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7 Misconceptions Society is Telling You About Your Vagina


Throughout history, the vagina has been considered a mystery. There have always been myths surrounding it, such as the idea that some vaginas had teeth that could eat your penis or the belief that period blood is a true danger to men. Though those myths seem ridiculous now (well maybe not the second—cishet boys are afraid of tampons, after all), there is still a very prevalent stigma surrounding the vagina, accompanied by a variety of misconceptions. These misconceptions, often taught to us by society, the internet, or maybe even teachers or parents, can be very harmful to people with vaginas, so let’s debunk a few of them.

Vaginas smell funny.

The scent of your vagina should not be lavender or vanilla or any other scent a person with a penis might try to convince you it should. Vaginas have their own unique scent and taste, and the fact that they don’t smell like flowers or taste like fruit doesn’t make them dirty. You don’t need to eat pineapples or cranberries before intercourse, because your vagina—its scent included—is perfect the way that it is. (However, if it starts smelling different than normal, let your doctor know, because you could have an infection!)

Vaginas are dirty.

Following up on the last myth: just because your vagina doesn’t smell like flowers or taste like fruit doesn’t make it dirty. In fact, your vagina is quite clean! Your vagina cleans itself through vaginal discharge, which washes out the old cells and bacteria just hanging out up there. It is actually suggested that you let your vagina clean itself, as things like douching or scented soaps can offset the pH balance in your vagina, leading to funny odors or irritation. But if you really feel like you need to clean it, gently rinsing with hot water should do the trick.

Your vagina—and labia—should look a certain way.

Like people, the vagina comes in many different colors, shapes and sizes—especially the labia. The labia are those cute little lips your vagina has! Pornography has come to teach women, men and non-binary people alike that the vagina should be one small slit with a tiny clitoris and inner labia that don’t protrude. Pornography does not show us this, but the labia minora often protrudes or sticks out. In the past few years, an increasing amount of labiaplasties have taken place—surgery used to alter the shape or position of the labia in order to make it appear more “aesthetic”. The concept of a “designer” vagina or a way that the vagina is supposed to look is extremely toxic, and can make it hard for people to be comfortable with their genitals, especially their visible labia minora. But it’s totally normal to have visible inner labia, or for them to be “wrinkly” or a different color than light pink! (Don’t believe me? You can look at a ton of beautiful, normal labium here.)

You have a cherry that is “popped” the first time you have sex.

Forget everything that fanfiction or the internet has taught you about sex and your vagina. Your “cherry” is actually called your hymen, and it doesn’t “pop”, it stretches open. However, it is not guaranteed to stretch open the first time you have sex. Your hymen is thick at birth, but it gets thinner during adolescence and puberty, making it easier to stretch out, as it’s literally a thin membrane that covers a part of your vagina. You could go look in the mirror right now and you probably won’t see it, even if you’re a virgin. Why? Because it can be torn a billion different ways, not just by a penis. You can stretch open your hymen riding a bike, inserting a tampon, or even masturbating. So if your first time doesn’t hurt and you don’t bleed—around 60% of people with vaginas don’t—there’s nothing wrong with that. The whole concept of “cherry popping” is a social construct, used as a pathetic attempt to tell “virgins” from “non-virgins”. In reality, your hymen very well might’ve already been broken, so don’t sweat it.

The more sex you have, the looser your vagina gets.

This is my absolute least favorite myth, because—like the previous misconception—it is rooted in the idea that there is a way to tell “virgins” from “non-virgins”. People tend to think that people that have never had sex before have tighter vaginas, as the walls haven’t been stretched out, while sexually active people have looser vaginas from frequent use. Guess what! That’s not true. Your vagina’s resting state is naturally tight. When you’re sexually aroused it gets looser, and when you’re nervous or scared it gets even tighter than it normally is (which heavily contributes to the popularity of rape play as a kink and the desire to “take someone’s virginity”). So the vagina can stretch and then go back to its initial size, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, because babies come out of the vagina. However, it’s an extremely common misconception in our culture, and is commonly used to degrade promiscuous or sexually active people.

You should be able to orgasm from penis-in-vagina stimulation.

No one really knows how the female orgasm works. Like the vagina itself, it’s kind of a medical mystery. While there is no guaranteed way to achieve an orgasm, most people with vaginas cannot orgasm from P-I-V stimulation alone, because there aren’t very many nerve endings inside your vagina. However, your clitoris has around 8,000 nerve endings—twice as many as the penis! For a lot of people with vaginas, clitoral stimulation is the way to an orgasm. However,  you have to acknowledge that everyone’s body is different. Different vagina owners can get off in different ways, and some, unfortunately, will never get off—around 10% of people with vaginas will never experience an orgasm. To watch a quirky slam poem on the female orgasm, you can click here!

Everyone with a vagina is a woman.

This one should go without saying, but unfortunately, even though it is 2016, it doesn’t. Not everyone with a vagina is a woman! Surprise! Men, women, and non-binary people alike can and do have vaginas, so it’s probably time that we stop correlating gender with biological sex.

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