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20 amazing facts about our vaginas we bet you didn't know

Can tampons get lost up there? And do vaginas shrink?

Vaginas, fannies, foofs, yonies – however you want to refer to them – they can give us pleasure, cause us pain, and quite literally bring new life into the world. They're pretty damn incredible. The question is, how well do you actually know yours?

These days, we're a lot more familiar with our lady garden than we used to be. Sexual wellness has seen a revolution in the way we look at and talk about our vaginas. Ads from the likes of razor brand, Billie, who showed women with (gasp) pubes for the first time, or eco period brand Natracare whose campaign sees a model wear a maxi pad, are seeking to minimise shame, stigma and embarrassment in favour of opening up honest, fun and liberated conversations.

It's a movement that's been further bolstered by lockdown, which (if we look at the sales of sex toys alone), has prompted many of us to become better acquainted with our bits. Companies like Dipsea and SmileMakers are making audio erotica and porn podcastsmore easily accessible so we can listen to our sexual fantasies play out while we follow along.

There's still a way to go, of course, and the best way to look after yourself (and your sexual wellness) is to know exactly what's going on down there.

Discussions are a great place to start. So kick off a conversation with your pals. But remember, we're all different, which means what's normal for you might not be for your mates. Nerding up on your nethers isn't only a good idea to help you get maximum enjoyment from masturbation and sex (although, that is a very good reason). It can also help you to easily spot the signs if something feels off.

Despite the progress that's been made, it seems a lot of people are still mystified by the vagina and the vulva (the external part of the genitals). A YouGov poll from last year found that 45% of women and 59% of men couldn't even point out the vagina on a diagram of female genitalia. They were also asked to point out the clitoris, which thankfully 71% of women, and 69% of men correctly identified. But, that's still almost one in three women who don't know where their clit is – yikes.

GLAMOUR is here to get you clued-up on your down-there, busting myths and dropping some pretty amazing facts too. And we're not just talking about vaginas, either. We've got the lowdown on the ins and outs (so to speak) of your labia, clitoris, perineum, G-spot and even A-spot (yes, it's a thing).

So pull up a chair, maybe grab a mirror and get ready to learn 20 amazing vagina facts. If this inspires you to indulge in a little self-love – read our expert tips on orgasming on your own or check out our roundup of the best sex toys out there. You're welcome.

The vagina is a self-cleaning organ...

Contrary to what you might have thought, your bits don’t need much help to stay peachy-clean. The vagina produces its own protective substances to get rid of unwanted fluids and bacteria. In fact, many feminine hygiene products can actually do more harm than good, unbalancing the natural pH of your vagina and increasing the risk of irritation. The safest way to stay fresh? Leave your vagina to clean itself.

Having an orgasm is better than Ibuprofen...

“Not tonight, I have a headache...” When you have an orgasm, your body releases a stream of feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins, which are kind of like natural morphine. The result? Not just a rush of euphoria, but something that can act like a painkiller and numb discomfort. The South Illinois School of Medicine did a study of 52 female migraine suffers in 2008, and found that 16 of them experienced significant pain relief after orgasming, while it cured eight of their ailment altogether.

Small girls do not have tighter vaginas...

It is a complete myth that short, petite girls have smaller, tighter vaginas than taller or bigger girls. It is also unlikely that you have a ‘tight’ vagina at all. Vaginas are elastic and will stretch and expand – sometimes to almost twice their size – during sex, regardless of how big or small you are.

Janice Hiller, a consultant clinical psychologist and sexologist, agrees: “Smaller, thinner girls have smaller pelvic structure, but there is nothing to suggest that they have smaller internal organs. Sometimes childbirth is more difficult for smaller women, but there is no evidence to suggest that they are tighter, this is a myth.”

If you do feel a little tight downstairs, your hymen may be slightly thicker or your muscles may contract with more force. Too tight? Get checked over by a doctor to work out what the problem is.

The G-Spot wasn’t ‘discovered’ until the 1940s...

It seems man-kind was fumbling around down there until the 1940s, when Dr Ernest Gränfenberg – the German godfather of gynaecology – identified the erogenous zone known as the G-Spot, and informed the rest of the world about what it did. But the actual name G-Spot (in which the G stands for Gränfenberg) wasn’t coined until 1982, and its exact location not confirmed until 2008 by scientists in Italy.

Boys and girls, we’re all the same...

They might look a tad different now, but clitorises and penises actually start life from exactly the same bundle of tissue. During the first eight weeks from conception in the womb, the undifferentiated genital group of cells – which all embryos have – develops into either a clitoris or a penis depending on the hormone instructions it receives. This means that the clitoris is actually formed from the same tissue that would have become the glans and upper-shaft of the penis, had the embryo received ‘male’ hormones.

Not all yeast is bad...

Yeast infections are actually just an overgrowth of yeast organisms that already exist in your vagina. They tend to multiply out of control when your immune system is low, your diet is poor, you’re on antibiotics, or even wearing nylon underwear a few too many times. To prevent yeast from taking charge, simply limit sugar and bread intake (of course...) and try exchanging your man-made pants for a good old-fashioned pair of cottons.

We all know about the G-Spot, but what about the A-Spot?

If you’ve never heard of the A-Spot before, make sure you get to know it: it’s the key to stronger, better, longer orgasms, and getting it right is your one-way ticket to pleasure town. The Anterior Fornix Erogenous Zone – to use the technical term – is a tender bit of tissue that resides at the end of your vagina and just in front of the cervix. When it is stimulated by being hit or stroked, it reacts with orgasmic contractions and produces a lubricant. Combined with G-Spot stimulation, our new friend the A-Spot is unbeatable in the bedroom.

Healthy vaginas don’t smell

If you’re fighting fit and healthy downstairs, then your vagina shouldn’t smell much at all, which means a stronger-than-usual odour can be an indicator of potential health problems. A change in your natural odour could mean you’re suffering from dehydration, a yeast infection, or even that you’re taking too many vitamin supplements. Do you have an on-going odour issue? Book an appointment with your doctor so you can work out what the problem is.

Men aren’t the only ones who ejaculate...

Ever felt like you needed to pee during sex, were just about to, held back, then lost the urge completely? You may have unwittingly stopped yourself from a female ejaculation.

Just like the G-Spot, the exact mechanics of this sexual marvel are yet to be fully decoded, but the most accepted theory is that a liquid (made up of glucose, prostatic acid phosphatise, and two ingredients commonly found in urine) builds up in the spongy tissue of the G-Spot when it is repeatedly stimulated, before shooting out of the urethra.

“Female ejaculation is very rare, and it’s not understood how it happens,” says Janice Hiller. “It’s not really related to sensations or feeling good, so it’s not something to try and achieve or aspire to with your partner. Chances are, you can’t do it.”

Size really (really) doesn’t matter...

The average vagina is only around three inches in size – stretching to four when aroused – and can adapt to accommodate almost any length. This means that a penis of any size will fill a woman’s vagina completely, unless your chosen partner has an extremely rare erect penile length of less than three inches. Wondering how an average sixer fits in? The vagina has the remarkable ability of lengthening when something is introduced into it slowly, and can grow by 200% during sex.

Put thy sword into my scabbard...

Ever wondered where the name ‘vagina’ came from? It’s actually a Latin word that means ‘sheath’ or ‘scabbard’, as in a scabbard one might slide into when attempting to sheath one’s sword. We can think of a million less misogynistic (and military) metaphors for it, but that’s the Romans for you...

Not every woman has a G-Spot...

Scientists finally discovered where they think the G-Spot is in 2008, but in doing so also discovered that, unfortunately, millions of women don’t have one. Research indicates that women who were confident they possess the spot – an area around 2cm inside the top section of the vagina – have significantly thicker regions than those that do not. Blood tests also show that the lucky women have higher levels of chemicals linked to sex function too.

...and not all G-Spots do the same thing!

If you are one of the fortunate few to be blessed with this sought-after pleasure switch, then you may be interested to learn that the way it reacts to stimulation is totally unique.

“Women do have very different experiences, most of it very pleasuring and arousing,” says Janice Hiller. “Some have had negative experiences and might feel uncomfortable or anxious and dislike the stimulation, so there are various responses. Most of them are pleasurable, however.”

We know which we’d prefer...

Vaginas DO shrink back to size after birth...

It’s a scary prospect, pushing an 8lb bundle of joy through the small bony circle of your lower pelvis, right before you force its head and shoulders through your vagina, expanding it to more than three times its usual size. But, contrary to what horror stories you may have been told, most vaginas DO retain their natural size, shape and tone after giving birth. It may take a few months, but it’ll get there, allowing you and your partner to enjoy sex just as you did before. Want to speed up the healing process? Give pelvic floor exercises a whirl.

Hold the wax! Pubic hair is there for a reason...

You may choose to groom yours or whip them off entirely – but there is a point to pubic hairs. Aside from acting as a great indicator of sexual maturity in more confused, cave-man times, the coarse hairs are thought to reduce external friction during sex, collect secreted pheromones, and protect against all kinds of (arguably more unsightly) skin complaints, from infections and rashes to full-blown acne. Think about that before you book a Brazilian!

Tampons have nowhere to go...

Listen up, and listen good: tampons cannot get lost up there. It is impossible for a tampon to move up through the uterus and into the abdomen, as the cervix – which is positioned at the top of the vagina – is so tiny and hard to force, that it can only pass fluids and semen (except when you give birth, of course). More likely, if you’ve forgotten to take your tampon out and it has disappeared, it has turned sideways and compressed itself at the top of your vagina out of your reach. If this is the case, book an appointment with your nurse or doctor, and get them to remove it for you as soon as possible to protect against infection.

Kegel exercises do not involve star jumps...

....but they do involve flexing a muscle or two.

“Kegel excersises are really useful because they strengthen the muscles in the pelvic floor,” our sexologist Janice Hiller says. “This can help with sexual sensation and keeps the area toned and strong.”

The benefits of Kegels range from greater support and recovery during child birth, and even preventing urinary incontinence in later life. To do your Kegel exercises, imagine you are trying to stop yourself peeing, pull the muscles up around your bum and tummy, relax and repeat. You can do them right now and no one would even know. Give it a try!

Vaginas have teeth?!?

Well, no actually, they don’t. But that biological fact hasn’t stopped the ancient myth of vagina dentata sweeping through civilisations. Translated from Latin to mean ‘toothed vagina’, various cultures and tribes have told folk tales for generations about women with toothed vaginas, often as cautionary tales warning against the dangers of sex with women, and even to discourage rape.

“You might have already guessed it, but this is a complete myth,” Janice Hiller confirms. “It’s just something dreamt up to scare men, mostly. It’s ridiculous.”

Discharge is squeaky-clean...

If you’re fighting fit and healthy, then your discharge – the white or clear liquid that comes from your vagina – should be clean and odourless. Discharge is the exact opposite of ‘dirty’ and is packed full of friendly bacteria to protect against infection, lubricate, and cleanse the vagina. If you have excessive discharge, you’ve noticed changes in colour, odour, or are experiencing itching or irritation, book an appointment at your nearest sexual health clinic or visit your GP for a check-up – you may be harbouring a little problem down there.

Orgasms start in the brain, not the vagina...

Think that overwhelmingly pleasurable sensation is coming from between your thighs? Think again. The act of orgasm actually occurs between your ears, when certain cerebral pathways in your limbic system (the part of your brain that controls emotions, desires and impulses) are turned off as they are bound to by nerve cell receptors and chemical messengers (as instructed by your vagina), while others are turned on with the biggest blast of dopamine (the naturally-occurring chemical that allows us to feel intense rushes of pleasure and cravings) that you can legally get hold of. No wonder we’re always chasing that thrill.

This article originally appeared on GLAMOUR UK

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