Women may break through glass ceilings at work, handle a tire change like a pro or even beat the boys at an arm wrestling match thanks to all those hours at the gym but we’re often in the dark about the aspect of our anatomy that makes us exclusively female.
The good news is that you don’t have to be out of the loop any longer!
Think of the next few pages as your cheat sheet/mini tutorial on all things related to that amazing area that’s all about being a woman. Read through it and in no time, you’ll be scoring straight As in the Vaj Jay Jay 101 class.
Let the lesson, begin!
Function And Form
Let’s get something straight right from the start: the word vagina is often used to describe the entire area between a woman’s legs but that’s not accurate. Technically, the vagina is an internal structure that lies between the anal tract and the urethra.
The visible outer zone is actually called the vulva and its main function is to keep dirt and bacteria away from sensitive, internal reproductive organs.
To get into specifics, the outer ‘lips’ are known as the labia majora, which allows cushiony comfort during intercourse while the inner lips are labia minora and act as swivel gates that guard the entrance to the vagina and the bladder tube or urethra. Labia minora is far more sensitive than labia majora and has tiny blood vessels that become slightly stiff when a woman is aroused.
The Meaning Behind The Moisture
Moisture helps keep vagina tissue healthy. The clitoral hood or prepuce hides hundreds of tiny glands. These little glands are the reason why you sometimes find moisture in your panty liner or workout pants.
While it might feel uncomfortable, these glands are good for you because they secrete oil and sweat for protection against friction and overheating.
Sensing The Texture
The inner region of the vagina isn’t smooth. In fact, much like a great fashion collection, the vagina features multiple textures and forms.
For instance, the glands on the labia minora look like tiny pimples while the entrance to the vaginal zone has irregular skin, which gives it an interesting ruffled appearance.
Rugae might sound like an exotic dance but it’s actually the term that describes the texture inside the vagina, which is full of bumpy ridges.
Rugae is responsible for much of the vagina’s amazing ability to stretch and retract like a particularly skilled yoga enthusiast. It is the main reason why everything from teeny, tiny tampons to supersize babies are able to squeeze through the opening.
G Marks The Spot
This is the part of the class that explains the mechanics of the feminine zone and it’s also the bit that gets really interesting!
Let’s start with a topic that never fails to get everyone’s attention – the clitoris. This is the only part of the female body that does nothing but provide pleasure.
It’s a super sensitive zone, which features a hood that serves to protect. If it wasn’t for this extra layer of protection, even a pair of tight jeans would put a woman’s nervous system in a spin!
The clitoris is also connected to erectile tissue around the urethra where the famous G spot is sometimes known to make an appearance.
The G spot, which is named after Ernst Grafenberg, the German doctor who first reported it’s existence way back in 1950, is actually a coin-sized bit of tissue that appears when a woman is sexually aroused. It can also, sometimes, trigger orgasms.
Recent studies have likened the female G spot to the male prostrate gland, which is an established pleasure point in men. The G spot is said to be located inside the front of the vagina but for many women and their partners, finding the elusive G is akin to looking for a needle in a haystack.
Friends Not Foes
Think of bacteria and you instantly think of dirt, grime and other unmentionables so the fact that the vagina is home to trillions of bacteria may not sound like the best news. Surprisingly though, bacteria — at least the good kind living in the nether regions — are actually friends and not foes.
The vagina’s best bacterial friend is Lactobacillus – a good type of bacteria that fights off the bad ones like E.Coli.
Lactobacillus is also a great protector against yeast spores, which grow and cause uncomfortable, itchy infections.
It’s impossible to conduct a Va Jay Jay 101 class without discussing discharge. No matter how much we want to avoid thinking about it (it isn’t exactly the sort of thing that inspires art and literature), it’s important a woman knows as much as she can so she’ll understand what’s normal and what’s not.
Together, the vulva and the vagina secrete about two grams of vaginal discharge every 8 hours.
Colours range from clear, white or yellow while the texture can be fluid, waxy, stringy or clumpy. Discharge is basically a buildup of oil produced by the vulva, cervical mucus and healthy vaginal secretions.
After an ovulation cycle, discharge is generally thicker but thins out when a woman approaches her menstruation cycle. Discharge is normal in healthy women but watch for signs like bad smells or feelings of discomfort like itchiness. If these signs appear, it’s time to see a doctor.
If you’ve read our guide, all the way through, you’re now far more familiar with a very important part of the female body. It’s crucial for women to know as much as possible about how everything works to take better care of themselves.
That’s all for today and thank you for your attention. Class, dismissed!
Care And Maintenance
There are many aspects to keeping your lady zone in tip top condition – both from a health and aesthetic point of view. Dr. Premitha Damodaran, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynecologist at Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur, shares her expert opinion.
Visit Your Gynaecologist
Your gynecologist shouldn’t be a stranger. While having a doctor probe around down there might not sound like your cup of tea, it’s imperative that you get yourself checked regularly. “Just once a year is sufficient unless there is a problem or previous visits have indicated an issue that needs a follow up,” says Dr. Premitha.
Ideally, this annual checkup should include a pap smear. “A pap smear can pick up problems related to the cervix, mainly changes leading to cancer,”explains the experienced gynecologist adding that the pap smear can also detect infections such as candida and bacterial vaginosis. However, Dr. Premitha is quick to add that pap smears don’t shed light on every issue. “A pap smear does not give any clue to uterine and ovarian health so we should complement it with a pelvic ultrasound.”
It’s essential to keep your intimate area clean to avoid infections and odour. You’ll find many feminine cleansers that are specially designed for this but you should exercise caution if you choose to use these products.
“Don’t rely on vaginal cleansers as many women have very sensitive skin and regular use can cause vaginal dryness and infection in the long run. You should also refrain from washing the area with hot water as this can also cause dryness,” advises Dr. Premitha. She adds that she usually recommends very limited use of cleansers, if at all. “I usually advise against vaginal cleansers or tell women to use it only once a month, after a period.”
Keep It Neat And Trim
Hair growth around a woman’s vaginal zone is natural but not necessarily healthy or aesthetically pleasing. Overgrown pubic hair can trap heat, moisture and odour-causing bacteria so it’s best to have yourself trimmed at a reputable salon or do a DIY at home.
“Waxing is popular but with waxing the root of the hair follicle is exposed and if it is not done properly, these exposed roots are susceptible to infection and irritation,” says Dr. Premitha. “The best and safest way is to regularly trim the pubic hair around the vagina so as not to expose the roots. This is neat and clean and has the lowest risk of infection.”
Avoid Sugars and Carbs
Like the rest of the body, vaginal health has a lot do with what you eat. Carbohydrates and any sugar related foods are out and lots of water is always good. “Green leafy vegetables and fresh fruits are great too,” says Dr. Premitha.
A diet rich in yoghurt (which supplies good bacteria) is also highly recommended.
Va Jay Jay 101: Additional Notes
Here are some fascinating as well as essential Va Jay Jay facts to keep in mind:
- The vagina may be sensitive but it’s tough. It heals, from small scrapes or minor wounds, quickly.
- Never wear the same tampon for longer than 8 hours. This can encourage the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, which is a dangerous bacteria that can cause toxic shock syndrome.
- Avoid highly absorbent tampons except on heavy-flow days. Otherwise, you might end up damaging cells by drawing out too much fluid.
- The vagina is located at a tilt of 30 degrees from the opening.
- The hair that covers the pubic mound and outer labia grows in the escutcheon shape. Escutcheon is the Latin word for ornamental shield.