It’s already hit the stores. That explosion of pink and red, chocolate and stuffed animals, flowers and jewelry—all to celebrate Valentine’s Day (V-Day).
Whether you usually celebrate Valentine’s Day with flowers, cards, a romantic dinner or by adopting a sloth (apparently this is a real thing), or even going out with the girls (hello, Galentine’s Day!), we’re giving you a new reason to celebrate this year: your V.
Ladies, it’s time we say it—out loud—without shame. Vagina.
Gasp. Shock. Sharp inhale. Staggering exhale.
Yes, I just wrote that word. Crazy, right? We are so apprehensive to talk about our own anatomy and to call it by its proper name. When was the last time you talked about your vagina? Was it with some friends, behind closed doors? Maybe with your gynecologist?
It’s okay to say the word vagina. In fact, this year, we are not just saying it’s okay, we are going to celebrate your V for V-Day!
We are dedicating the whole month of February to vaginal health and wellness. We’ll be answering the questions you don’t always feel comfortable asking your doctor, addressing the common vagina issues, and giving you the latest tips and tricks for intimate care.
Because you deserve to know and celebrate your V.
What is a vagina?
Most women don’t really know what their vagina is. Sure, Tyra Banks and a few other celebrities have told us to take a mirror “down there” and check it out. But for those of us that have done it, do we know what we are looking at?
Your vagina is a muscular canal (also called the birth canal) inside your body that connects to your uterus. The outer part of the vagina has folds of skin called labia major, and labia minora. These are like the lips of the vagina, they protect the opening to cervix, which leads to the vagina.
“People think the vagina is a tube that’s always open, but it’s not. It’s a muscle that, when at rest, is closed,”Dr. Melanie, a certified sexuality educator and sexuality education consultant, told Teen Vouge. “The walls touch unless there’s a tampon or a finger or whatever inside. So it’s not like you’re walking around with an open hole in your body.”
Your vagina is also elastic and soft, with flexible lining to provide lubrication and sensation, according to WebMD. It’s about 3-6 inches long, and less than 1 inch in diameter, but it can change shape during sex and childbirth. Now most of us understand why it changes during childbirth—it’s where the baby makes its grand exit—but why would the vagina change shape during sex? It becomes dilated when you are aroused.
Dilation isn’t just a term for childbirth, it’s also for sex. When a woman is aroused, blood flows to her vagina, making it bigger.
“This causes the vagina and genitopelvic area to become enlarged, which is known as vaginal tenting,” Dr. Krychman, M.D., gynecologist and executive director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health, told Redbook magazine. Dr. Krychman goes on to explain that blood flow to your vagina can cause it to even change color.
Makes sense doesn’t it? If you turn upside down blood starts to flow to your head, making your face change color. Only when it comes to your vagina, the extra blood flow and color change usually leads to a more sensational feeling. Extra blood flow + contact of the vaginal wall (think traditional penetration), can sometimes lead to a vaginal orgasm.
Last, but certainly not least, the vagina is made up of collagen—yes, like the collagen in your face. The collagen fibers in your vagina help maintain its elasticity and tone for sexual satisfaction. Overtime, the fibers breakdown, leading to a feeling of looseness (vaginal laxity) that can cause bladder leakage (urinary incontinence) and reduced sexual sensation. (We’ll dive into these vaginal issues more next week).
Every woman is different and unique, and every vagina is unique. Our vaginas change and adapt, but like every part of the body, it needs checkups, and it needs help.
Over the month of February, we’ll be talking about more topics related to the vagina, so you can be empowered and educated about celebrating your V.
Why does your vagina matter?
Women have had vaginas since the dawn of time. We’ve also been giving birth, having sex, going through menopause, causing physical changes, since the dawn of time. Our vagina is an important part of our anatomy.
And yet, there still aren’t many articles about vaginal care, nor is there enough research on women’s intimate health. Our vaginas are too often butt of derogatory or slanderous comments or seen as just a political stance.
Celebrating your V-Day is about taking back your V, getting to know your V, and normalizing the vagina and vaginal issues. Because guess what? 50 % of the world is female, so we all know there are lots of Vs out there.