The vagina is one of the most important female organs, mainly due to its sexual functions and its role in childbirth. But many people do not know much about the vagina, and it remains a mystery that fascinates women as well as men equally.
The word ‘vagina’ comes from the Latin root meaning ‘sheath for a sword’. Most of us use the word to refer to the area ‘down there’.
But technically, the term vagina describes only the narrow canal that runs inside the female body from the vulva to the cervix. The vulva is the visible female private part that includes the inner and outer labia, clitoris and perineum. The cervix is the lower portion of the uterus.
The vagina is intriguing and there are many crucial facts about your vagina that you may not even be aware of.
Here are the top 10 things you probably didn’t know about your vagina.
1. It Can Expand Greatly
On average, a woman’s vagina is about 3 inches wide and 3.5 inches deep. However, it is not rigid. In fact, it can expand by up to 200 percent in size. Inside the vagina is a series of ridges produced by folds of the vagina that allow it to extend and stretch.
This expansion is what allows a 10-plus pound baby to come out, and healthy too!
After childbirth, the vagina returns to nearly its original shape. However, it may take about six months after delivery for the vagina to heal completely.
Also, during intercourse, the vagina expands two to three times its size.
2. It Needs Exercise
All women should do pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the pubococcygeus muscles of the pelvic floor.
This type of exercise can help a woman cope during childbirth, prevent urinary infections, and even increase orgasmic pleasure.
- To do pelvic floor exercises, you must first recognize the muscles you need to exercise by stopping urination in mid-stream. Make a mental note of the muscles that contract when you do this. Then, finish emptying your bladder.
- Lie down on your back.
- Slowly tense and relax these muscles, keeping 5-second intervals, and gradually increase the duration to 10 seconds.
- Repeat 3 times a day.
3. It’s Self-Cleaning
The vagina is basically a self-cleaning organ. It is lined by a variety of glands that produce fluids needed to both lubricate and cleanse the vaginal area. The fluids help flush out bad bacteria and maintain a healthy pH level.
This is one reason that doctors advise against douching and using soap, scented wipes, harsh cleansers or gels to clean the vagina. Such products can irritate the vagina and wash away the beneficial lubricants and flora. This in turn can lead to excessive discharge, a bad odor and itching.
You will be amazed to know that several cases of vaginal infections are self-induced by women who regularly douche and wash their vagina with soap to keep it clean.
4. Its pH Level is Similar to Wine
Just like your skin and scalp, your vagina also has a pH level. In normal circumstances, the vagina is acidic in nature, with a pH around 3.8 to 4.5. Wine and tomatoes have a similar pH level.
On the other hand, semen is basic, with a pH between 7.2 and 8. They work together to neutralize the environment in the vagina.
However, too much intercourse can upset the pH level in the vagina, which can lead to infections like bacterial vaginosis.
5. Its Mucus Changes During Ovulation
The vagina is a self-lubricating organ and the lubrication level is highly influenced by the monthly cycle.
The slippery fluid inside the vagina is nothing but cervical mucus that is secreted throughout the monthly cycle. However, during the time of ovulation, women are more likely to have a clear, rubbery and stretchy cervical mucus.
Women who do not use contraceptives must watch out for this pretty cool sign to know when it is the best time to conceive a child or abstain from intercourse, depending on your goal.
6. Age Affects the Vagina
Age can affect the appearance of your vagina, just like it does to your face, breasts and bottom.
With advancing age, breasts can get saggy. Somewhat similarly, pregnancy, childbirth, hormonal changes, genetics and years of gravity can weaken the supports of the female genital tract, which in turn causes sagging.
Also, the skin of the vulva may darken or lighten and the clitoris may shrink. These changes are mainly due to decreasing levels of estrogen after menopause.
To avoid sagging, you can try pelvic floor exercises, maintain a healthy body weight, avoid constipation and say no to smoking.