Despite the medical and social advancements of the 21st century, vaginas are still a bit of an allusive topic. Although there’s growing social acceptance that women have vaginas, we’re rarely taught to appreciate them. There’s a lot to know about your vagina but we’re here to make it easier.
For centuries, women have misunderstood their sensitive lady bits and unknowingly put them through a lot of abuse. So today, we’d like to clear up 5 big misconceptions about your vagina. You can genuinely understand how to care for and appreciate this amazing part of yourself!
1. Your Vagina is an Ecosystem
Your vagina’s interior has a precise pH balance, which is vital for keeping you free from infections. You naturally have an appropriate mix of good bacteria. They keep your lady bits functioning like they’re supposed to. But even the tiniest intruder can throw off this delicate balance. That imbalance can turn your vagina into a raging canal of burning and itching sensations.
Don’t fall into trends that encourage you to use anti-bacterial products on your vagina. They kill the good bacteria along with the bad. It’s why taking antibiotics when you’re sick puts you at a higher risk for yeast infections. And do your girl a favor by minimizing the time she spends in tight, stuffy, or sweaty clothes.
2. There is No “Correct” Vaginal Shape
There are several movements promoting feminine pride in labia of all shapes and sizes. You may be surprised to find out that your vagina comes in many varieties as well! And that it’s 100% okay for yours to be different than your girlfriends’.
Studies showed that vaginas have 5 common shapes and that all are perfectly functional and normal. So focus on how your vagina feels—not what it looks like. If you’re getting pleasure, who cares if it’s shaped like a pumpkin seed or a straight tube? The only time you should be concerned is if you’re actually experiencing pain during sex. If this is the case, your doctor can help address any issues.
3. Your Vagina has a Self-Cleaning Feature!
Too many women obsess over “cleansing” their vaginal canals with douches, scented soaps, and even bleach. Stop! Your vagina doesn’t need your help to stay clean. It’s designed to take care of that on its own. You may not appreciate it in the moment, but whenever you have vaginal discharge, it’s a sign that your vagina is doing its natural thing.
When you disrupt the process, you upset that delicate pH balance. You should never put something in your vagina that your doctor has not explicitly prescribed. Yes, that may mean your girl has a little odor every now and then, but she’ll smell better in the long run when you leave her alone.
4. Vaginal Birth isn’t the Only Event that Changes Things
It’s rare for your lady bits to completely return to their original shape after you’ve powered through childbirth. However, you may start to see and feel changes to your vagina even if you’ve never given vaginal birth. Menopause can change things as well.
Once your body decides to stop prepping for babies, it shuts down the parts that it doesn’t think you’ll need anymore. What often happens is that your vaginal muscles begin to atrophy and become thin. To make things worse, lower estrogen levels mean less natural lubricant, which can make sex painful, too.
One of the best things you can do is consistent Kegel and other pelvic floor exercises. These exercises keep your muscles in use and feeling strong and tight as long as possible.
5. It’s Not Shameful to Need Extra Stimulation
Thanks to decades of porn and overblown male egos, too many women are embarrassed to admit that they need more than a penis to actually reach orgasm during sex. But in fact, only 18% of women even claim that they can get off without any extra stimulation.
So for the 82% majority that can’t—be honest about it! Sex is supposed to be pleasurable for both partners. Mix things up with new positions that let you or your partner reach your clit or nipples during sex. And don’t ever let anyone tell you what your body should be able to do based on outdated notions about sex.
When it comes to your vagina, few things are what society has told you to believe. Unless you’re experiencing pain or your doctor has told you something is wrong, don’t worry about it! It’s natural for your vagina to look, smell, and behave differently from other women, so stop trying to change it. Let her do her thing, and she’ll help you do yours, too.
Sarah Nelson is a nurse with 15 years of experience working with a variety of patients. She has a Masters of Science in Nursing and has spent a large portion of her career working exclusively with women in an OB/GYN setting.
Nursing is a passion for Sarah but she also enjoys writing and sharing her expertise online with people who need helpful information. Treating patients well and helping them learn more about their own bodies is a key essential to a healthy lifestyle that Sarah truly believes in.