June is Adult Sex Education month.
It seems logical to assume that at our age we know all about sex and our own bodies. But many women don’t know enough about their ‘lady parts’. Our vaginal health takes on greater importance as we age. It can be helpful, and maybe even fun, to learn a few facts about our vaginas and vulvas.
- The clitoris and the penis both start out as a little bundle of tissues. They both have a covering; the clitoris has a hood, the penis has a foreskin. As ‘sex’ chromosomes begin to shape embryos the organs begin to differentiate themselves.
- The clitoris has more nerve endings and is larger than the penis. While the penis has other jobs to do, the clitoris is designed purely for pleasure—with over 8000 nerve endings. (Drawing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clitoris )
- Our clitoris grows as we age. “After menopause the clitoris could be nearly 7 times larger than it was at birth, and 2.5 times larger than it was at the age of 19.” (www.the-Clitoris.com, great article with many photos of vulvas and clitoris-NSFW)
- What we see with our mirrors is our vulva—the external organs. When my granddaughter talked about a potato chip looking like a vagina (and got a warning from the school for using inappropriate language), she had her terms mixed up. The vagina is internal. “The vulva has many major and minor anatomical structures, including the labia majora, mons pubis, labia minora, clitoris, bulb of vestibule, vulval vestibule, greater and lesser vestibular glands, and the opening of the vagina (introitus).” (Wikipedia)
- Our vaginas are about 3 to 4 inches long. The average penis is between 5 and 6 inches long. Because vaginas stretch they can accommodate a larger penis without damage and return to their natural size.
- The healthy vagina has an odor that is perfectly natural. Intense odor may indicate a possible yeast infection, dehydration or excess consumption of some vitamins. Foods we eat can change the way our vaginas smell. If you’re concerned see your gynecologist.
- The vagina naturally cleans itself through secretions.It is not necessary, or even healthy, to douche or use feminine hygiene products All you need to do is use soap on the external parts of your body. Using a douche may disturb your body’s pH balance and lead to redness and irritation.
- Some women ejaculate when having G-spot orgasms. Most of us don’t. The milky substance, thought to be ejaculate, is a combination of secretions from the paraurethral glands that chemically resemble prostate secretions in men. Psychology Today
- Vaginal dryness can be a byproduct of stress, medications, and other factors, including:
- The menopausal changes in estrogen which may lead to thinning of the vaginal tissues.
- Insufficient arousal, which can happen at any stage of life, means that vaginal lubrication isn’t being produced leading to irritation or friction during intercourse.
- Irritants in soaps, laundry detergent, scented toilet paper or lubricants are causing a reaction on vaginal/ genital tissues.
The first step is to make sure you’re not having an allergic reaction or sensitivity to dyes or additives. You can buy a natural or organic lubricant and apply it to your vulva, a sex toy, his penis and apply a little inside your vagina before sex. Lubricants can be water-based, silicone-based or oil-based. Oil- or silicone-based lubes will feel more silky and last longer.
Do not use silicone products when using silicone sex toys or condoms as they break down the materials. Organic coconut oil from the grocery store is a great all-purpose product that works well as a lubricant. If these suggestions don’t help it’s time to talk to the gynecologist.
If you want to read a little more about your ‘lady parts’ these websites provide good, factual information on vaginal health: