Poor vaginas have been the subject of some pretty bonker myths over the years. Some old wive's tales told stories of vaginas filled with teeth — vagina dentata — that emasculated any man unlucky enough to get near it. Yikes. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of modern myths about vaginas you might not realize you believe. Even though these stories don’t involve growing an extra set of teeth, they are still wrong.
Most of the myths are rooted in some ideas about the inherent cleanliness of women’s bodies, and the way sex and childbirth may change them. So to be clear: there is nothing naturally unclean or nasty about a vagina. As long as you keep up with basic hygiene practices, your lady parts should be happy and healthy. Furthermore, you will not “wear out” your vagina by having a lot of sex or giving birth. They are pretty resilient organs, after all.
Although you’re probably well-informed in all matters of the vagina, it’s a good idea to take a sanity check now and then to make sure these outdated ideas aren’t still hanging out in your brain. Because there’s no need to feel bad about your totally normal body.
Myth #1: Too Much Sex Will Make It "Loose"
This idea is based in sex shame, not reality. According to Psychology Today, the idea that a woman's vagina is permanently loosened after sex is false. Although age and childbirth may make things a little more relaxed down there over time, all of those "hotdog down a hallway" jokes are just gross and untrue.
Myth #2: It's Dirty
There's nothing inherently dirty about your downstairs area. As explained in Cosmopolitan, just cleaning up with a regular, mild soap is enough to keep things fresh. It's pretty self-cleaning otherwise.
Myth #3: It Smells Fishy
A healthy vagina won't have much odor at all. And if by chance you do have a "fishy" scent going on down there, it's likely a case of bacterial vaginosis (BV), as explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the CDC further noted, BV is a very common infection that can usually be treated with antibiotics from your doctor.
Myth #4: Vaginal Hair Is Gross
It's not gross — it's natural. According to Psychology Today, hairlessness is not the norm for all women, and there are a wide variety of options for grooming (or not) the hair down there. Whatever you want to do with it is up to you.
Myth #5: An Intact Hymen Means You're A Virgin
The construct of "popping your cherry" is pretty strange when you think about it with a critical eye. Sometimes known as the vaginal corona, the Huffington Post noted that the hymen can't really break or pop when you have sex — it's designed to wear away as you grow into adulthood, and anything from bike riding to tampon insertion can do away with it. It's only a tiny flap of skin after all.
Myth #6: It Should Be Ready For Action Super-Fast
Sure, in the movies some women can go from zero to screaming orgasm three seconds after the hero kisses her. But according to Self, most women cannot be all lubed and ready without any foreplay. It's normal to need more time and attention to get all revved up.
Myth #7: Most Women Don't Masturbate
Think most women don't enjoy a little self-love now and again? Think again. As explained in a study from the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 80 percent of women in their 30s have masturbated alone at some point in their lives. You are not alone in your alone-time.
Myth #8: Penetrative Sex Alone Should Bring You To Orgasm
Again, you may need a little more time and attention than your male partner to climax. As sex and relationship expert Pepper Schwartz told Buzzfeed, “the clitoris is where all the nerve endings are — except for the cervix — and there are almost none in the barrel of the vagina.” It only makes sense if you need a little more attention up front and center.
Myth #9: Things May Get Lost In There
Well, not completely. As explained in WebMD, condoms and tampons may occasionally slip out of reach. But you can always get a doctor to help you retrieve anything; it isn't going to drift up to your spleen or anything.
Myth #10: Giving Birth Will Ruin It Forever
Having a baby won't stretch things out forever. According to Glamour, most vaginas do return to their regular size and shape after giving birth. Their flexibility is pretty amazing when you stop to think about it.
Myth #11: The Labia Should Look A Certain Way
Feeling self-conscious about the size of your labia? As explained in Salon, the average length of labia can range from 20 to 100 millimeters. Chances are your is just fine.
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