 200% its normal size and return back to normal. Vaginas are designed this way to be able to stretch to deliver a baby (should one wish to deliver a child vaginally, of course… you do you).
After intercourse or childbirth, the tissue returns back to its normal size.
However, it’s the muscles of the vaginal canal that usually need to be strengthened after childbirth using exercises like kegels (under the supervision of a pelvic health specialist). Most often, young women do not need to do kegels as this can create muscles that are too strong or tense. Contrary to popular belief, kegels do not necessarily make sex better and having a “tight” vagina can even be problematic in some cases.
For more information about Kegels and strengthening your pelvic floor, check out our Q&A with a pelvic health physiotherapist.
Orgasms are a wonderful, magical thing and that is why we are including them in our seven wonders of the vagina.
When a woman orgasms, the muscles in her vagina contract. Those of us who have a vagina can often orgasm multiple times.
Orgasms are a powerful painkiller. They can help to alleviate menstrual cramps and interestingly enough, may help reduce feelings of depression in women by producing feel good hormones.
6. Good Guy Bacteria
This may sound like an odd wonder, but trust us, bacteria is incredibly wondrous as far as the vagina is concerned.
The vagina is a delicate and balanced ecosystem that contains bacteria which are used to clean the vagina and keep the pH balance in check. Fun fact: your vaginal fluid is made of carbs, amino acids, proteins and other lactobacillus bacteria. Also, the pH balance of your vagina is the same of a glass of wine. Cheers to that!
7. The Cervix
The cervix is a small, donut-shaped opening that connects your vagina and your uterus.
If you so happen to birth a child vaginally, the cervix dilates to about 3.9 inches (or about 10 cm) to allow the passage of a child. Women can be born with more than one cervix, which is a medical condition known as uterus didelphys. If you have more than one cervix, you have multiple cervices (which is the actual plural form of the word cervix!).
If you’re not sure what a cervix looks like, check out this awesome collection of actual images of cervices.
Did you know about all these wonders?