Betties, raise your hand if you remember the totally awkward chapter in biology where you talked about reproductive organs? Now raise your hand if you actually remember all the details?
While we hope you do, we know a lot don’t. No worries, we’re here to give you a little extra tutorial!
Today we are diving right into the anatomy of the vulva. The vulva is a fancy word for the combination of all the external “down there” parts. Honestly, this can be confusing for a lot of Betties. Most people say “vagina” but what they’re actually talking about is the vulva. While we do cover the great vajayjay later in this post, there are several other organs to know. Read on to learn about all five of our “precious parts.”
LET’S BREAK IT DOWN
First up is our labia majora, aka the “bigger lips”
This nickname is super accurate, because the labia majora is the outermost ring of our vulva — the larger and more pronounced lips. Pubic hair grows there. The flesh is softer and thicker. It’s what makes a camel toe (aka our “front wedgie”).
Think of it like you’re layering up for a cold day. You put your sweater on, and then your down coat. The labia majora is the fluffy down coat.
Treat it well. The skin of the labia majora can become easily irritated. You can wash the outside portion of the labia majora with unscented soap and rinse with warm water. You can also moisturize the outside skin, but like the cleanser, use gentle and unscented products. If you choose to remove your pubic hair, make sure you follow all care instructions to avoid painful in-grown hairs and cuts. Oh, and make sure you change your undies after sweaty workouts.
Next, let’s get the inside scoop on those “little lips” of the labia minora
Moving inwards from the labia majora, the labia minora is the next fold of skin. TBH, the labia minora is probably the weirdest looking part of the vulva. It’s really, really thin skin. If you’re standing up, the folds of the labia minora typically meet in the middle to cover the urethra and the vaginal hole (we’ll look into them later, pun intended).
The space between the labia majora and the labia minora is kind of like a canyon or a narrow valley between the two “labia mountains”. It’s where a Betty may experience some buildup (or discharge), which is normal. But, how do you clean that buildup?
Discharge is a totally normal
outcome of your body cleaning itself!
We recommend rinsing with warm water. You may also want to use a mild, unscented soap — just pay attention to any irritation you may experience. The skin in that canyon area is more sensitive than that of the outside of the labia majora.
It’s time to talk pleasure…cue the clitoris!
Okay Betties, up next is our fav part of the vulva. Why? Well, the clitoris has just one purpose: pleasure. The clitoris, when stimulated (aka…touched in various ways), is how Betties are able to orgasm. If you’ve never had an orgasm and don’t know what that is, it’s an overwhelming, pleasurable sensation.
An orgasm is kind of a big deal when it comes to sex, which means the clitoris is a really big deal for sexually active vagina owners! You might be surprised to know that many, many Betties aren’t able to orgasm during sex unless there’s repetitive or continuous contact with the clitoris.
For some Betties, it can be difficult to locate the clitoris…but we’re here to help! Start by locating your labia minora (see above). Follow both sides of the labia minora to the front of your body where they meet, and you’ll soon arrive at a small button. This is the clitoris! Well, technically, it’s the tip of the clitoris which is called the glans clitoris. The clitoris is kind of like an iceberg in that just a little bit is exposed while the majority of it continues inside the body.
The glans, or the tip on the outside, is VERY sensitive, which is why there’s a little skin surrounding it, commonly called the clitoral hood. You can pull that skin forward just a little to fully expose the tip. Because it is so sensitive, make sure you’re gentle with it, and be sure to tell your partner to be gentle with it!
Have you heard of the hidden hole? Shhh…it’s the urethra
Guess what, Betties? You actually have 2 holes down there! For some of you, this may seem like common sense. But we know a lot of Betties who never had the chance to learn about their bodies, and it can be a little bit of a shock to find out there are actually two holes in the vulva.
So let’s talk about this “hidden hole,” aka the urethra. If you were able to find you clitoris you can now move straight backward and just inside the labia minora to discover the opening of the urethra. It’s super small, so probably not something you’ll be able to see unless you go exploring with a bright flashlight and maybe a magnifying glass (you do you, boo).
What can we say about this hidden hole? Well, it’s where your pee comes from! You see, the urethra is like a little spout that connects to your bladder. There are muscles around the urethra that prevent pee from entering the urethra from your bladder until you feel the urge to “go.”
Then, when you do go to the bathroom, those muscles relax and the pee flows from your bladder, through your urethra, out the opening to the urethra, and in the toilet (ya know, hopefully).
Pee does NOT come out of your vagina. The two holes are very close, so it’s no wonder it’s confusing!
Why does it matter? Knowing where your urethra is will remind you to wipe front to back. If you wipe back to front, you risk carrying bacteria from the anus and vagina up towards the urethra, which can cause an infection. But if you wipe front to back, you avoid that and can prevent infections. Look out Betties!
Finally, a Betty’s most celebrated organ: the vagina!
The vagina is a tubey, muscular organ that starts at the cervix (internal) and goes down and opens at the vulva (external). If you were able to find your clitoris, move backward a little further past the urethra and you’ll arrive at the only hole you can actually feel. That’s the opening to the vagina!
If you’re curious what the vagina feels like, you can insert a clean finger and press gently into the walls of the vagina. Don’t be shy, it’s your body! If you use tampons or menstrual cups or discs, you’ll do this anyway.
The vagina is like any other bodily hole — it’s a vessel where the body excretes (pushes out/leaks) bodily fluids like discharge, which comes from small glands at the opening of the vagina. And yes this is totally normal!
Now, we can’t talk about the vagina without doing a little sex ed. For heterosexual intercourse, the vagina is where the penis goes. And just FYI, the penis must be erect (aka hard) to actually go into the vagina.
Remember, the vagina is NOT the sum of all
your “down there” parts. That’s the vulva!
Okay, Betties, that’s a wrap on our vulva series (for now, at least)! Go grab a mirror and see if you can identify your parts! Remember, a Betty is a BOSS BABE who knows her body.