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Is My Vagina Normal?

Made you look.
What should my vulva look like?

 


It’s time to take a good hard look at yourself. No, we don’t mean replaying that time when your uniform got caught in your underwear in middle school again or winning hypothetical arguments in the shower. (Guilty, but not ashamed.) 


We’re talking about taking an exploratory look between your legs to view your genitals in all their glory. Our sexual and reproductive parts are simultaneously the center for pleasure, pain, and quite literally new life. As such, changes in the way our vulvas and vaginas look, smell, and feel throughout different life stages like puberty, pregnancy, and perimenopause are completely normal. 


No two vulvas or vaginas smell, feel, or look the same. 


While comparing your genitalia to a partner, friend, or performer in porn isn’t constructive, it’s important to understand the difference between your vulva and vagina, learning the proper names for your sexual and reproductive anatomy, and familiarizing yourself with what’s normal for you so you have the vocabulary and knowledge to express your pain or pleasure to your partner/s and healthcare providers.

 

Consider checking in on your vulva as a simple form of self care that helps you not only connect with your body, but accept where it’s at without judgement or fear. Only you know what’s normal for your body, so grab a mirror, wash your hands, and let’s dive in!

 

 

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Wait, there’s a difference between my vulva and vagina?

Yep. Chances are you’ve heard most people refer to your genitalia as “vagina.” But everything you can see, like the inner and outer labia, clitoris (a tiny organ situated above the vaginal opening), to the actual vaginal opening comprises the vulva, or your external genitalia. The vulva also includes the urethral opening (where you pee), fourchette (the fork shaped fold of skin where the labia meet), perineum (the region between the anus and vaginal opening), anus, and the mons pubis (the area above the labia where pubic hair generally grows). 

The vagina itself is the internal anatomy — the tubular pathway to the cervix connecting the uterus to the vulva. It’s a muscular canal through which uterine lining is released during menstruation, babies can be born, and tampons (or a menstrual cup), fingers, and other vaginal-safe sex toys enter and exit. 

 

Vaginal Anatomy 101

Vulva anatomy illustration

 

 

 

Okay, so what should my vulva look like? 

First off, let’s make it clear that your vulva — yes, your size, your shape, and your color — is normal and it goes through natural changes from puberty to menopause and beyond that are, again, normal. Just like your vaginal scent, every vulva is unique to the individual. 

 

 

Vulva Size & Shape

From egg shaped, oblong and cylindrical, or lopsided, everyone’s vulvar anatomy is unique, varying in size, shape, color, and symmetry. You know the old adage ‘your eyebrows are sisters, not twins?” Well, your labia lips aren’t twins either, but they are related. The one thing they have in common? They’re yours.


​​The outer lips of the vulva, referred to as the labia majora, are longer in some people, shorter in others. The may hang low, or lopsided, and the skin may feel thin, or they may be thick and puffy. The outer lips may cover the inner lips and clitoris entirely, or the may curve to meet at the ends, exposing some or all of the inner lips, or labia minora. Typically, the inner lips are at least somewhat visible, and one may hang lower than the other. 


MindBodyGreen sectioned out nine common vulva shapes, but remember, these are more or less average silhouettes, and if yours doesn't fit the description, no need to worry, be embarrassed, or concerned! Check out the LabiaLibrary for a plethora of pics showing how unique vulvar anatomy really is. 


 


Vulva Color​​

Vulvas come in a rainbow of colors, ranging from burgundy to pink to red to wine. The color can also vary depending on which life stage your in, depending on hormones and blood flow. During arousal, the flow of blood to your pubic area increases, and the vulva may appear purplish.


Keep in mind that if your vulva changes in color and appears red or purple, and is accompanied with other symptoms like irregular discharge and is  itchy, it may be a sign of yeast infection.

 



LEARN MORE  How to Tell if You Have A UTI, BV, or Yeast Infection


 

What Should My Vagina Look Like? 

Now that we’ve reviewed the vulva, let’s dive a little deeper and go inward. An average adult vagina is tubular with ridges throughout the walls that expand and contract, similar to an accordion. It’s slightly curved, and imaging studies reveal that most vaginas are narrower toward the vaginal opening and wider toward the cervix. This usually forms a “V” shape, although the width at the widest point can vary.

 

 

Average Vaginal Size 

On average, vagina size can range between 7 to 12 cm or 2.5 to 5 inches or more in length — but remember, every body is different, and there's no such thing as "too small" or "too big.Can we please get rid of those “tight” or “loose” stereotypes like, yesterday? 

 


 


Other Vaginal Characteristics 

The size and color of your vagina is strongly influenced by hormonal changes throughout the body throughout life stages like puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. In fact, your vagina even changes in size and color when you’re aroused because of the increased blood flow to your pubic region. As blood rushes to your pubic area when aroused, your vulva may darken in color.


In fact, your vagina has been evolutionarily designed to stretch to accommodate penetration. Muscular tension, referred to as vaginal tenting, draws the uterus upward to create more space in the vagina, and can nearly double in size from .5 to 2 inches. 


​​If you’ve recently given birth (congrats!), the vagina may seem wider, or looser because the vaginal tissues had to expand to make room for the baby to pass through the birth canal, and it may or may not return to it’s pre-pregnancy size. 


Once you begin peri/menopause, your body produces less estrogen, which reduces blood flow to the vagina, often causing vaginal tissue to become thinner, drier, and less elastic. Another reminder that these changes have nothing to do with how often you had penetrative sex, or how many people you slept with. 

 

 


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What else should I look for?

Another thing you should keep an eye on is any changes in scent, color, and amount of moisture, or discharge from the vaginal opening. Vaginal discharge is normal and necessary to help maintain a healthy vaginal environment. Basically, discharge is the fluid secreted from tiny glands in the vagina and cervix that helps remove old cells and debris to keep your vaginal pH in balance


Discharge can come in a myriad of colors, scents, viscosities, and amounts, most of which are normal and, yes, even good for you! Of course, any abnormal changes in these attributes could also indicate a vulvovaginal health issue like BV or a yeast infection, so be mindful of any sudden or long-term changes that may be irregular for you

 

 

Decode Your Vaginal Discharge

Vaginal Discharge Color Wheel

 




 

 What if I do notice a change? 

If you do notice a change in your vulva’s appearance, don’t panic, or feel embarrassed! There's a lot of shame surrounding vulvovaginal health that’s been ingrained in us from an early age due to a lack of scientific, unbiased sexual education. If you’re concerned about a new spot, lump, or not sure if that red bump is an ingrown hair or something more, schedule an appointment with your doctor. And remember — once you begin menstruating, you should schedule an annual appointment with your gynecologist to regularly screen for any issues you may not notice yourself, STIs, birth control, etc. 


The more you look, the more you’ll familiarize yourself with your body, know about our genitals and how to care for them. It’s empowering to educate yourself about your body, know what’s normal for you, and note any concerns — you might catch something small that helps prevent a larger health issue in the future. 

 

 

 

 

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Related Reading 

How to Give Yourself A Self Breast Exam

Confessions of a Big Boobed Woman 

The Historical Significance & Etymology of the Vagina 

Vagina is Not A Dirty Word

What the Color of Your Period Blood Can Tell You About Your Health

YSK: How to Prepare for Your OB/GYN Appointment

Making Sense of Your Vaginal Scents: 10 Common Vaginal Smells & What Mean

 

 

 

 

Momotaro Apotheca and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. 
All material on Momotaro Apotheca is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition.

 

 

 

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