Last month, I finally finished my 20-city book tour to promote What's Up Down There? Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend (Woo-hoo! Trumpets blare! Cymbals crash! Phew). But i realized that I never posted a juicy post that I wrote in the fall at the beginning of the tour... and gals, is it a good one. Did you hear the story of how CBSNews.com asked me to write this post -- "15 Crazy Things About Vaginas" -- for their website on the launch day of my book? They had posted "15 Crazy Things About Sperm" and it was wildly popular. So they figured they'd play nice in the sandbox and give us girls our time in the limelight.
And then, after it had been up on their website for about an hour, some suit in corporate made them pull it.
You can read the whole crazy-making story here.
Anyway, I never did get around to posting what I wrote for them. So here you go.
15 things I bet you never knew about vajayjays.
It's amazing how much misinformation is out there about the vagina. Given how fascinated our society is with the female body, you'd think we'd be a little more informed. But from what I discovered while soliciting questions for my book What's Up Down There? Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend, many of us still have a lot to learn.
To help out, I've compiled a few things you may not know about the female genitalia.
- Pubic hair is not just a biological accident that forces us to the waxing salon. It serves three critical functions. First, it protects the delicate vagina. Second, it serves as a reproductive billboard to alert potential mates that you are biologically (if not emotionally) prepared to procreate. And last, it's a pheromone carpet and traps the scents that lead potential mates to the promised land. So you might think twice before you shave it all off. It's there for a reason. Embrace it.
- There are 8000 nerve endings in the clitoris, dedicated exclusively to female pleasure. The penis only has 4000. Who says God didn't take care of us girls?
- The average vagina is 3-4 inches long, but fear not if your guy is hung like a horse. The vagina can expand by 200% when sexually aroused, kind of like a balloon. Remember, the vagina was made to birth babies, so it's exceedingly elastic. If you have pain when getting it on with someone large, you can use dilators to help stretch the vagina so you can accommodate the whole package.
- The vagina doesn't connect to the lung. While the vagina can expand, it's not an open conduit to the abdominal cavity. While microscopic sperm can swim through a tiny hole in the cervix, a tampon simply won't fit. So if you lose something in there, don't worry. Reach in all the way and pull it out. Do not -- I repeat, do not -- go hunting for whatever you've lost with a pair of pliers. Think of your vagina as being like a sock. If you lose a banana in a sock...it stays in the sock.
- Yes, it's true -- your vagina can fall out. Not to belabor the sock metaphor, but it can turn inside out just like a worn out sweat sock and hang between your legs as you get older. But don't fret; this condition -- called pelvic prolapse -- can be fixed.
- Vaginas have something in common with sharks. Both contain squalene, a substance that exists in both shark livers and natural vaginal lubricant. (Cue music: "She's a maneater...")
- You can catch sexually transmitted diseases even if you use a condom. Sorry to break it to you, but the skin of the vulva can still touch infectious skin of the scrotum -- and BAM! Warts. Herpes. Molluscum contagiosum. Pubic lice. So pick your partners carefully.
- The average length of the labia minora is less than ¾ inch long (yes, someone got out a ruler and measured 2981 women). Only 1.8% of women have labia longer than 1 ½ inches. But remember, every vulva is different and special. Some lips hang down. Some are tucked up neatly inside. Some are long. Some are short. Some are even. Some aren't. All are beautiful. You're perfect just the way you are.
- While hair on your head can live up to seven years, pubic hair has a life expectancy of about three weeks, which is why it only grows so long. So don't worry if you opt not to groom your pubes -- you won't need to braid them any time soon.
- The word "vagina" comes from the Latin root meaning "sheath for a sword," which may explain why some women simply hate the word. So if you don't like the word "vagina," pick your own name for your girly parts. Just call it something and don't be afraid to talk about it.
- Only about 30% of women have orgasms from intercourse alone. The clitoris is where the action is. Most women who do orgasm during sex have figured out how to hit their sweet spot, either from positioning or from direct stimulation of the clitoris with fingers.
- Increasing evidence suggests that the G spot feels good because it lies right over a deep part of the clitoris. Although experts describe the G spot as being inside the vagina on the anterior wall, just under the urethra, the crura of the clitoris actually runs right there. And a recent study demonstrated that vaginal orgasms may actually be deep clitoral orgasms. But who cares? An orgasm is an orgasm. Appreciate it, regardless of where it comes from.
- Vaginal farts (some call them "queefs" or "varts") happen to almost all women at one time or another, especially during sex or other forms of exercise. So don't be embarrassed if your hooha lets out a toot. You're perfectly normal.
- Some women do ejaculate during orgasm, but you're normal if you don't. The controversial "female ejaculation" most likely represents two different phenomena. If it's a small amount of milky fluid, it likely comes from the paraurethral glands inside the urethra. If it's a cup, it's probably pee. Many times, it may be a little bit of both. But don't stress out about peeing on yourself. Put a towel under you and surrender to the experience.
- Safe sex (or even just orgasm alone) is good for you. Benefits include lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke, reducing your risk of breast cancer, bolstering your immune system, helping you sleep, making you appear more youthful, improving your fitness, regulating menstrual cycles, relieving menstrual cramps, helping with chronic pain, reducing the risk of depression, lowering stress levels, and improving self esteem. So go at it, girlfriends!
There you go. There you have it. It's important to know this kind of stuff, because you can't truly love all of yourself until you love and understand your girly parts. We talk about the eyeball or the elbow or the big toe. Why not talk about the vagina? Plus, the vagina is way more interesting than the pinky finger or the belly button. The vagina is the creator of life and the portal of pleasure. But it's also where we carry many traumas -- menstrual cramps, childbirth trauma, molestation, rape, abortion, and painful gynecological exams. If we don't release these traumas, they back up and manifest in a whole host of health conditions like depression and chronic pelvic pain. We must talk about our girly parts to liberate them.
The more we know, the more we're empowered to live life out loud, love fully, and really rock this life.
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So there you have it.
Can you believe that these 15 facts caused such a hullaballoo? What do you think? Did you learn anything new? Have any more fun vajayjay facts to share? What do you think about how "sperm trumps vagina" and that this article was pulled? (It still rattles me...)
I had such a great time on tour talking with women about their yonis, these sacred sources of vitality and power. Big hugs to everyone whom I met on tour, who has read What's Up Down There, and who continues to bring vaginas out of the closet!
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Pink Medicine Woman coach, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.