10 Things You're Supposed to Know About Your Vagina

BlogHer Original Post

As the mother of a tween, I've been spending some time lately with all manner of puberty books. Books that explain the seventeen stages your boobs will go through as they morph from bee stings to Those Things American Marketers Worship. Books that explain Shark Week your period and all the glorious cramps, bloating and hate-watching reality television that accompanies it. Books that describe what happens to your face at thirteen as "acne." As we read these books together, my daughter reached over and grabbed my arm. "Mommy," she said. "I don't think I want to do puberty."

Oh, honey. I don't really want to do perimenopause, either, but that's the glory of XX chromosomes. So let me scrape off my night sweat and let me tell you what I didn't tell her -- yet -- about vaginas.

poppy bud

Credit Image: (matt) on Flickr

Stuff You Need to Know About Your Vagina

  1. You don't need a douche bag. No matter how fun it is to say the words "douche bag," you shouldn't use them. Your vagina doesn't like them. The government wishes you wouldn't douche. It doesn't help, and it could hurt. The vagina, like your oven, is self-cleaning.

  2. It's okay if your labia hang low, if they wobble to and fro. A few scientists measured the labia of more than 2,000 women, and though they found most women's labia hang about 3/4 of an inch or less, some are up to two and a third inches, swinging like rose petals. And everyone is totally fine.

  3. Your vag shouldn't itch or smell like fish. Beware the dread yeasty beastie or other types of vaginal infections. While not life-threatening, they can make you want to grab the round brush. Seek treatment immediately!

  4. "Vulva" is the name comprising all the external female sex organs you can see. That's right! It's all the vulva! All of it! The mons pubis, labia majora, labia minora, clitoris, vestibule of the vagina, bulb of the vestibule, and Bartholin's glands are ALL THE VULVA.

  5. Your clitoris has more nerve endings than any other part of your body. Eight thousand, lovelies. Which means that if you haven't found it already, it's time to locate your pea-sized, hooded glory.

  6. Nothing can get lost in your vagina. It ends at your cervix, not the freeway. No matter what your cousin's best friend's sister told you on the school bus, your vagina is definitely finite.

  7. Every woman has vaginal discharge. Just like everyone poops, every woman occasionally sees wetness in her wares. Unless it smells bad, in which, see number 3. Or you can read even more about how your vagina is supposed to smell here.

  8. Enjoy the rainbow. Your vulva can be all kinds of colors or even different colors at different points in your life. Fun!

  9. Vaginal dryness isn't just for the menopausal. Vaginal dryness can result from a drop in estrogen caused by menopause, childbirth, breastfeeding and more -- or your decongestant could have you reaching for the lube. Dry = dry, oh my.

  10. You'll never be able to braid your pubic hair. Your pubes only grow for three or four weeks, so they won't ever grow long enough to perm.

What'd I miss?

Rita Arens is the author of the young adult novel The Obvious Game & the deputy editor of BlogHer.com. Find more at www.ritaarens.com.

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