The vagina is a complex organ that seems to baffle many men, and even some women.
It’s a masterpiece of biology and evolution, and learning about it might feel a little overwhelming at first. But don't despair. Welcome to The Vagina Guide 101, which will cover the ins and outs of lady parts.
Quick anatomy lesson of the eternal genitalia (aka the outside)
This may sound clinical, but it’s helpful to first understand the basic anatomy.
The vagina is an elastic organ composed of a muscular canal that connects the cervix and uterus to the outer female genitalia, or vulva. While this whole region is often called the vagina, the vagina is really only the canal that is penetrated during vaginal sex. The vulva—labia, clitoris, vaginal opening and urethra—makes up the outer portion of the female genitalia.
The labia are folds of skin surrounding the opening to the vaginal canal. There are two parts of them: the labia majora and the labia minora. Labia majora is the outer lips that surround the vagina. The labia minora are the smaller lips starting around the clitoral hood and end at the vagina opening.
The clitoris is found where the labia meet at the top of the vulva (called the glans), and extends internally. The glans varies in shape and size and is covered by the clitoral hood. The clitoris also swells when a female is aroused. It also has thousands—yes, thousands—of nerve endings, making it very sensitive. This is one of the key spots that allows women to reach orgasm during sexual intercourse.
The opening to the urethra is found just below the clitoris. It is the small opening through which urine is passed from the body.
The opening to the vagina is just below the urethral opening and leads into the vaginal canal. This is the site of insertion for sexual intercourse. The area can be sensitive for women, some of whom can orgasm solely through vaginal penetration.
The mysterious G-spot is accessed through the vaginal canal but is technically part of the clitoris. While scientists disagree on whether it exists, many people believe it plays a role in helping women achieve orgasm during penetrative vaginal sex.
Even though the anus is not part of the vulva, it is still integral in female genitalia. Like the clitoris, it has many nerve endings and is very sensitive.
The mons pubis is a fleshy area above the vulva that is naturally covered in pubic hair (if not removed) and protects the pubic bone.
Internal reproductive organs
The ovaries are where the hormones like estrogen are produced. This triggers menstruation, as well as holding the eggs, and releases at least one each month for fertilization. This process is called "ovulation." Women have two ovaries on both sides of their lower abdomen.
In addition to having two ovaries, women have two fallopian tubes that are attached to the ovaries and extend to the uterus. The egg that is waiting to be fertilized passes through the fallopian tubes.
The uterus, also known as the womb, is located right between the bladder and the rectum.
Connecting the uterus to the vagina is the cervix. The cervix does not let menstrual blood out and sperm in. This is the same part that dilates during pregnancy.
Functions of the vagina
Biological functions of the vagina include its role in reproduction (receiving the penis during sex), childbirth (passing a child from the uterus to the outside world) and menstruation (the conduit for blood when the outer wall of the uterus is shed monthly).
A number of medical issues can affect the vagina: sexually transmitted infections (STIs), other bacterial infections, noninfectious conditions, such as vaginal prolapse after childbirth, and cancer.
Like the rest of our body, the vagina ages and, due to changing hormones, can experience problems with dryness.
The vagina has its own built-in cleaning mechanism: natural vaginal discharge. The glands inside a woman’s vagina and cervix actually produce discharge that pushes old cells out and cleans the canals. Because vaginas are self-cleaning, douching is not recommended, as this can offset a vagina’s natural pH. When the natural PH is thrown off it can cause vaginal yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. Just sit back and let your vagina do the cleaning for you.
How to make the vagina happy
Researchers tell us that as few as 6 percent of women orgasm from vaginal penetration alone, according to some published reports, so a woman’s sensitive spots can be essential to help them climax. Try clitoral stimulation with or without vaginal or anal penetration. Be creative with what you use: fingers, mouth or toys (like vibrators). Try to find her G-spot by inserting a finger into her vagina and making the “come hither” motion, or you can use toys that are specially made for this little sweet spot.
If you’re unsure whether she likes something, ask. Any woman will be thrilled by your interest.