Getting to know your vulva

Your vulva. For most people, it’s like your next-door neighbour. You know where it lives, you’re aware it’s there, you sometimes come in contact with it whilst taking the rubbish out but you’ve never opened the door, gone inside and had a smoothie with it!

So, grab a mirror so you can properly see all your parts, take your knickers off and repeat after me “oh hey there Vulva, I know babe, it’s been way too long but let’s finally get acquainted”

So, the vulva is the external part of the female genitalia. We start with the mons pubis – the fatty mass that covers the pubic bone. We then come down to the labia majora – the outer lips, the inner lips are the labia minora. These parts come in all different shapes and sizes and 13 years of being a midwife I have seen them all but I’ll let you in on a few secrets.

1. I’ve never remembered a vulva to a face!

2. Things going into and out of the vagina do so regardless of what this looks like.

3. If your partner doesn’t like your lips, get a new partner, not new lips.

You then have the clitoris. Now, women, this is the only body part on a body that is purely for pleasure. It has no other function. Men don’t have a body part purely for pleasure. I see it as our reward button for all the pain associated with reproducing! The clitoris also has twice as many nerve endings as the penis does (8000 compared to 4000). So, what are we waiting for? Stop underusing your clitoris. It’s the easiest form of the four orgasms possible to achieve. Don’t care about orgasms? Neither did I until I had one and then I wanted to make up for lost time! Get onto it if you haven’t had one. Ok, I digress, that little yellow spot always gets me side-tracked.

Next, we have the first of three openings in the pelvic floor. The urethra. This is connected to your bladder and its where urine comes out. A fact I wasn’t aware of until I was about 18. I think I was sick that day in Year 9 PE where we learnt this.

We then have the vaginal opening, the ‘in and out’ hole, its where the blood comes out when we menstruate, and we are meant to menstruate, every month so please stop skipping those periods! It's where 2 out of 3 babies in Australia are born from and its where things go in for pleasure and to reproduce.

The perineum – this is the skin between the vagina and the anus. The average length is 3.9cm but just like everything, this varies for everyone. The measurement is taken from the end of the vaginal opening to the centre of the anus orifice.

The pelvic floor muscles support the structures of the vulva.

The vulva also includes pubic hair. Women talk a lot about losing their dignity during childbirth and whilst your care provider should do everything they can to create a safe birthing environment, where you feel listened to and your wishes are respected. Having pubic hair actually means there is a lot we can’t see. When there is no hair there, everything is out for the world to see. When hair is present, your body and baby are not only protected a little more, as the hair is a protective mechanism, we can’t see much! So, women, bring back the bush!

There you have it – your vulva! Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in another post!