We’ve all likely experienced frustration, loneliness, and boredom while social distancing. Some of us have baked a. lot. of bread. Or maybe you’ve finally taken up watercoloring or have been zooming through your Goodreads 2020 challenge. Maybe you’re taking daily virtual yoga classes or learned a new skill—maybe you are reading this in your PJs at 4pm and let us remind you, that is also perfectly OK. But whatever your quarantine mentality has been, we have an idea for learning about something that doesn’t require ordering supplies on Amazon and that you certainly don’t need to get dressed for; quarantine is the perfect opportunity to get to know your new best friend—your vagina.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN: THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH YOUR VAGINA
Whether you blame the patriarchy, your mom, or your health teacher, many of us have some baggage to unpack when it comes to the education—or lack thereof—we received around our genitals and how they function. This lack of knowledge and understanding, combined with some seriously dangerous stereotypes and falsehoods perpetuated for decades, has led to many women feeling insecure about their vaginas. These insecurities, be it around smell, looks, shape, size, you name it, can lead women to avoid dedicating time to familiarizing themselves with their genitals. While we realize it’s difficult to ask you to undo years of conditioning, try your best to remember that vaginas come in all shapes, sizes, colors, etc.—and there’s nothing wrong with yours. So, stop asking questions like “what is my vagina supposed to look like?” and get to know the perfection that is your own—and one and only—vagina.
WHERE’S THE CLIT?
Raise your hand if part of your health education was learning about the clitoris? That’s what I thought. Women’s pleasure doesn’t seem to have room in anatomy curriculum, so let’s take a moment here to praise this amazing part of the vulva. While you may know the clitoris as the commonly pea-sized bit of flesh above the urethra, what you see accounts for a fifth or less of the entire structure. The remainder of the organ—which is actually about seven centimeters long—extends deep into the tissue of the vulva. It’s unknown if the clitoris serves a biological function other than pleasure, but we’re big fans of it for that alone. Social distancing and spending lots of time at home make now an excellent time to experiment with getting to know your clit, and how you might stimulate it to the point of orgasm.
THE MONS PUBIS
The mons pubis is the area of the vagina you see when you look in the mirror. It’s the inverted triangular area covered (or not!) with pubic hair. The mons pubis is made up of fatty tissue that pads and protects the pubic bone. This area also contains glands that begin secreting pheromones—substances involved in sexual attraction—during puberty.
THE VAGINAL OPENING
People often confuse the vulva with the vagina, but in fact the only part of your vagina you can see from the outside is the vaginal opening. The opening of the vagina is between the urethra and the anus. The vaginal opening is where blood exits the vagina during menstruation, where a baby exits during childbirth, and where a penis, finger, or toy enters during intercourse.
THE INNER & OUTER LABIA
The outer folds of the vulva are known as the outer labia. They are large, fleshy folds of tissue which are meant to protect and enclose the genitals. The inner labia, or labia minora, are inside of the outer labia, or labia majora. The inner labia are often pink in color due to the rich supply of blood vessels in the area. The labia minora are also full of nerve endings that provide sensation and lubrication during sex.
This diamond-shaped structure lies between the external genitalia and the anus. It acts as a tear-resistant body between the vagina and the anus. The perineum is one of the trickier parts of your body to see; you will likely need to lie on your back with legs wide and hold up a mirror to see this part of your body that lies between the inner thighs.
While not the vagina, the anus is a worthwhile part of the body to familiarize yourself with if you’re already exploring below the belt. The anus is the opening where the gastrointestinal tract ends and exits the body, and is the opening through which excrement passes once digested.
TRY DIFFERENT WAYS TO MASTURBATE
We know that all vaginas look differently, and it can also be said that what feels good to one vagina certainly doesn’t mean it will to another. But getting to know and understand your vagina better may also help you learn what feels best to you. While vaginal orgasm during penetration may be great for some, many women rely on clitoral stimulation to climax…and you may as well experiment with both! Toys are a great way to experiment, with or without a partner. Make an event of trying different ways to masturbate by finding a comfortable, private location while you have plenty of time on the calendar to let yourself go with the flow and find what feels good.
GROOM YOUR PUBLIC HAIR (IF YOU WANT!)
Well, we would mention the option to get an expert’s help here, but during quarantine, all we have are our own two hands. While some women are totally fine shaving their bikini lines or pubic hair, for others, this can result in itchy razor burn and painful ingrown hairs. Please remember that the way you groom your pubic hair is your choice and should never require pain! (Unless you love a full wax, in which case, more power to ya but that’s definitely going to smart!) Whether you don’t want scissors or tweezers anywhere near your private parts, you shave at the first sign of stubble, or you fall somewhere in between with light trims or bikini waxes, what you choose to do with your pubic hair is entirely up to you—there is no right or wrong way to love the way your vagina looks.
SAY SOMETHING NICE ABOUT YOUR VAGINA, EVEN IF IT FEELS SILLY
OK, this may feel silly but we’ve come this far and this part is important. Try looking in the mirror and complimenting your vagina. It can be about its appearance, the pleasure it brings you, the fact that it can BIRTH A HUMAN—anything that makes you feel proud of and connected to this part of your body.