The vagina is the opening located directly below the urethral opening. Directly outside of the vaginal opening are the labia minor, the smooth inner lips of the vulva. Outside of the inner lips are the labia majora, the fleshier outer lips that are typically covered in hair after puberty.
The clitoris is a sensitive organ. Its function is to provide sexual pleasure. It is a hard round ‘button’ at the top of the vulva. The clitoral structure surrounds and extends into the vagina. It contains erectile tissue, very similar to the male penis. When a women gets sexually aroused, it engorges with blood. The clitoris is densely packed with nerve endings and, while similar in number to the penis, they are much more concentrated and closer together.
When a woman is sexually aroused, the vagina begins to produce lubrication to aid in penetration. Most vaginas are only four inches in length. At the top of the vagina is what feels like a semi-hard round ball. This is your cervix, the ‘neck’ of your uterus. In the middle of the cervix is a small round opening, called the external orifice that leads to the uterus. The external orifice is the small opening through which menstrual blood flows from the uterus into the vagina. This is the same small opening that expands during childbirth. This is also where cells for a pap smear will be taken to make sure they are healthy.
Keep in mind that the vagina is a ‘potential’ space. The walls of the vagina are normally in contact with each other. In other words, they are touching unless something is inserted between them; contrary to what most anatomy illustrations depict. The vagina isn’t a hole or cavity inside the body. When something enters the vagina, the body must make room for it, no matter how small or large it may be.
The vaginal walls are continually producing secretions necessary to provide lubrication, to cleanse the vagina and to maintain the proper acidity to prevent infection. The vagina tends to be fairly acidic, while sperm tends to be more of a base or alkaline. The vagina is a naturally self-cleansing body part, so douching isn’t necessary to keep the vagina clean. Some women chose to use a vinegar and water douche after the end of their period, but this is not necessary. Women who like to douche, however, should do so with unscented products.
Wash your vagina when you shower or bathe with a gentle soap or cleansing bar. Don’t overdo it or you can irritate the sensitive lining. Additional vaginal care products are not necessary unless you have a vaginal infection, such as a urinary tract infection.