For Teen Vogue, by Krissy Brady.
As far as body parts go, the vagina is probably the most fascinating and most impressive body part you have -- and chances are, you have more questions about it than you do answers. From the blended orgasm to a coffee-scented discharge (kidding, sort of), here are nine fascinating things that happen below the belt:
Your pubic hair doesn't keep growing.
Okay, so pubic hair isn't actually part of your vagina, but it does protect it. Our body hair has different growth cycles, alternating between periods of growth and no growth, says Sara Twogood, MD, assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. Pubic hair not only grows way slower than the hair on your head, but also has a longer rest cycle, which is why it only grows to a certain length.
Itching doesn't necessarily mean a yeast infection.
The slightest thing can send your vagina's delicate ecosystem off balance -- tight clothing, an ingrown hair, even your laundry detergent can cause itching and irritation. Meanwhile, discharge can be caused by other types of vaginal infections, such as bacterial vaginosis and sexually transmitted infections like trichomoniasis, says Twogood. "Many women cannot distinguish be-tween the types of irritation," she says. "It's best to see your gynecologist, who can determine the exact cause of your discomfort."
The clitoris has more nerve endings than anywhere else.
A female orgasm is typically more intense than a male orgasm, thanks to our good friend the the clitoris. This tiny piece of real estate has at least 8,000 nerve endings, while the penis only sports about 4,000, says Michigan-based sexologist Megan Stubbs. No wonder it's such a pleasure zone.
Your vagina is fully adjustable.
The vagina can stretch in size for different reasons, such as sex and childbirth, but it doesn't stay that way, says Stubbs. After the fact, it returns to its normal size, kind of like an elastic band. Some people believe slut-shaming myths like if a woman has sex, her vagina becomes "loose." This is not true.
You can have more than one kind of orgasm.
It turns out there's more than one way for women to have an orgasm: Female orgasms have been categorized into G-spot, vaginal, and clitoral, says Twogood. You can also have more than one type at the same time, which, fun fact, is called a blended orgasm.
Your diet may affect how it smells.
Okay, so foods don't directly cause your discharge to smell differently -- but they can affect the vaginal environment and therefore your scent. "Strong spices, garlic, onions, and coffee are the culprits commonly known to change vaginal odor," says Kecia Gaither, MD, double board-certified Ob-Gyn in New York. However, if your vaginal scent is less triple espresso and more fishy (especially if accompanied by irritation or a weird discharge), check in with your doc to rule out an infection, she adds.
It's impossible to lose anything up there.
The vagina is a narrow, elastic canal that ends in the cervix, which is basically the Fort Knox of your nether regions -- nothing can get past it (except, you know, sperm). "If a tampon or condom does slip out of reach, simply reaching inside your vagina while squatting and bearing down usually does the trick," says Gaither. Otherwise, your Ob-Gyn can use a speculum to quickly fish it out for you.
Your vagina is self-cleaning.
As if the vagina wasn't impressive enough, it also cleans itself. "Discharge -- which represents the excretion of water, bacteria, and vaginal cells -- functions as the daily self-cleaning mechanism," says Gaither. Ironically, many products on the market that are meant to clean the vagina can actually throw its pH balance out of whack and set the stage for yeast infections. In other words, ditch the douching and let your vagina do its own thing.
There's no such thing as a "normal" vagina.
All women look different physically, and their nether regions are no exception, says Twogood. Don't worry about how "normal" or "perfect" you look below the belt -- your vagina is as unique as you are. So, stop looking for imperfections, and start loving yourself just the way you are.
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