Eleven Interesting Facts About the Vagina

Thanks to the taboo that's always existed around female sexuality, the vagina remains one of those great unknowns - even to many women.
Eleven Interesting Facts About the Vagina

Last update: 30 July, 2022

The vagina is the key female sexual organ. However, in addition to its sexual function, it also plays an essential role in the body’s reproductive and hormonal systems. It has a mucus-like tissue that’s responsible for maintaining lubrication and a natural pH balance. This helps block the passage of infectious agents like viruses or harmful bacteria. In this article, we’re going to give you eleven interesting facts about the vagina.

Its walls are made up of fibro muscles. In addition to providing elasticity, they allow the vagina to carry out many of its main functions. The vagina also serves as an outlet for period blood and cervical mucus. Since it contains hundreds of nerve endings, it’s a center of pleasure and sexual arousal.

Many of the taboos and myths about the vagina’s functions have now been dispelled. That said, there are some interesting facts about the vagina that you might well be unaware of.

1. Its size changes when you orgasm

A woman having an orgasm.

The vagina is an elastic organ that expands during sexual intercourse. This is because blood is concentrated in the area to facilitate penetration. Its interior walls are composed of small folds that open up like umbrellas during intercourse.

However, when you’re approaching orgasm, its size decreases by up to 30 percent. That’s because the muscles of the vulva can contract abruptly.

2. It has self-cleaning abilities

Another interesting fact about the vagina and the area surrounding it is that it has bacterial flora that acts as a protective barrier. They fight against bacteria. According to recent research, lactobacilli abound in the vagina. They provide protection, along with various antibacterial substances such as cytokines and defensins.

The presence of a clear or white discharge is completely normal. Although for some it might be inconvenient, it’s necessary for the self-cleaning of this complex organ.

  • The use of perfumed soaps, deodorants, and other intimate hygiene products can cause alterations in the natural pH of the vagina. This can harm its proper functioning.
  • Vaginal douches aren’t recommended, since, contrary to what most people believe, they also alter the natural pH of the vagina and increase the risk of suffering from discomfort and infections.
  • To maintain good vaginal health, there’s no need to apply, under any circumstances, yogurt or any type of food as a ‘remedy’. On the other hand, it’s been proven that a balanced diet and the consumption of probiotic foods can be beneficial for overall health.
    • The only way that yogurt can provide benefits to vaginal health is through its ingestion within a balanced diet, not by applying it directly to the vulva.

If you have doubts about how to properly care for your vagina, consult your gynecologist, who’ll be able to give you the best advice.

3. Its muscles can be strengthened

A woman doing Kegel exercises.
Kegel exercises.

The muscles of the vagina can be toned and strengthened by regularly practicing exercises focused on the pelvic floor.

  • These activities help to reduce the risk of problems such as urinary incontinence, prolapse, and other conditions that may end up impairing quality of life.
  • It’s worth knowing that at least one in three women will experience dysfunction of their pelvic floor muscles by the time they reach menopause.
  • Kegel exercises and pelvic lifting and stretching are simple but effective ways to work on this part of the body.

4. The clitoris is a major source of pleasure

Now that we’ve done away with the many taboos on the subject, we know that the clitoris is the only human organ whose sole purpose is to give pleasure. In fact, the majority of female orgasms originate from the stimulation of this delicate organ.

The clitoris boasts more nerve endings than any other part of the body (approximately 8,000). It can measure between six and twelve centimeters long and six centimeters wide, extending up inside the body. Some studies confirm that the clitoris has a complex anatomy. It’s made up of internal erectile tissue and an external part called the glans.

5. Sex can help you maintain a healthy vagina

Having sex regularly is one of the healthiest ways to exercise the delicate muscles of this organ. On the other hand, prolonged periods of abstinence will make the internal tissues of the vagina become brittle. This decreases their flexibility and their capacity to self-lubricate.

As a matter of fact, for some women, going without sex for long periods can lead the muscles to contract more than normal. This can make penetration painful in the future.

This article may interest you: Before and After Oral Sex Hygiene Tips

6. The vagina can prolapse

There’s a condition known as vaginal prolapse. This occurs when the uterus, Fallopian tubes, and vagina collapse, and protrude through the vaginal opening. This puts intense pressure on the vaginal area.

It most commonly occurs following childbirth due to the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles or because of surgical interventions that compromise the womb. It requires immediate attention, and medical help is required to put it right and avoid complications.

7. It’s more sensitive after giving birth

A mother with her newborn.

After giving birth, all women naturally need some time to recover before starting to have sex again. Although the muscles gradually return to their normal size, it’s probably a good idea to wait between four and six months after childbirth to have penetrative sex.

This is because the pH of the vaginal flora takes a while to regain its balance. Until this happens, there’s an increased risk of contracting bacterial or yeast infections.

During this period, it’s also essential to avoid consuming alcohol or too much sugar. Tight underwear should also be avoided.

8. You can’t lose a tampon in your vagina

Despite the many stories that abound on the Internet on this topic, it’s impossible to lose a tampon in the vagina. The external cervical orifice, an opening at the top of it, is too narrow to allow such objects to pass through.

However, tampons can sometimes get stuck and be hard to remove. In these cases, it’s best to seek medical assistance as soon as possible to avoid an infection.

9. It has a substance in common with sharks

The vagina contains squalene, an intermediate in cholesterol synthesis that can also be found in the liver of sharks.  In the vagina, it works as a lubricant.

10. Your diet affects the smell of your vagina

We mentioned earlier that the consumption of yogurt is beneficial for vaginal health. However, all ingested foods have the ability to alter the composition of the vaginal flora, and thus cause changes in the smell of the vagina.

Although there’s no scientific evidence to support this fact, some women report that the smell of their vagina changes with foods such as chili and garlic. In addition, hormonal changes such as those that occur during menstruation also affect vaginal odor.

11. The term causes confusion

Many people use the word vagina to refer to the vulva but they’re two totally different parts of the female genitalia. The vulva is the external manifestation of the female reproductive system, composed of the labia majora, the labia minora, and the glans clitoris.

The vagina is the muscular channel that connects the outside of the body with the uterus. In more practical terms, it’s the hole through which the baby emerges during childbirth and in which the penis is inserted during sexual intercourse.

If you have any doubts, consult your gynecologist

These are just a few of the most interesting facts about the vagina. There are many others worth investigating, not only for ‘general knowledge’ but to better understand your body and take care of it accordingly. Finally, remember that if you have any questions or want more detailed information, consult your gynecologist.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Almeida, T., Comber, R., Wood, G., Saraf, D., & Balaam, M. (2016). On Looking at the Vagina through Labella. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI ’16. https://doi.org/10.1145/2858036.2858119
  • Cho ST, Kim KH. Pelvic floor muscle exercise and training for coping with urinary incontinence. J Exerc Rehabil. 2021 Dec 27;17(6):379-387. doi: 10.12965/jer.2142666.333. PMID: 35036386; PMCID: PMC8743604.
  • Delgado-Pérez E, Rodríguez-Costa I, Vergara-Pérez F, Blanco-Morales M, Torres-Lacomba M. Recovering Sexuality after Childbirth. What Strategies Do Women Adopt? A Qualitative Study. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Jan 15;19(2):950. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19020950. PMID: 35055771; PMCID: PMC8775547.
  • Hardy, L., Cerca, N., Jespers, V., Vaneechoutte, M., & Crucitti, T. (2017). Bacterial biofilms in the vagina. Research in Microbiology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resmic.2017.02.001
  • Hacker, N. F., Eifel, P. J., & Van Der Velden, J. (2015). Cancer of the vagina. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijgo.2015.06.003
  • Mendling W. Vaginal Microbiota. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016;902:83-93.
  • O’Connell HE, Sanjeevan KV, Hutson JM. Anatomy of the clitoris. J Urol. 2005 Oct;174(4 Pt 1):1189-95.
  • Pauls RN. Anatomy of the clitoris and the female sexual response. Clin Anat. 2015 Apr;28(3):376-84. doi: 10.1002/ca.22524. Epub 2015 Mar 2. PMID: 25727497.
  • Seehusen DA, Baird DC, Bode DV. Dyspareunia in women. Am Fam Physician. 2014 Oct 1;90(7):465-70. PMID: 25369624.
  • Song SD, Acharya KD, Zhu JE, Deveney CM, Walther-Antonio MRS, Tetel MJ, Chia N. Daily Vaginal Microbiota Fluctuations Associated with Natural Hormonal Cycle, Contraceptives, Diet, and Exercise. mSphere. 2020 Jul 8;5(4):e00593-20. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00593-20. PMID: 32641429; PMCID: PMC7343982.
  • Valenta, C. (2005). The use of mucoadhesive polymers in vaginal delivery. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addr.2005.07.004
  • Woodard TL, Diamond MP. Physiologic measures of sexual function in women: a review. Fertil Steril. 2009 Jul;92(1):19-34. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2008.04.041. Epub 2008 Nov 30. PMID: 19046582; PMCID: PMC2771367.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.