Gwyneth Paltrow wants you to steam yours with mugwort; fans of the "vajacial" endorse slathering on masks and enzymes, but vaginas are true marvels that need little to stay fit and healthy aside from some very basic TLC. As a sage Russell Saunders writes in The Daily Beast, "women should no more steam their vaginas than flush them with Lysol." Indeed.
In celebration of that intricate, most complex of privates, we offer up this ode to the vagina and just a few of the amazing things it can do:
1. The vagina is self-cleaning and self-regulating.
It's normal, even a good thing, that the vagina -- the elastic, muscular tube that connects the uterus and cervix to the outer sex organs, i.e., the vulva -- emits certain discharges throughout a woman's cycle. "The vagina is designed to keep itself clean with the help of natural secretions," Britain's National Health Service website explains. It also has more bacteria than anywhere else in the body (second only to the bowels) in order to keep the downstairs area in harmony: Good vaginal bacteria help maintain the area's delicate pH balance and even produce a substance that keeps other bacteria from sticking to the vaginal walls and invading the tissues, NHS states.
Then there's the fact that women's vaginas are capable of preparing for intercourse by producing a clear discharge that provides lubrication and makes sex comfortable and pleasurable. The vagina, in other words, is wholly its own boss.
2. It grows.
Like, big time. During childbirth, the cervix -- the tissue that connects the uterus to the vagina -- opens or dilates to 10 centimeters in order for the baby to move into the birth canal. How much the vagina itself expands when a woman is in labor depends on a host of factors, including genetics and how big her baby is.
But labor isn't the only time when a woman's vagina gets bigger: It can grow by up to 200 percent when a woman is sexually aroused, Psychology Today reports. As Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine, once put it: "The vagina is an expanding organ."
3. It can get stronger.
The vagina does some amazing growing during childbirth, but it's also fully capable of bouncing back after because it has "not only the elasticity to expand, but also the capacity to recoil," explains the What to Expect When You're Expecting website. Vaginas can be strengthened by pelvic floor exercises, or Kegels, which not only make the area around the vagina and anus stronger after labor and delivery, but can benefit a woman throughout her life, whether or not she ever gives birth. According to the Mayo Clinic, daily Kegeling can help prevent urine leakage and improve bowel control.
In a slightly sexier vein, Everyday Health points out that "strong Kegels can heighten your arousal during sex, enhance your orgasms, improve blood circulation to the genitals and increase vaginal tone and lubrication." And all it takes is a bit of daily dedication.
4. The clitoris is the only organ designed purely for pleasure.
"The clitoris is a part of your vulva that's devoted purely to sexual pleasure," Planned Parenthood explains (emphasis ours, because woot!). "It becomes swollen when you're aroused."
5. When it comes to orgasm, no down time necessary.
As the Cleveland Clinic puts it: "Men need recovery time after orgasm, called a refractory period, during which they cannot reach orgasm again." Women's bodies, on the other hand, need no such time out, and "many are capable of a rapid return to the orgasm phase with further sexual stimulation and may experience multiple orgasms."
Case in point: the woman at the Denmark Masturbate-a-thon (which is apparently a thing) who achieved a reported 222 orgasms in a row.