Though half of the world’s population has a vagina, there’s likely a lot you don’t know about this essential piece of reproductive machinery. Well, prepare to learn, as we take you through 10 surprising facts about your lady parts.
By Honor Whiteman
Fact checked by Jasmin Collier
If simply hearing the word “vagina” makes you cringe with embarrassment, you’re not alone.
In fact, a 2016 survey discovered that a huge 65 percent of young women have problems saying “vagina,” with many preferring to use other terms, such as “women’s bits.”
Whatever you call it, there is one thing that we can all agree on: the vagina is vital for human reproduction and plays a major role in sexual satisfaction.
But there is so much more to the vagina than many of us realize. For example, did you know that the word “vagina” derives from the latin word for “sheath” or “scabbard”?
Here, we take a look at 10 more things that you probably didn’t know about your “vajayjay” (yes, I hate that word, too).
The ‘vagina’ probably isn’t what you think
This is one fact that we need to get out of the way. When you talk about the vagina, you might think you’re referring to a woman’s collective private parts — but you’d be wrong.
Instead, the word vagina actually refers to a specific part of the female reproductive system. It is the muscular tube that runs from the vulva. Which refers to the external female genitalia, including the labia and clitoris — to the cervix.
If you were wondering about size, research has found that vaginal depth can range from 2.7 to 3.1 inches. During sexual arousal, it is estimated that its depth can range from 4.3 to 4.7 inches.
You can’t lose a tampon in there
You may have heard some horror stories, but you’ll be relieved to know that it is impossible to get a tampon lost in your vagina; the opening at the top of your vagina is simply too small for it to escape through.
It is possible, however, to get a tampon stuck. If this is the case, you should see your doctor to get it removed. Leaving it in there for too long can increase the risk of toxic shock syndrome.
Your vagina may benefit from a workout
We don’t mean a “workout” in the sexual sense — although research has shown that regular sexual activity can help to keep your vagina healthy.
No, we’re talking about pelvic floor exercises, which are otherwise known as kegel exercises. They are normally done to help manage urinary incontinence, but research has shown that they can also help to improve sexual satisfaction.
How? Well, kegel exercises help to tighten the vagina, making sex more pleasurable and more likely to lead to orgasm.
Your vagina is like wine
That’s right. The normal pH of the vagina is less than 4.5, which is similar to the pH of wine.
Lactobacilli are the “good” bacteria that dominate the vagina; they help to keep pH levels normal in our lady parts and prevent the growth of infection-causing bacteria.
When levels of lactobacilli fall, vaginal pH levels can rise above 4.5, which is ideal breeding ground for vaginal infections, such as yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.
Don’t get carried away with cleaning
And that is exactly why we should avoid using scented soaps and other perfumed products to clean our vaginas.
Using such products interferes with the natural balance of vaginal bacteria, which may give rise to the aforementioned infections. In actual fact, we don’t really need to be overconcerned with our vaginal cleanliness at all; it takes care of itself.
There are glands in the vagina that secrete fluid, or “discharge,” and this helps to keep it clean.
“I see women of all ages with irritation, soreness, and itching,” said gynecologist and obstetrician Dr. Sangeeta Agnihotri to The Telegraph, “because there is a tendency for women to be overzealous with their cleanliness. This causes discomfort.”
“Our vaginas are sensitive areas. I would recommend washing once a day with water,” she added.
What you eat affects its scent
But if you’re worried that scrapping the soap might leave you smelling less than fresh down there, you might be interested to find that any unwelcome odors could be down to your diet.
Strong-smelling foods, such as onions and garlic, can leave you smelling less than fresh down there.
When it comes to the scent of your lady parts, there is some anecdotal evidence that we are what we eat.
For example, there is a widespread belief that consuming pineapple can give your vagina a sweeter scent. Other foods believed to alter vaginal odor include garlic, onion, and fish, as well as cheese and chillies.
A word of caution, however: if you notice that your lady parts smell particularly pungent or their scent has changed dramatically. It could be a sign of infection, so it’s worth getting it checked out.
Your clitoris has thousands of nerves
While the clitoris is not a part of the vagina, we simply couldn’t pass up the chance to talk about this amazing piece of female genitalia.
The clitoris is considered by many women as the crux of sexual pleasure, and it’s no wonder; the tip of the clitoris alone has a whopping 8,000 nerve endings — more than double the number of nerve endings in the penis — making it the most sensitive part of a woman’s erogenous zone.
And if that wasn’t enough, research has shown that the clitoris can increase in size by up to 300 percent during sexual arousal.
Your vagina doesn’t ‘fart’
All women have experienced it at one point or another: that embarrassing yet uncontrollable emission of air from the vagina, which is commonly known as “queefing.”
Yes, queefing sounds a lot like farting, but sounds can be deceiving. Those little puffs of air that emerge from our lady parts are simply that — trapped air that is being released from the vaginal canal.
They are not “farts” in the traditional sense because they are not waste gases, nor do they emit an unpleasant odor.
That said, in some rare cases, vaginal flatulence may be caused by a vaginal fistula, which is an abnormal opening from the vagina to the bladder, colon, or rectum.
The link between vaginas and sharks
While you wouldn’t normally compare your vagina to Jaws (and before you ask, no, vagina dentata is not a real condition), your lady parts have more in common with sharks than you realize.
The lubricant produced by the vagina contains a compound called squalene, which is the same compound that is found in the livers of sharks.
Controversially, squalene is also used in many cosmetic products, such as moisturizing lotions, sunscreens, and hair products.
It’s not all about the G-spot
We’ve all heard of the G-spot — an erogenous zone of the vagina that, when stimulated, may lead to sexual arousal and orgasm.
But have you heard of the A-spot? Also known as the anterior fornix erogenous zone, the A-spot is believed to be located deep inside the vagina, between the cervix and the bladder.
The A-spot is a relatively new discovery by Malaysian researcher Dr. Chua Chee Ann. In a study, he reported that 10–15 minutes of A-spot stimulation led to instant orgasms and vaginal lubrication in 15 percent of women who reported pain and dryness during sexual intercourse.