Leading intimate health specialist Dr Shirin Lakhani shared the facts with Cosmopolitan UK - from how deep your vagina really is, to whether sex actually makes it stretch...
1. The average vagina is around 7cm deep
Which... doesn't sound like a lot. Some quick maths here tells us that that's only a few inches, and it's highly likely that anyone who's had sex with a penis, or used a dildo, has had something bigger than that inside her vagina. But, as it turns out, that's because it's basically a tube, which gets bigger when you're turned on - kind of like an inverse penis. FASCINATING.
"Everyone comes in different shapes and sizes, so the depth of the vagina varies greatly from person to person," explains Dr Shirin. "The average depth of the vagina is about 7-8cm, but it does elongate during stimulation. Due to its elastic nature it can stretch to accommodate any size penis."
2. Your labia - or lips - are both different
"No vagina is the same. There is no one right way for a vulva (female genitalia) to look, which also means that there’s no such thing as a perfect one.
"The labia, or lips - which vary from person to person - seem to be under the greatest scrutiny by my patients. The fact is that the two lips of the vulva are not identical on the same person. Just as our two eyes are not the same size, our ears, breasts, and lips of our labia are neither identical nor symmetrical.’
3. Pubic hair isn't really meant to be removed - and it may fall out one day
"Intimate grooming is a matter of personal choice, however, it should be remembered that the hair has a protective function.
"Everyone’s hair is genetically programmed to grow to different lengths and the same applies to pubic hair. When hair stops growing in its active phase, it enters a resting phase then falls out."
4. Using super tampons towards the end of your period could harm your vagina
That dry feeling that you get when you remove a tampon at the end of your period could actually be your body's way of trying to tell you something.
"Using super absorbent tampons with a light flow may cause the mucous membrane of the vagina to dry out, leading to abrasions on removal. It is always best to use the lightest absorbency tampon for your flow."
5. Tampons can get "lost", but a doctor will be able to remove them
It is possible for you to lose a tampon inside your vagina, but if you seek medical help straight away it should be fine.
"A tampon - or any other foreign body for that matter - can become lodged high up in the vagina between the upper vaginal wall and the cervix, and may need a speculum examination to remove it.
"It is important not to forget to remove a tampon due to the potential risk of toxic shock syndrome."
6. Your vagina gets wetter than you think during sex
And not just when you initially get turned on. "Your vaginal entrance boasts a gland (called Bartholin's gland, fact fans) on either side that secretes a tiny amount of fluid, just before you orgasm. This is in addition to the lubrication that happens when you're aroused, which comes from deeper inside the vagina."
7. Your vagina ages
Yep, just like the rest of your body, you can expect your vagina to change in appearance as you get older.
"Changes in hormonal levels also influence this. We lose volume in our labia majora (the outer lips), and loss of collagen and elastin make the vaginal tissues thinner. Hormonal changes contribute to the thinning and also cause a reduction in lubrication leading to dryness, tearing and pain on intercourse. We also become more prone to infections and incontinence.
'There are many effective treatments available which can help counteract these changes such as HRT (bioidentical and conventional), Platelet Rich Plasma, Hyaluronic acid injections and energy based devices such as the ultrafemme 360 (radiofrequency)."
However, it's worth pointing out that it's also totally okay to just let your vagina age naturally.
8. It can stretch a lot
I mean, duh - it births a baby. But, interestingly, your vagina won't always change dramatically after birth. "The vagina is an incredibly elastic organ that is designed to accommodate different sizes and return to its baseline shape afterwards.
"It can grow in size to accommodate a penis or a baby, then contract afterwards."
9. Having sex with a big penis will make your vagina stretch...
If you've ever wondered if having a lot of sex, sleeping with someone with a big penis or using a large dildo will make you "looser", the answer is actually yes. Temporarily, at least.
"Women who have had a partner with a particularly large penis or used large sex toys will find their vagina adapts to future sexual activity. The biggest difference will be due to noticing less friction when changing partner afterwards.
"Ageing and vaginal deliveries will have a much greater effect on the elastin and collagen in the vaginal wall, though. "
10. ...But it won’t permanently change
Turns out, the vagina is a pretty resilient thing - and it’s likely to return to its usual size eventually.
"It’s pretty impossible for sex alone to permanently stretch the vagina. However, in some cases, although your vagina may not expand for good, you may experience some soreness or small tears after sex which can be an illustration that the skin has stretched too much.
"While this isn’t something concerned about, if you’re suffering with discomfort every time you have sex, it’s probably a good idea to reach out to your GP or a healthcare professional specialising in intimate health."
11. Washing with scented products is bad for the vagina
Yeah, even if you want to be really clean.
"I think that one of the worst things that we can do to our vaginas that is widely believed to be helpful is to use perfumed products for cleansing.
"The vagina is a self-cleaning organ and it doesn’t need anything to be done to assist it in the cleaning process. By over-cleansing with perfumed products or douching, you can disrupt the delicate balance of balance which helps to maintain its health.
"This leads to infections, the most common being bacterial vaginosis."
If you're worried about your vagina for any reason, don’t ignore it and see your GP or health care professional.
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