THE VULVA IS NOT THE VAGINA
Confusion between the vulva and the vagina is surprisingly common when talking about a woman’s genitalia. They are, however, two different parts of the female anatomy and it's empowering to know that.
• The vulva consists of all the external parts, including the inner lips (labia minora) and the outer lips (labia majora), the clitoris, the opening to the vagina and urethra and the mons pubis (the fatty tissue that covers the pubic bone).
• The vagina is internal. It’s the muscular canal that connects the vulva with the cervix and the rest of the internal reproductive system (uterus, ovaries, oviducts).
The Great Wall of Vagina (panel 7 of 10) by Jamie McCartney
vulva ≠ vagina
vulva = external parts
& size differ
50% of women have
protruding inner lips
EACH VULVA IS UNIQUE AND THAT'S NORMAL
There is no such thing as a “normal-looking” vulva. Each one is different. Colours, shapes and sizes differ and a vulva is also rarely symmetric. Some women–actually 50% of them–have inner lips (labia minora) that protrude beyond their outer lips (labia majora), while the other half don’t. Nothing is more ‘ideal’ or 'better looking'. As with sex, penises and breasts, do not look to porn in order to find out what ‘the norm’ is, you won’t find any useful information there! The photo on this page, extract from Jamie McCartney’s art project consisting of four hundred plaster casts of vulvas, gives an idea of how many differences there are. A few other links will take you to more websites with photos of real-life vulvas.
Whatever yours looks like, it’s just the way it should be and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
YOUR VULVA PROTECTS YOUR VAGINA
The vulva is not only the centre of a woman’s sexual response it also plays the important role of protecting the opening of the vagina and of the urethra. The labia is not alone in this protective job, pubic hair is also part of the body’s natural defence. Pubic hair keeps out dirt and potentially harmful microorganisms. It also lessens friction during sex and prevents the transmission of bacteria and other pathogens.
YOUR CLITORIS IS MUCH BIGGER THAN IT LOOKS
Until 1998, the actual size of the clitoris was vastly ignored by mainstream science. Thanks to Australian urologist Helen O’Connell the entire clitoris became a hit in the media as it was revealed to be much bigger than most people could ever imagine. The visible part of the clitoris, often referred to as being the size of a pea or a fingertip, is only the tip of a much larger structure that continues internally, with two shafts measuring up to 10 cm and a huge amount of nerve endings. The TEDx talk: The Unknown Greatness of the Clitoris gives a perfect overview. This “discovery” also helped explain–again–how what once was considered to be a vaginal orgasm is actually an internal clitoral orgasm.
VULVAS ARE NIGHT CREATURES TOO
Just like men, women have erections during the night (more precisely during REM sleep). They are called “nocturnal clitoral tumescence” or NCT.