The Vagina

Published by Rédac Teemix
Published on 29 April 2008

It’s one of the most well known parts of the female genitalia yet, because it’s invisible, it's the butt of many a joke by both men and women. What does it do? What role does it play in our sex lives? Here’s a little recap to help you understand and get to know your body.

It’s one of the most well known parts of the female genitalia yet, because it’s invisible, it's the butt of many a joke by both men and women. What does it do? What role does it play in our sex lives? Here’s a little recap to help you understand and get to know your body.

Anatomy
The vagina is often confused with the vulva, which is the external part of the genitals. The vagina is an internal, hollow organ that opens at the level of the vulva and its lips, and ends at the cervix. It measures an average 8cm in length. Near the vulva it is narrow, and it widens towards the end. Note that the vagina is closed because its two inner walls come together. Only a very narrow opening at the entrance of the uterus allows blood to flow out (during menstruation) and sperm to enter. It’s not a vertical tube, it’s more of a curved shape, slightly slanted on the lower part and almost horizontal on the upper part.

How is it made?
The vaginal walls are very elastic to allow for penetration of the penis, whatever its size. During childbirth its elasticity is stretched to the maximum. Numerous muscles surround the vagina, as well as a mucous membrane rich in blood vessels but with few nerve endings (except at the vulva), so two thirds of the vagina is fairly insensitve to pain.

The hymen
The hymen separates the vagina from the vulva. The symbol of virginity, the hymen is a fold of mucous of different shapes and thicknesses (usually at least 1mm thick). It can be stretched by some forms of exercise and through the use of tampons. The hymen usually breaks the first time a woman has sex, which causes the bleeding that is sometimes experienced.

Vaginal flora
This term refers to the bacterial population located in the liquid that covers the vaginal walls. These bacteria play an essential protective role. They keep the interior of the vagina at an acidic pH level, which prevents the development of complaints like thrush. Cleaning the interior of the vagina can kill these protective bacteria.

Sexual intercourse
During sex, the vagina is engorged with blood and produces secretions when sexually aroused. In the run-up to orgasm, the vagina reduces in volume (around 30%) and the muscles contract in a jerky way. Some woman can contract their vaginal muscles at will to give their partner more pleasure, constricting around his penis. These contractions are also found near the uterus and facilitate the passage of sperm.

Vaginal orgasms: the lowdown
Clitoral or vaginal? The debate has been going on forever! Today it seems out of date, in the sense that both the clitoris and vagina play an important role in orgasm. If the clitoris is considered as the starting point of orgasm, the vagina is an effector (an organ that becomes active in response to nerve impulses) so a clitoral orgasm is always vaginal.
What is a pure vaginal orgasm? It can be provoked by stimulating only the vagina and not the clitoris. It is very rare and can mean that those who experience this type of orgasm have an insensitive clitoris.
The famous G spot is located around 6cm from the vulva, towards the front of the vagina. Some positions allow for more pressure of the penis against the G spot. During intense orgasm, a clear liquid can be expulsed by the urethra (not by the vagina). This is what we call female ejaculation or squirting.

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