10 Things You 100% Need To Know About The Female Reproductive System

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1. The vagina is only one part of the female reproductive system. Despite often being used to describe the entire reproductive system, the vagina is only the internal tube inside the body. On average, it is 4-6 inches long, which is the same length as the average penis, go figure.

2. The vagina is a muscle. It expands up to 200% when sexually aroused.

3. The vulva (not to be confused with a Volvo car) refers to the external anatomy. This includes the labia majora, labia minora, urethra, vaginal opening, clitoral hood, and clitoris. The vulva is often mistakenly referred to as the vagina by over 70% of women.

4. Females have two openings in their vulva. Menstrual blood and urine do not come out of the same hole. Menstruation is released from the vagina canal and urine comes out of the urethra.

5. The clitoris is the only body part that is there purely for pleasure. It serves no other purpose than to feel good when touched. It is the most sensitive body part and, because of this, everyone likes it touched differently (and some maybe not at all because it is so sensitive)! The clitoris has twice as many nerve endings as the entire penis.

6. Discharge is necessary (and normal). Discharge from the vagina naturally occurs throughout the month and is based on the ovulation cycle. Discharge varies in color and consistency and ranges from a clear and sticky fluid to a chunky egg-white mucus depending on where a person is at in their 28-day cycle.

7. Menstruation isn’t just your period. Menstruation occurs in four phases: follicular, ovulation, luteal, and the period. The follicular phase is when follicles in the ovaries mature and grow. The phase ends when the follicle bursts, leading to the ovulatory phase when an egg is released into the fallopian tubes. The luteal phase follows and the lining of the uterus begins to thicken. If pregnancy does not occur, the thick uterine lining sheds, leading to the final phase, menstruation.

8. The vagina cleans itself. To maintain a healthy pH balance, the vagina naturally flushes away bad bacteria, which comes out in the form of discharge. Therefore, you don’t need to use soap to clean the vagina. Doing so might actually change the pH balance and cause irritation or a yeast infection.

9. Vaginas smell. The vagina is not scent-free. It’s supposed to have a natural fishy odor. Don’t try to wash away the scent, it’ll kill that good bacteria mentioned above.

10. Vulvas are as unique as our faces. Just like our faces, we may all have the same parts (eyes, nose, lips) but they are shaped differently to make everyone unique and beautiful in their own way. The same is true of vulvas! Sometimes the vulva is tightly pursed together, sometimes one lip hangs lower than the other, and other times it’s expansive and flappy. Grab a mirror to see what yours looks like, but know what however it appears, it’s normal! TC mark

Kristen Lilla, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is the only AASECT Certified Sex Therapist and AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator in Nebraska.

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