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Debunking vagina myths

By Iris Pase // BBC The Social contributor // 6 May 2021

Most (cis) women have a complicated relationship with their vagina, let’s be honest. It’s almost like that super-shy cousin who lives next to your house. You see each other all the time but interactions are inevitably awkward.

In everyday life, this awkwardness translates into anxieties and insecurities which make us feel inadequate, as if there was an ideal vagina we should all strive for. This is partly due to the culture and society that we are immersed in. Campaigners have been fighting for decades for a fairer representation of women in the beauty industry.

Vagina Myths Debunked | Pillow Talks

Iris debunks some vagina myths...

There are so many different takes on what vaginas should look like: loose, tight, odourless, with scented hair or hairless. We don’t even have the time to check if we know what’s important when it comes to them.

If you’ve ever wondered how long your vagina is, I can tell you that the answer is roughly 3 inches

For this reason, I decided to lead you through some of the most common misconceptions about vaginas. Let’s go and debunk some vagina myths!

That’s Not Your Vagina

The most common vagina myth is actually its very name. What we normally call “vagina”, meaning the outside of our genitalia, where our clothes touch the skin, it’s actually the vulva! The vulva is made of the opening of the vagina, the inner and outer lips (labia) and the clitoris.

The vagina is is a fibromuscular tube that connects the vulva to the cervix and is therefore located inside our body. If you’ve ever wondered how long your vagina is, I can tell you that the answer is roughly 3 inches.

The "Loose" Vagina

Most (cis) women have a complicated relationship with their vagina, let’s be honest. It’s almost like that super-shy cousin who lives next to your house. You see each other all the time but interactions are inevitably awkward.

According to the myth, if a woman has intercourse with multiple sexual partners, her vagina will become increasingly larger. If you look into it, however, you’ll discover that this ridiculous tale is rarely applied to monogamous, partnered women. Mmm, I wonder why...

The myth of the loose vagina has a long history. It’s been widely used to shame women for their sex lives but it isn’t based on facts. Vaginas are incredibly stretchy, there’s no way that our bodies can make a human being but can’t resist penetration.

In fact, arousal causes vaginas to expand in size to accommodate intercourse but they will naturally just shrink back to their usual size right afterwards. Only age and childbirth can cause some slight loosening, but even then it’s nothing like the scaremongering we hear.

No Such Thing As a Normal Vagina

Did you know that some women are so worried about the appearance of their vulvas that they avoid getting smear tests? As I mentioned above, advertising, films, books, and the beauty industry have been telling us for years how our vaginas should look for us to feel confident, beautiful, and cool.

So, when our genitalia doesn’t fit the expectations, we feel shame. According to a BBC report, girls as young as nine are resorting to vaginal surgery because they feel like their genitalia is ugly and not “up to standards”. This situation is particularly dangerous as it can cause women to neglect their health for fear of other people’s judgements.

When in doubt, trust the numerous gynaecologists from all over the world who say that there’s no normal vagina – they naturally vary in size, colour or shape.

Vaginal Discharge is Also Normal

Okay, this is probably one of the main issues I have with the misinformation around women’s bodies. How come so many women are shamed for having discharge? Rolling up panties and hiding them, feeling like a thief in the night for something that, I can assure you, is completely normal.

There should be absolutely no stigma or shame around the occurrence of discharge. It is totally normal and healthy to have vaginal secretions. They actually vary significantly depending on the time of your monthly cycle.

You might want to consult your GP only if you see an important change in your usual discharge (quantity or colour, for example).

Don’t get me wrong, I am no expert but I have been through it all, be it feeling ashamed of my body or going down internet rabbit holes to check whether I was normal. What I can safely say to you is that vaginas are all different. There is no magic trick to achieve a “Queen V” and what works for some women may not work for you. Your best chance to be happy and comfortable in your body is to get acquainted with it, learn how it works and what feels good to you.

Vagina myths are dangerous in that they’re spreading lies about our bodies can affect our mental and sexual health. So, let’s try and get rid of them! Read more sexual health books and if you feel that something is not right, visit one or even multiple doctors.