The hoo-ha. The cooter. The vajayjay. The cooch.
We refer to it by many names. The area that is more complicated than a Rubik's cube and puts fear in the eyes of men. And why not? Vaginas are beautiful, diverse, life-giving parts of a woman's body. We should feel powerful.
But how much do we know about these things that Georgia O'Keeffe thought so lovely to paint them as beautiful flowers? It's time we get well acquainted with this important part of our body.
Vagina is Latin for "sheath" or "sword holder." Just ruminate on that for a moment.
The clitoris has 8,000 nerve endings. That is double the amount of nerve endings found in the penis. It is the most sensitive part of a woman's erogenous zone, and sensations from this area can spread to affect 15,000 other nerve endings in the body. So much power from something so small. And while we are on the topic, it's the only part of a woman's body that's sole function is pleasure.
Sharks and vaginas? When aroused, women secrete a natural lubricant containing an organic compound called squalene. This substance also exists in a shark's liver. When squalene is harvested from a shark's liver, it is often added to skin creams where it acts as an emollient. Women and sharks against the world!
Your vagina will tell you when you are most fertile. Save money on an ovulation predictor kit and simply be more aware about what your body is telling you. Or, more accurately, what your mucus is telling you. When you are most fertile, your cervical mucus will be clear, stretchy and you will probably notice an increased amount of it!
Vaginas get erect, too! When things heat up, the erectile tissue located in the labia minora gets slightly stiffer. Unaroused, the vagina is about three inches deep; aroused, the vagina can expand to twice its size. Just like your favorite pair of jeans!
Nothing lost, everything gained. It is impossible to lose anything in your vagina. Unless you are giving birth, the opening to the uterus is too small for anything to pass through, and the cervical wall will block anything of size from going elsewhere. But, something getting stuck up there is a whole other can of worms... If you think your tampon may have migrated north a bit, just reach in and hunt around. You'll find it. And if you can't find it, whatever "it" is, go to your gyno! It's their job to help you out!
Honorable discharge. Normal, healthy women have discharge. The amount varies from so much discharge that some women need to wear panty liners, to hardly any at all. As long as there is no weird odor, itching or burning sensations, your discharge is completely normal.
Do not douche. Seriously. There is probably more bacteria in your mouth than in your vagina. Disgusting as it sounds, the vagina has colonies of microorganisms and bacteria to protect against microbes. Vaginal discharge acts as a cleaning agent for the vagina, and using feminine wipes or vaginal washes can throw your pH balance out of whack. This will increase your risk of yeast infections and urinary tract infections. Just let your body do its thing. If you do happen to get a yeast infection, eat yogurt that has active cultures in it! And/or see your gyno.
It is possible to be allergic to sperm. If you feel an itching or burning sensation after sex, and know it isn't an STI, it is possible that you are allergic to your partner's sperm. It is rare, but if you suspect this may be the case, see your gyno. Most frustrating is that a woman can be allergic to one partner's sperm but not another's.
Orgasms work wonders on your lady parts. When the big O happens, the muscular contractions help alleviate menstrual cramps. A Men's Health poll determined that 60 percent of men are very content with engaging in period sex. Because your hormones are basically doing the Tango when you're menstruating, your partner can blow your mind with little effort. And endorphins, the natural pain relievers, are released during an orgasm and can help cure headaches and other annoying pains.
Empowered yet? Each "goddess portal," as this Buzzfeed article calls it, has unique traits, but all are beautiful. Next time you are embarrassed about a smell or discharge, remember that you hold the most important power on this planet: to give life!