Most women don't know as much about their bodies as they should. In a recent study of 1,000 women, only a third were able to correctly label a diagram of the female anatomy. In fact, 56 percent of British women and 62 percent of American women were unable to identify the vagina.
What are we missing by not knowing basic facts about our bodies? Besides just knowing the correct terms, better understanding can lead to better care and health. There are products, like the Ava bracelet, that give individual insights on your body, cycle and fertility. Ava is dedicated to helping women understand their bodies and is the sponsor of this article.
Let's start with the basics. What really is your vagina? Often called the "birth canal," your vagina is actually the muscular tube that connects the cervix to the vulva. The vulva is the outer lips, which people mistakenly refer to as a vagina.
2. It can turn inside out
Vaginal prolapse is the condition in which the top of the vagina falls toward the vaginal opening, causing the walls to weaken and the vagina to protrude outside the vaginal opening - essentially turning the vagina inside out. It can be accompanied by symptoms such as bladder leakage, pelvic and back aches, urinary tract infection, and pain during intercourse.
Prolapse affects nearly half of all women throughout their lives, and usually occurs after a vaginal birth, hysterectomy, weight gain or menopause. While many women are uncomfortable talking about this condition, if this happens to you, you should definitely see a doctor.
3. Women can have erections
The clitoris is made of the same type of tissue as a penis. When a woman is aroused, the outer part of the clitoris becomes erect, the vaginal opening is engorged and the top of the vagina expands (possibly to twice its size), much like an erection.
4. You don't pee out of your vagina
To many people, this is obvious. Or is it? Let's just set the record straight: You pee out of your urethra, a tiny opening right below the clitoris.
5. Vaginal walls are pleated
The walls of your vagina are pleated so they can expand and contract as needed - like during childbirth or intercourse. Generally, the walls touch but if there's something inside (like a tampon) the walls expand to accommodate it. Because your vagina can expand and contract as needed, you don't have to worry about getting too stretched out.
6. It should smell like a vagina
Your vagina should smell like a vagina. So skip perfuming, cleaning and douching. Your vagina is actually very good at caring for itself and has bacteria that make sure everything stays clean. Perfumes and douches can be harmful to this process.
On the other hand, some scents signal something is off. If it smells like bread, fish, metal or just rotten, you should see a doctor to make sure everything's all right down there.
7. You can't lose anything in it
It can be terrifying to feel like something is trapped in your vagina, but good news: nothing can actually get lost up there. The vaginal walls are enclosed and open up into the uterus, none of which is attached to any other piece of your body. So if something is stuck inside, don't panic, it won't go anywhere. Relax, then push as if you are having a bowel movement and attempt to retrieve it with your fingers. (NEVER use anything else such as tweezers or pliers to get it.) If you are unable to retrieve it on your own, visit a doctor.
8. There are only six days a woman can actually get pregnant
Simply having unprotected sex doesn't mean you'll get pregnant. As you know, in order to get pregnant, an egg needs to be fertilized by a sperm. What you may not know is that there are only six days in a woman's period where this is possible. On the first day of ovulation, an egg is released into a fallopian tube. After it's been released, the egg lives for 24 hours unless it's fertilized by a sperm. Since sperm can live for up to five days after intercourse, any sex within those five days can lead to conception.
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