Let’s learn about our bodies!
The vulva is everything you see on the outside. This includes: the pubic hair, outer labia, inner labia, clitoris, clitoral hood, and vaginal opening. Colloquially, this part is known as the vagina but it’s proper name is the vulva (vuhl-vah).
In the diagram shown above, the girl is laying down with her legs and vaginal lips spread apart. When your legs are together, your vaginal opening is hidden between your outer and inner labia.
Let’s start our tour, starting at the top and working our way towards the vaginal opening.
Parts of the Vulva
Mons pubis (Mahns) or simply mons is the area above your pubic bone. It is a pad of fatty tissue covered with pubic hair and it serves as a cushion for a woman’s pubic area during intercourse.
The pubic hairs act as a barrier against germs and bacteria (kind of like what your nose hairs does for your nose and what your eyelashes does for your eyes). It also helps vaporize odors similar to what your armpit hairs do. Pubic hair also grows on your outer labia and some pubic hair leading to the anus. It is usually longer and fuller than what I have shown in this diagram. Every girl has pubic hair and it is completely normal and natural.
The anus isn’t part of the vulva but I wanted to show it so you get an idea of where everything is located. Notice how far away it is from the vulva.
Parts of the Vulva: Up Close
This is a close up view of the vulva. I know it looks like there are a lot of parts but I promise it’s not as confusing as it looks! Let’s go through each part in detail starting with the outer labia.
The outer labia (lay-bee-ah), also known as the outer lips, are the two folds of skin that extend down from the mons on either side of your vulva. Like the mons, it is also padded with fatty tissue and grows pubic hair.
Do you see how your outer labia opens to reveal your vulva and closes to hide everything when you put your legs together? That’s the purpose of the outer labia, to conceal and protect the vaginal opening.
The inner labia, also known as the inner lips, are the two thin folds of hairless skin in that lie between the outer labia and surround the vaginal opening. It’s purpose is to protect the vaginal opening.
Inner labia come in a huge variation of sizes, shape, asymmetry, and colour. Just think of how many different looking sets of eyes we see from person to person. There are as many different looking inner labia as there are different looking eyes.
Some inner labia are long and flappy, some stick out, and some are hidden inside the outer labia. Some are longer and some are shorter. They are all completely normal so don’t worry if yours doesn’t look like the diagram. (That’s like saying your face doesn’t look like this :-) smiley face!)
The vaginal opening
is the hole that leads to your vagina inside your body.
Your vaginal opening may not look like an open hole like it is in this diagram. That’s because the vaginal opening isn’t just an open hole you can see.
Think of your vaginal canal as a flattened muscular tube that can stretch to open up.
When you look at your vaginal opening, it probably looks like there is something blocking the opening. Your vaginal opening leads to the vaginal canal and what you see blocking your opening is just your vaginal canal in its relaxed state.
If you’re having trouble finding your vaginal opening, follow our tutorial: How to find your vaginal opening.
The hymen is a stretchy tissue that surrounds or partially covers the vaginal opening. It really doesn’t have a purpose except that it’s there.
The hymen can be torn by intercourse, exercise, self-exploration, and tampon insertion. But because the hymen is also capable of stretching so it can even remain in tact after the first instance of intercourse.
In many cultures, an intact or unbroken hymen is considered evidence of virginity. Since there are many activities that can tear your hymen, a torn hymen doesn’t mean you’ve lost your virginity. The only way to lose your virginity is to have sex.
The urethral opening is your pee hole. Unlike the vaginal opening, the urethral opening does not stretch. See how small it is? It is impossible to put a tampon in there.
The clitoral hood is a loose fold of skin that covers and protects the clitoris. You can retract or pull back your clitoral hood to reveal the clitoris. The clitoral hood retracts when you become sexually aroused or turned on.
The clitoris is a small but highly sensitive knob of tissue. It’s about the size of a pea and is jam packed with nerves making it highly sensitive. That’s why it has a clitoral hood to protect it. The sole purpose of the clitoris is to provide sexual pleasure.
Those are all the parts of the vulva! If you have any questions, post a comment below.
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