Natural and Organic Skin Care

Let’s Talk Vulva!

vagina eggI grew up in what many would consider a household that was open in regards to its conversations regarding sexuality.  Looking back, however, I realize that it wasn’t about sexuality at all, but rather simply about the act of sex itself.  In my opinion, sex and sexuality, while obviously intricately connected, are also completely different conversations.  A conversation about sex without also talking about sexuality is lacking a substantial piece of what makes the act itself such a remarkable thing.

It wouldn’t be a lie to say that I really never had an adult conversation about sexuality until well into my adulthood.  The result of that was that I was very uncomfortable with the topic, with what it meant for me personally, I was uncomfortable talking about it, exploring it, thinking about it.  Shit, I don’t even think I took a serious look at my vagina until just a few years ago.  While I realize that not everyone is like me, I do believe that there are far too many who are. 

The last couple of years have been an evolution in my own sexuality.  I can talk about it, explore it, and engage in conversations that a few years ago would have left me looking like I had fresh sunburn all over my face.  With two daughters to raise, my hope is that I can prepare them to own and understand their sexuality in a way that I wasn’t able to.

Now, I find the topic of female sexuality fascinating.  From books about the Divine Feminine to basic female anatomy, it’s all been so helpful to me.  So, fresh off an anatomy and physiology class with the topic of the vulva, I thought I’d share some insightful and helpful information just in case you too feel like you could use a little intel into your most sacred of parts 😉

vluva

Labia Major or Outer Lips

  •      Labia Major means large lips.  However, this isn’t really an accurate description; in many women the labia majora are actually smaller than the labia minora. 
  •      They are estrogen dependent and grow at puberty with the increase in circulating estrogens.  Because they are estrogen dependent, they also shrink a little bit after menopause because of the decrease in circulating estrogens. 
  •      They contain sebaceous glands that secrete sebum (the oil that we secrete on our skin to help keep it healthy)
  •      They also contain a specific type of sudoiferous (sweat) gland called apocrine sweat glands.  These get activated at puberty and provide an identifying scent to their secretions.
  •       They contain no erectile tissue
  •       They are hairy (want to know why? check out this great video)

Labia Minor or Inner Lips

  •      Also called Nymphae (yep, same root as Nymphomaniac)
  •         Considered to be part of the clitoral tissue
  •      High variability in appearance from woman to woman!
    •       Examples – one side might be larger than the other, might be bigger or smaller than the outer lips, color variation between women and at different times during reproductive stages (they often get darker during pregnancy)
  •      Not estrogen dependent – they do not grow at onset of puberty in the same way that the outer lips do
  •      Do not contain hair
  •      Loaded with erectile tissue!
  •      Contain a lot of nerve endings which causes sensitivity when they become engorged = feels really good 🙂
  •      The two sides come up and meet underneath the glans clitoris to form a little space called the frenulum.
  •      They come up and over the shaft of the clitoris forming what is called the prepuce (hood)

Vestibule

  •      Area bordered on the outside by the inner lips
  •      Contains the external urethral opening (where the pee comes out)
  •      Contains the vagina

Hymen

  •      A thin membrane that covers the vagina to protect from pathogens
  •      Easily torn early in life by stretching, by falling on it, by using a tampon, and of course through intercourse

Vagina

  •      The birth canal
  •      Where the menstrual blood comes out
  •      Enveloper of the penis
  •      Contains no erectile tissue
  •      About 4-5 inches long
  •      Sits at a 45 degree angle and connects with the cervix
  •      Has mucous membranes
  •      Has rugae (wrinkles) – these are what help it stretch 10 times in size during birth (personal side note and possibly TMI – because I didn’t know what it was supposed to look like inside of my vagina, when I first noticed these relatively deep wrinkles of skin, I thought something was wrong with me.  I had incorrectly assumed that it was silky smooth up in there..)
  •      Home to the healthy, beneficial bacteria – made up mostly of lactobacilli- that help to keep it healthy. 

o   The lactobacilli make hydrogen peroxide and lactic acid creating a very acidic environment (ph of 3.8-4.5)

o   Because of the acidity, the vagina is the cleanest orifice in our body!

  •      Infections occur when we wipe out our friendly bacteria.  This is caused by:

o   Douching

o   Antibiotics

o   Sperm, which has a ph of 8.5 – HOWEVER, when we have 1 consistent sexual partner, our body will adapt to that mans sperm so it doesn’t create problems.  This isn’t the case when a woman has multiple partners (I find this an interesting biological piece of support for us humans being meant to be monogamous)

Bartholin’s Glands

  • Secrete fluid into the vagina

Clitoris

  •      Has 8,000 nerve endings – 2 to 4 times more than the penis! – More than any other place in the body!
  •      15,000 nerves service the whole region!
  •        When the breasts are stimulated, oxytocin is released which causes a tingling sensation in this area
  •      Made up of different parts!  Not just the glans (the part you typically think of when talking about the clitoris).  The reason why we’re not as familiar with the other parts is that they’re not superficial, meaning we don’t see them upon visual inspection
  • Clitoris_anatomy_labeled-en

1.     Glans

2.     Shaft/Body

  •      Extends underneath and up toward the pubic symphysis (the joint right above the vulva)
  •      Thousands of blood vessels comes into it
  •      ½ inch to 1 inch long
  •      Diameter of a straw
  •      When aroused, can feel it underneath the hood

3.     Crura/Legs (Crus singular)

4.     Bulb of the Vestibule

  •       Connected to the glans and extends down and out around the outside of the inner lips and into the walls of the vagina
  •       Presses in on the walls of the vagina when engorged making the space between them smaller
  •       When engorged, moves the blood up to the glans clitoris

Urethra

  •      Where urine passes through and is excreted out
  •      Surrounded by the Urethral Sponge which:

o   Is surrounded by erectile tissue

o   2 inches long

o   Sits right behind the vagina

o   Can palpate it when a woman is aroused by going into the vagina towards the pubic symphysis can feel for a rough patch of tissue about a ¼ inch to ½ inch long – that’s the erectile tissue of the urethral sponge!  Within this is the infamous G-Spot!

o   Contains 20-30 little glands called Skene’s Glands – 

  •      Secrete the same type of secretion as the prostrate in men –
  •      It is an alkaline secretion and not the same as urine
  •      Varies in volume
  •     This is what causes female ejaculation

Perineum

  •       Located between the vagina and the anus
  •       Contains the perineal sponge – A bunch of blood vessels that become engorged when aroused causing it to be more sensitive

So there you have it – The anatomy of the Vulva! For those of you who might have been a little uncertain as all of its various parts, I hope this provided a little bit of clarity 🙂

Much Love,

~Amy~

Speak Your Mind

*