Embracing Vaginal Diversity: Understanding the Different Types of Vaginas
As a person with a vagina, you might have wondered if your anatomy is normal. You may have even felt self-conscious about the appearance of your vagina, which is not uncommon. However, it's important to understand that there is no "one normal" when it comes to vaginas. In fact, vaginas come in different shapes, sizes, and colours, and these differences are nothing to be ashamed of. Working with the beauty of your own body and cultivating pleasure, wellness and love sometimes requires active connection practices, here are 5 practices for self connection.
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Anatomy of the Vagina
To better understand vaginal diversity, let's first explore the anatomy of the vagina. The vagina is an elastic muscular tube that connects the cervix and the vulva. It has a pH that is slightly acidic, which helps to protect against infections. The outer part of the vagina is called the vulva, which includes the labia majora, labia minora, clitoris, and vaginal opening. The labia majora are the outer lips, while the labia minora are the inner lips. The clitoris is a highly sensitive organ located at the top of the vulva.
In some cultures, and indeed in modern conscious communities, the vagina, vulva and womb space are known as “Yoni”. Yoni is a Sanskrit word that has been adopted by modern spiritual folk. Check out our blog about “A turned on yoni…”
Types of Vaginas
Vaginas come in different shapes and sizes.
The International Journal of Women's Health published a study in 2015 that identified five distinct categories of vaginal shape. While there is no standard way to classify vaginas, here are the categories the study identified:
- Rounded: This shape is characterized by a short vaginal canal and a rounded opening.
- Parallel-sided: This shape has a longer vaginal canal and a straight opening.
- Heart-shaped: This shape has a wider, heart-shaped opening and a shorter vaginal canal.
- Slug-shaped: This shape is characterized by a longer vaginal canal and a narrow, slit-like opening.
- Pumpkin-seed-shaped: This shape has a wider vaginal canal and a narrow, crescent-shaped opening.
It's important to note that these categories are not meant to be definitive or exhaustive. Every person's anatomy is unique, beautiful and can vary in many different ways. The purpose of this study was to provide a framework for understanding and discussing the diversity of vaginal anatomy and that by acknowledging and celebrating this diversity, we can help dispel myths and misconceptions about what is "normal" or "typical" when it comes to vaginal appearance and function.
Another incredible resource for developing a more intimate and nuanced relationship with your vagina is the book, “The Sexual Practices of Quodoushka” by Amara Charles
And it goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway, it’s important to note that these terms are not medical and should not be used to shame or judge someone's anatomy.
Anatomy of the Vagina
- Labia majora: These are the outer lips of the vulva, and they can vary in size, shape, and color. They can be large or small, plump or thin, and may be asymmetrical. It's common for the labia minora (inner lips) to protrude beyond the labia majora.
- Labia minora: These are the inner lips of the vulva and can be longer or shorter. They can also vary in color and shape, with some being thin and delicate, while others are thicker and more prominent. In some people, the labia minora can extend beyond the labia majora and can be seen when standing or sitting.
- Clitoris: This is a highly sensitive organ located at the top of the vulva, above the vaginal opening. It can vary in size and shape and can be hidden or visible. Many people experience ecstatic pleasure and orgasm through stimulation of the clitoris
- Vaginal opening: This is the entry point to the vagina and can vary in size and shape. Some people may have a more prominent hymen, while others may have a more open vaginal opening.
- Hymen: This is a thin membrane that can partially or fully cover the vaginal opening. It can vary in thickness and shape and can be stretched or torn during sexual or physical activity.
- Cervix: The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It serves as a pathway for menstrual blood and is an important part of the female reproductive system. The cervix can also be a part of the vagina that can hold unfelt emotions as well as erotic pleasure.
Common Questions About Vaginas
Do vaginas all look the same?
No, vaginas come in different shapes, sizes, and colours.
Should I be worried if my labia minora are longer than my labia majora?
No, having longer labia minora is perfectly normal and does not indicate any health problems.
Do all women have a hymen?
No, not all women have a hymen. The hymen can also vary in shape and size.
Can I have an orgasm from vaginal penetration alone?
It's possible, but many people need clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm. Each person’s body responds differently, your erotic blueprint holds more information for your turn ons.
Is it normal to have hair around the vagina?
Yes, it's completely normal to have hair around the vagina. Hair serves as a protective barrier and helps regulate temperature and moisture.
Is it normal to have discharge?
Yes, it's normal to have discharge. Discharge helps to clean the vagina and keeps it healthy.
Can vaginal size change over time?
Yes, the vaginal size can change over time due to factors such as childbirth, ageing, and hormonal changes.
Myths and Misconceptions About the Vagina
Vaginas are often shrouded in mystery and misunderstanding, leading to a host of myths and misconceptions that persist to this day. It's time to set the record straight and address some of the most common falsehoods surrounding the female genitalia.
One of the most prevalent myths is that all vaginas look the same. This couldn't be further from the truth. Vaginas come in all shapes and sizes, with variations in labia size and shape, clitoral hood length, and vaginal opening placement. In fact, a 2018 study published in the International Journal of Women's Health found that there are at least five distinct categories of vaginal shape. It's important to celebrate and embrace this diversity, as there is no "normal" or "correct" way for a vagina to look.
Another myth is that a woman's vagina becomes "loose" after having multiple sexual partners or giving birth. This is simply not true. The vagina is designed to stretch and contract, allowing for childbirth and sexual pleasure. However, the vagina does not permanently stretch or become "loose" from sexual activity or childbirth. In fact, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that there was no significant correlation between vaginal laxity and number of sexual partners, childbirth, or age.
It's also important to dispel the myth that a woman needs to douche or use scented products to maintain vaginal health. In reality, the vagina is self-cleaning and does not require any special products or treatments to maintain its health. In fact, using douches or scented products can disrupt the natural pH balance of the vagina and lead to bacterial or fungal infections.
Embrace Vaginal Diversity
Understanding the different types of vaginas is an important step in embracing and celebrating vaginal diversity. It's important to remember that there is no one "normal" and that every vagina is unique and beautiful in its own way. By embracing and celebrating this diversity, we can promote a healthier and more positive view of our bodies and our sexuality.
One of the best ways to have a more positive view of our bodies is to cultivate pleasure within ourselves. Try these practices and let us know how they transformed your relationship to your body.
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- Wolf, N. (2012). Vagina: A New Biography. Ecco.
- Matsilah, E. (2018). Orgasm Unleashed: Your Guide to Pleasure, Healing, and Power. Sounds True.
- Orenstein, P. (2017). Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape. Harper.
- The International Journal of Women's Health (2015)