15 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Vaginas

In the new Netflix show Grace & Frankie, the two 70-year-old women protagonists have a hilarious exchange about vaginas in one of the episodes. Grace, stiff and always put together, claims that she’s never talked to a man about what she likes in bed or her vagina and Frankie, an open-minded flower child hippie, tells her, “It’s anatomical! Say the word! Clitoris!” Many women I’ve encountered are a lot like Grace, scared to talk about their own body for fear of being crass or un-ladylike. But our bodies are not something to be ashamed of or shy away from. All parts of our bodies are important and most serve a purpose in keeping us ticking, including our vaginas.

The word vagina is Latin in origin and means “wrapper” or “scabbard.”

(In case you don’t know, a scabbard is a sheath for a blade or dagger. Makes sense, eh?) Clitoris is actually Greek in origin and has connotations to the Greek word “kleis,” which means “key.” As Frankie would say, “Direct clitoral stimulation is essential (KEY, even) before, during, and often after penetration!”

The vagina is actually only one part of your nether regions

. Technically, “vulva” is the term for the blanket area that includes your labia, clitoris, and perineum. The vagina is the canal that runs along the inside of your vulva which then leads to your cervix and uterus.

No two vulvas are exactly the same

. You should never be ashamed of what you look like down under. There are no two vulvas that look exactly the same; some women have labias that protrude more outwardly, some women have clitoroses that are larger than others, some women have birth marks or extra skin folds or darker colored areas. There’s no ONE way for vulvas to look. Feel free to have a look here at some of the different types (NSFW warning, though!)

The vagina can stretch… a lot.

Normally the pleated walls of your vagina lay compressed against each other; however when aroused the canal can open up like an umbrella, usually anywhere from half an inch to two inches wide. And if the time should come when a baby needs to pass through, the vagina can stretch even wider! That being said….

No large penis is going to stretch out your vagina forever.

Vaginas are super elastic when it comes to width and are generally only about 3 – 7 inches deep before reaching the cervix. Because they are so elastic, they are able to return to their original tightness after you’re finished having sex.

However, having a baby may make you feel like your vagina is not as tight as it once was and can even cause urinary incontinence

.There are many exercises you can do tighten back up after having a baby, including kegels and pelvic floor exercises.

There’s a delicate balance of good and bad bacteria inside your vagina

. The vaginal bacterium Lactobacillus gasseri was recently used to create an antibiotic that kills the pathogens that create infection without harming the good bacteria that help facilitate your organs; a huge step forward in antibiotics, as most wipe out everything, even the good cells. Sometimes an overflow of harmful bacteria in your vagina can happen from various reasons such as sex with a new partner or douching. It’s called bacterial vaginosis (BV) and is often accompanied by unpleasant odor, discharge, and painful urination. Vaginal cleanliness is super important in keeping BV away (i.e. wiping front to back, washing with mild soap, and wearing breathable underwear, especially during hot months.)

In 2009, Tatyana Kozhevnikova set the world record for vaginal weightlifting by lifting 30 pounds with her vagina

. She attached a wooden egg to the weights so that it could be inserted into her vagina and the contracting muscles could then lift the weight. Feel free to watch a video here, if you’re so inclined.

There’s a science behind why you feel so good while orgasming

. Having and orgasm releases endorphins that have a similar chemical makeup to morphine. Endorphins are pain-relievers, and help control your body’s reaction to stress and also help determine mood. Many women report that orgasming during their menstrual cycle helps lessen cramping.

Vaginas are strong enough to clamp down on a penis and not let it out.

It’s a rare occurrence called penis captivus and it happens when the muscles in the vagina constrict so tightly that the penis is not able to be withdrawn. It’s like that movie Teeth…minus the actual teeth.

The first movie to ever say the word “vagina” was a Disney animated short made in 1946 called “The Story of Menstruation.”

It was a non-theatrical release explaining the menstrual cycle and was showed to about 105 million American health education students.

Your vagina has a self-cleaning mechanism — no need to douche!

Your secretions and discharge actually flush out bad bacteria and cells. Douching actually upsets the natural balance your body has in place and can cause everything from Pelvic Inflammatory Disease to pregnancy complications. Just don’t do it. See number 7 if you want some helpful tips on keeping yourself clean and bacteria free.

Vaginas and sharks both contain the organic compound squalene.

It’s a natural lubricant for vaginas and also exists in shark livers.

Vaginas in adult women have a PH of about 3.8 — about the same amount as a tomato or a glass of apple juice

. We’re right there in between vinegar and bananas.

Your clitoris contains 8,000 nerve endings (penises only contain 4,000.)

Frankie knew what she was talking about when she told Grace about clitoral stimulation during sex. The clitoris is the only part of the human body that exists solely for pleasure.

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