Miranda Fudge, B.A. (Hons.), Ph.D. Candidate
LADIES… how do you feel about your down-there? Are you absolutely in love with your coochie? Or do you try to forget that special-place is even a part of your body? MEN… You might enjoy the lady-yum-yum (or not), but have you ever wondered how the wonderful women in your life feel about their vulva/vagina (genitals)1?
According to our recent study2, women’s thoughts and feelings about their genitals tend to be somewhat mixed.
The 20 women we interviewed tended to have positive, negative, and neutral feelings about different aspects of their genitals, all at once. For example, one woman loved how her vulva looked but was very disappointed in how her vagina functioned, if you know what I mean ;)
So what makes this important? Well, aside from the fact that it’s just plain upsetting that many women feel badly about such an amazing (and super fun!) part of their body, negative feelings have consequences!
Some of the women in our study described:
· hiding their genitals in both public (e.g., change rooms) and private (e.g., sexual) situations
· limiting sexual activities
· engaging in unnecessary (possibly harmful) hygiene practices.
Many just don’t know a lot about their genitals. There is huge diversity in how women’s genitals look, smell, taste, and function. You heard it here: each vulva is very unique and equally as beautiful as the next!
If you would like to learn more about women’s genitals (and we highly recommend that you do!), especially the topic of genital diversity, please explore the resources below:
Books about women’s genitals and genital health:
• The V Book: A Doctor’s Guide to Complete Vulvovaginal Health (by Elizabeth G. Stewart and Paula Spencer)
• Read My Lips: A Complete Guide to the Vagina and Vulva (by Debby Herbenick and Vanessa Schick)
Websites featuring galleries, books, or works of art displaying genital diversity3:
1 In case you were wondering… your vulva is the part of your genitals you can see from the outside (including parts like the clitoris, pubic mound, and vaginal lips). Your vagina is the inside part (also sometimes called the birth canal and/or the part where a tampon/penis/other-fun-object can be inserted).
2 Fudge, M. C., & Byers, E. S. (2016). “I have a nice gross vagina”: Understanding young women’s genital self-perceptions. Journal of Sex Research. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2016.1155200.
3 Most of these websites provide you with the opportunity to view a variety of women’s vulvas, should you be interested in doing so. Many women find this experience to be enlightening and reassuring because it shows that every woman’s genitals are unique and that there is no “normal” genital appearance. It is our hope that visiting these sites will be empowering for you as well.