5 Insecurities Women STILL Have About their Vagina
From that first wide-eyed glimpse of our lady bits (usually as teenagers, squatting over a hand-mirror) we’ve all worried that our vagina is not quite the same as everyone else’s. And if it isn’t the appearance of our vagina that worries us – it’s everything else; its smell, its itchiness, its relentless staining of our undies – everything!
With so many taboos and stigmas shrouding women’s bodies and bodily functions, we’re still not asking the questions that bother us. Well, we say it’s time for some vag-ucation! Consider INTIMINA your vagina-spirit-guide, here to answer 5 of the most common concerns women have about their lady bits.
Appearance: Is my vagina normal?
By far the biggest and most overriding concern for women is whether or not their vagina, or rather, their vulva, looks normal. The answer is no, no it doesn’t – and that’s because there is no normal!
In a study conducted by the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 50 women had the entirety of their internal and external vagina and vulva measured with a resounding conclusion that, ‘women vary widely in genital dimensions’.
Despite the nip-and-tucked look so predominant in the media (read: porn), the reality is that the vulva and its labia majora and minora can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. As the above study reports, “[w]ith conspicuous availability of pornography in everyday life, women and their sexual partners are increasingly exposed to idealized, highly selective images of the female genital anatomy”, when in fact, around half of all women have a labia minora that is longer than their labia majora, and virtually no vulva is totally symmetrical.
So before you go worrying about your vulva’s appearance or even apologizing for it (yes, that happens), check out this awesome gallery of vulvas and labias that display them in all their glory and infinite variety.
Smell: My vagina always smells weird!
You and me both, sister! But seriously, no vagina smells like a spring meadow or a bouquet of roses, no matter how much you shower or spritz yourself with perfume (stop that, by the way.) Why? Well because your vagina is busy maintaining its awesome natural ecosystem of good bacteria and pH-maintaining discharge which can give off a slightly musky but very much healthy odor.
Gynecologists report that a normal, healthy vagina can be smelled from 1 foot away, however if you’ve had a particularly vigorous gym sesh, your aroma may have piqued a little. During your period, you may also experience an unpleasant odor as a result of menstrual blood oxidizing on your pad or tampon. This can be avoided by using a menstrual cup as they create an air-tight seal with the vaginal walls, collecting menstrual fluid instead of absorbing it.
Moral of the story? Smell is only something to worry about if it is particularly pungent or accompanied by burning, itching or an abnormal discharge, in which case you should get checked out by your doctor.
Comfort: My vagina is often super itchy – why?
Lots and lots of reasons. So many, in fact, that we had to compile them into a whole article of their own, “Why Do I Have Such an Itchy Vagina?”. Ultimately though, the most common reason for being itchy down there is hormones and yes, it’s totally normal.
During your menstrual cycle, hormones progesterone and estrogen are low in the days preceding your period as your body declares, ‘Nope, not pregnant!” When these hormones are low, the walls of the vaginal canal thin and become inflamed causing an itchy, burning sensation. This can occur as long as 10 days before your period begins and can last well into your period too.
To minimize itchiness, ditch those skin tight jeans and latex catsuits for more loose fitting clothing and avoid absorbent period protection that compromises your natural moisture.
If you feel like you’re literally itching ALL the time, it’s disrupting your daily life or is coupled with other troubling symptoms – go see that doctor.
Discharge: My underwear is RARELY totally clean
Can’t remember the last time your undies didn’t have some sort of stain? Guess what? We’re all in the same, discharge-surfing boat.
As mentioned before, the vagina operates a pretty tight ship, balancing a delicate ecosystem of good bacteria that keep us happy and healthy below the belt. This involves maintaining an optimum pH of 4.5 and a sophisticated self-cleaning system performed by natural secretions, ie. discharge!
Discharge changes in appearance throughout the menstrual cycle but is usually either white or colorless and doesn’t usually have any odor. If you notice a drastic change in the appearance or smell of your discharge, your body might be trying to tell you something. Check out our article, “What is Normal Vaginal Discharge?” for more info.
Sex: Sometimes it’s actually painful and I find it hard to orgasm
Although sex has a reputation for being delightful from start to finish, the reality is not always so with many women experiencing literal burning loins rather than the figurative kind.
Discomfort or pain during sex is most likely due to a lack of vaginal lubrication. This can occur when there has not been enough foreplay, you are anxious or are not relaxed enough.
It’s important to remember that when it comes to sex and getting turned on, your brain plays a huge role in setting the perfect psychological and physiological environment. If you’re thinking too much or not focusing enough at the task at hand, your brain is going to lose interest and not help you get to where you want to go. It’s always a good idea to let a lubricant or feminine moisturizer in on the action to make things more comfortable and enjoyable.
If you find that reaching orgasm is always out of reach, you may consider giving your clitoris that bit more attention or try bringing a personal massager into the bedroom for some extra stimulation. For more info and useful tips, check out our article, “8 Reasons You’re Not Orgasming During Sex”.
Insecurities related to our vaginas, our bodies and our sex lives are usually a result of misinformation and sometimes just misunderstandings. If we spend more time talking openly about our bodies than worrying about them, we’d realize that a lot of what we think is abnormal is, in actual fact, totally natural and healthy.
Please note that advice offered by Intimina may not be relevant to your individual case. For specific concerns regarding your health, always consult your physician or other licensed medical practitioners
A collective group of “lady experts” at Intimina who love sharing our personal experiences, even when they are a little too personal. We believe it’s time to start breaking down the taboos around menstruation, motherhood, and menopause, and start owning our female health.