I know it can suck sometimes, but having a vagina is a true blessing. They are AMAZING. What can a penis do? Pffffft, NOTHING. Just hangs there, looking all penis-like. Vaginas, on the other hand, are wondrous and magical. But there are so many misconceptions about the vagina, even among those of us who have one. Here’s everything you need to know about your vagina, from what it looks like to how it smells. Buckle up, this is a ride.

The vagina is just one part of your nethers. There’s a lot happening down there.

vaginas

Image: iStock/Hank Grebe

Most of us refer to the entire organ as the vagina, but in actuality, the term only describes the narrow canal that runs through your body from the vulva (the outer part of female genitals). The vulva is made up of the labia minora, labia majora, and clitoris.

Vaginas come in all shapes, sizes, and colors! And none of them are wrong or weird.

On the inside, we all look basically the same. But the outside is sort of like a fingerprint: no two are the same! The clitoris can measure between 2.5 to 4.5 millimeters. The labia can vary in size as well. The outer labia can be very small and thin, or a few inches long. The inner labia can be completely hidden, or hang down past the outer lips.

As far as color goes, guess what? Everyone’s is going to look different in that regard, too! The color of the skin on your body isn’t going to necessarily determine the color of your labia. Light-skinned women can have dark, purplish labia. Dark-skinned women can have lighter, pinkish labia. We’re not talking the carpets matching the drapes here.

Your vagina has a smell, and it is lovely.

comedy central smell GIF by Broad City

Image: Giphy

Every single vagina has a smell. Every. Single. One. Think of it as your own personal scent! It can get stronger during your cycle, after exercise (thanks, sweat glands), or during and after sex. It is normal, and the only time you should be concerned about the smell of your vagina is if it gets unpleasant and is accompanied by unusual discharge. You do not need “feminine sprays” or scented pads or tampons. Let your vagina smell exactly the way it is supposed to smell.

Your vagina is self-cleaning, because it magical as fuck.

Image: Giphy

Those vagina cleaning fads are wholly unnecessary and even dangerous. You don’t fuck with perfection, and your vagina needs no help in keeping itself so fresh and so clean (clean). There is no reason to use douche or any kind of soap inside of your vagina. In fact, doing so can seriously fuck up your pH balance and cause all kinds of problems. Vaginal discharge performs a function, and it flushes our vaginal wall cells, excess water, and bacteria. But do take care of your vulva, and wash your labia and perineum with a gentle, mild soap and water.

Not all vaginas have hymens! So take that bullshit “virgin test” and shove it.

Some women aren’t even born with a hymen, and in those who have them, it can vary in thickness. Hymens can also be broken through a variety of physical activity. So bleeding after the first time doesn’t happen for everyone, and is no one a test of one’s purity.

Vaginas are pleated and can stretch out and shrink back down to size. And no, they don’t get “floppy” after too much sex.

Think of the walls of your vagina like a beautiful pleated skirt. They will expand to fit tampons or menstrual cups or penises of all sizes (so don’t let some shitstick tell you they stretched you out, eye-roll). I mean, think about it: your vagina can fit an entire baby human on its way out. So a dick ain’t gonna do much.

You can’t “revirginize” yourself after a dry spell.

true blood hbo GIF

Image: Giphy

Your hymen will not grow back. And while your vaginal muscles may tighten and be tense at first, remember: beautiful pleated skirt. They’ll open just as they should.

There’s also this fad of doctors giving women a “husband stitch” to make that first postpartum sex feel like the first time. If your husband asks for this, kick him in the goddamn dick. If your doctor offers this, kick him or her in the throat.

You can’t “lose” something in your vagina. But it can certainly slip out of reach.

It’s not a cavernous black hole, your cervix is there to block anything from actually getting lost. But can tampons or … other things wander off for a bit? Yep, it happens. Squatting and bearing down usually helps it find the light so you can fish it out. But if you don’t have any luck, you doc can help.

You will have different discharged based on where you are in your cycle.

Your vagina produces a lot of discharge (normal!) and it will change throughout the month (also normal!). During ovulation, it will be clear and sticky (like snot), and will get thicker and creamier before your period. The only time you should be worried is if it itches or burns, has a foul odor, or looks like cottage cheese.

Vaginas are perfect, just the way they are. Like you! Learn about yours, so you can learn to love yours.

(Image: iStock/Darunechka)