Debunking 5 common myths about the vagina.
Whether they come in the form of bad jokes, ill-informed advice, or plain old misconceptions that we’ve just come to accept, we’ve probably all heard one or two myths about the vagina in our time. Yet it’s important that we can recognise fake news when it comes to our nether regions. It can have very real consequences on our mental and physical health, if our collective opinion on the vajayjay is skewed. So, I’m armed with my proton pistol and ready to bust some real-world vagina myths!
MYTH NUMBER 1: The vagina can be seen on the outside of the body - it’s everything you can see if you stand naked in front of/squat over a mirror.
This one’s a biggie - even Gwyneth Paltrow fell prey to the Vagina is External misnomer and couldn’t correctly identify it on her Netflix show last year.
You see, people with a penis just look down and, well, there it is. So it could be easy to assume that the situation is the same for people with a vagina. Not true! However that’s no reason not to know and understand the anatomy.
The vagina is an internal tube and doesn’t include the vulva (more on that in a second). It’s the connecting bit between the inside of your body and the outside world, also known as the birth canal or the bit where a tampon or menstrual cup goes.
The vulva is all of the outside bits. So that’s the labia minora (the inner lips which don’t grow hairs), the labia majora (the outer lips which do) and the clitoris, which by the way, is the only known organ that exists purely for sexual pleasure.
According to the NHS, the vagina is about 8cm or 3in long. Lovely!
MYTH NUMBER 2: The more sex a person has, the looser the vagina is / it stretches after encountering lots of sexual partners / generally degenerates into a flappy sleeve.
*sigh*. No. The vagina is actually a muscle, meaning that it can’t become loose, baggy OR flappy. The amount of sex a person has, just like the number of sexual partners, has no bearing on the size, shape or ‘tightness’ of the vagina.
Having said that, the size of the vagina does fluctuate in certain situations. Where you are in your menstrual cycle, and how sexually aroused you are, can both affect how high/low the cervix is (that’s the gateway to the womb, at the top of the vagina). And being the wonderful organ that it is, the vagina can accommodate an ENTIRE BABY passing through on it’s way out into the wonderful world, then return back to literally within millimetres of its pre-birth shape and size.
Just like we all know that a penis can’t wear down after having a certain amount of sex, the vagina doesn’t stretch out either.
MYTH NUMER 3: The vagina requires special cleaning products to stop it from smelling.
@Vagisil, I’m looking at you. Just like your eyes, nose and ears, the vagina is self-cleansing. You do not need to spend your (or your parents’) hard-earned money on ‘intimate’ washes. Nor do you need to wash the vulva or vagina with soap. Warm water does the job just fine!
LOTS of gynaecologists have confirmed that soap/washes can upset the balance of healthy bacteria in the vagina and vulva, leading to thrush, B.V and general discomfort. Similarly, douching is unnecessary and can also cause upset to the vagina’s delicate ecosystem of bacteria, flora and other healthy microorganisms.
And whilst we’re here, scented tampons/pads/liners, vaginal perfumes and scented ‘on-the-go’ wipes are… yep, you guessed it! Also unnecessary!
looks cute, not how you need to be smelling down there though
Now that we’ve got that all cleared up (hehe), on a similar vein is…
MYTH NUMBER 4: The vagina is complicated, confusing and tricky to navigate.
Sure, anything can seem a bit confusing or daunting if you’re not that informed about it, but there seems to be this general idea that vaginas are intrinsically ‘difficult'. They are not. As we’ve already discussed, the vulva and vagina don’t require special cleaning, aren’t comprised of 1000 different parts and are totally capable of reaching an orgasm - I refer you back to the clitoris.
It seems kind of obvious (hopefully) that there’s no big secret going on down there but I had to include this one after a guy I was seeing complained that vaginas are ‘complicated’ because they have so many ‘compartments’. Literal quotes right there.
Although part of me wishes I had somewhere safe and handy for my spare change and keys - it sure as hell AIN’T the pockets on my jeans - there are no compartments, hidden passageways, secret entrances or anything else mysterious down there.
As we’ve already covered, the vagina is:
1. a tube of muscle
Seems pretty simple to me.
MYTH NUMBER 5: The vagina has a hymen, which remains in tact until A Penis breaks it and takes away Your Virginity™️
There are lots of reasons why this is problematic.
Virginity is nothing more or less than an idea created by societies long, LONG ago, to define someone who has never had PIV (penis-in-vagina) sex. Historically, and still in some cultures today, the presence of a thin membrane at the vaginal opening is seen as:
a) proof that a women has never had sex before, and
b) more the less the tape across the finishing line, crossed by the husband on the wedding night. This is quite misleading.
An ‘in tact’ or ‘whole’ hymen is actually biologically quite impractical: how would a period exit the body if the vagina is closed off? So this doesn’t occur naturally very often at all. Ifa person is born with a hymen - not guaranteed - it’s likely to have small gaps in it, or only cover part of the vagina. On top of this, it can easily tear due to exercise or tampon/cup use, and sometimes it just does a Ginny Lemon and exits the show, i.e. dystrophies, for no apparent reason.
And of course all this is before we even START talking about the fact that sex is far more inclusive than just a penis penetrating a vagina. That’s a blog post for another day.
So, hymen ≠ virginity.
Well, there we have it folks. That’s the top 5 myths and misconceptions surrounding the Notorious V.A.G. that I personally still encounter as an almost-24-year-old, hopefully all cleared up and put in their rightful places. It’s great that we’ve made it this far as a society in terms of opening up the conversation about bodies, sex, periods and womxns’ issues. Let’s not stop now! Let’s keep talking, sharing our experiences and busting any outdated vagina myths right out of 2021.
Author; Maria Bennett
Ditch The Rag Donation Manager
Art by; @charlotte.illustrates