What the heck is a vulva? Are you even sure which part is the vagina? And which bit gives pleasure? Let’s have a good look
Fun fact … the term vagina only refers to one specific part of your anatomy; a tube about 8cm (3in) long, which leads to your cervix. This handy dandy body part allows you to have sex, menstruate and give birth.
However, there is a lot more to genitalia than just the vagina. A person’s external genitalia, known as the vulva, is also important for sexual pleasure and a host of other things.
The vulva consists of the urethra, clitoris, inner and outer labia and vaginal opening and is protected by our pubic hair. You can view a diagram of it here.
The urethra is a small hole above the vaginal opening which we use to pee and it is completely distinct from the vagina.
Contrary to popular belief, people with vaginas do not urinate from them (if you’re sceptical remember that it’s still possible to pee with a tampon inserted).
The clitoris is essentially the pleasure centre of the vulva; it has 8,000 nerve endings (more than double that of the penis) and when stimulated it can induce an orgasm.
The vulva is the only part of the human body that is 100% dedicated to sexual pleasure.
This stimulation can occur from fingers, a tongue or a sex toy and can be achieved with a partner(s) or with masturbation.
Often, direct stimulation of the clitoris can be too intense, so non-direct stimulation of the clitoral hood is the way to go.
The clitoris is both internal and external and by far the biggest part of it is hidden under the skin (imagine the giant iceberg in Titanic if you have trouble visualising this).
The external part, known as the clitoral glans, is protected by a flap of skin called the clitoral hood and you can find it at the top of the vulva right above the urethra. The internal clitoris extends 7-12 cm into the body and has a wishbone shape.
Interestingly, the clitoris has a lot of anatomical similarities to the penis with the clitoris also engorging during arousal, sometimes by up to 300%.
In fact, when a fetus is developing, the tissue that becomes the penis or clitoris is identical.
The labia minora (the inner labia) and labia majora (the outer labia) are folds of skin which protect the clitoris, urethra, and vagina. The labia can come in a variety of shapes and colours ranging from pale pink to black or brown.
Contrary to what is commonly seen in pornography, labia are often protruding and rarely symmetrical…think of them as the ultimate Picasso painting!
The vulva is cushioned by pubic hair which grows around the vulva and anus and can vary in texture, length, and colour.
Some people choose to remove their pubic hair for fashion and cultural reasons by waxing, shaving or epilation but it is completely fine to not remove pubic hair and many people choose not to.
Our vulva does so much for us that we don’t even realise … go show it some love by swotting up on vulva and vagina health here.