We often talk about ‘vaginas’ but evidence shows we know far too little about them. The most common terms used for the entire female’s sexual organ is vagina or pussy. What many of us (men and women alike) are really referring to with these terms is the ‘vulva’ and not the ‘vagina’.
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The vagina is the canal connecting the uterus with the outside world. It is down the vaginal canal that period blood flows to be eliminated from the body and the part of our body used in sexual intercourse. (Click here for 20 Things Every Woman Should Know About Her Vagina – so worth reading ;-))
Couples therapy & clinical sexologist, Antoinette Liechti Maccarone who is a qualified Psychologist-psychotherapist FSP and specialises in Imago therapy, always recommends her clients start appreciating this intimate of their body:
“It’s all about becoming friends with that part of our body, associating it with nice images like an orchid, a shell or a peach. When you introduce a little light in a lubricated vagina, it looks like a little cave filled with diamonds as the light shimmers on the little drops covering the walls of it. That’s way more poetic and appealing! Enjoy!”Antoinette Liechti Maccarone
The vulva (plural vulvas or vulvae; derived from Latin for wrapper or covering) is, in fact, the correct word for the entire external and internal anatomical sexual organs between your legs. The vulva includes the labia (major and minor lips), our well-known friend the clitoris (a bit more about this in the next paragraph), the urethra and the vagina. Although the different parts of the vulva are the same for every woman, the looks of it are entirely unique to every woman and continue to change over the course of our lifetime. Artist Hilde Atalanta, from the project Vulva Gallery, has managed to demonstrate the huge diversity and uniqueness of each vulva in the most wonderful way.
The clitoris appears like a little pea-sized button located above the urethral opening, but it is, in fact, more like an iceberg – far more extensive than we imagine. Clue, the period tracker, posted a fantastic blog on all the details around this exceptional part of the body. I can highly recommend reading it – a must for everyone wanting to understand how this part of the female body functions and why it is such a key part to our pleasure: https://helloclue.com/articles/cycle-a-z/what-is-the-clitoris
Between our legs, we have three orifices: the urethra, the vagina and the anus. The urethra is the duct used to transmit urine, while the vagina, as mentioned above, is responsible for releasing the menstrual blood and is also the opening used for sexual intercourse. The anus: “the opening where the gastrointestinal tract ends and exits the body”, which is not part of the vulva.
Why does terminology matter?
Understanding the body is the first step to being able to take care of it properly. If we know our body parts properly and know how they function, we will be better able to care for ourselves and more likely to try and fill any knowledge gaps to ensure the best health of our vulva. Your communication with your gynaecologist will also be much more relaxed and precise, ensuring your doctor can give you a proper diagnosis and treatment if necessary.
It’s all explained in this super easy to watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKjXU39hVMg
Humans consist of an estimated 10 trillion cells and carry about ten times as many bacteria in and on them – these even make up to about 2 kg of our body weight. The bacteria are harmless, and several are very important and useful for our well-being.
The vagina, in particular, is not a bacteria-free space: lactic acid bacteria (lactobacilli) live here. They provide an acidic environment (pH 4) and thus prevent pathogenic bacteria from spreading.
The more thorough the cleaning, the better? On the contrary – as a Canadian study shows: many women overdo the intimate hygiene. Of the 1400 women surveyed, 95% said that they used special products to clean and care for their vagina. These women were three times more prone to have vaginal infections than others.
The reason? Soaps and care products with a high pH value (soap has a pH value of 8 to 11) destroy the so-called vaginal flora and thus the protective acidic environment.
It is best to clean the intimate area with warm water only. If you want to use care products, make sure that they are only used externally and do not go inside the vaginal canal.
And what about panty liners? Pantyliners, particularly those made from synthetic materials provide a warm and humid climate in the genital area and thus bring the vaginal flora out of balance. Even without an infection, this can lead to strong discharge, itching and unpleasant odours. Panty liners should therefore only be used during menstruation and then changed frequently. Products containing plastic films are not recommended.”
That’s why using Mondays’ pantyliners, that are 100% organic cotton, are so much better for your vulva (and the planet).
Viva La Vulva
As part of our ongoing campaign to create more awareness around female sexuality and encourage positive body consciousness, we have partnered with ArtNight Zurich to host a special Vulva ArtNight with the artist Jana Chodonowitsch on International Women’s Day at Hiltl, Zürich. We will paint the beauty of the vulva, learn more about it, share our experiences and be proud of our body. There has been such a high response rate, that the event is sold out BUT (vulvashus news!) we have decided to host THREE further events, as listed below:
Come along and join us! As a special for our Mondays Changemakers, we have a discount code for you, valid until March 31st 2020 for any of the upcoming ArtNight events. Use Mondays@Vulva-ArtNight* at the ArtNights checkout and get CHF 3.- off the ticket price.
If you attend one of these events do please send us some pictures or tag us if you post on social. We always love to hear from you.