Sadly, vagina myths are prevalent even today because society insists on presenting female anatomy as something complicated. In reality, it’s actually pretty straightforward. We’re here to educate you about the female body and bust some of the most common and harmful myths about vaginas.
Understanding how the female reproductive system works is essential for a healthy relationship with your own body and/or with any AFAB person.
While most people associate the term vagina with the whole female reproductive system, it is only actually a piece of the puzzle. This word refers to the inner muscular canal through which babies pass during birth, menstrual blood flows, and where penetrative sex happens.
The part of female genitalia observable from the outside is actually called the vulva. The labia majora (outer lips), labia minora (inner lips), clitoris, urethra opening, and vaginal opening all make up the vulva.
How Many Holes Does a Vagina Have?
The vulva has two openings. One of them is the vagina, and the other is the urethra. The urethra is located slightly above the vagina and is connected to the kidneys and bladder. In other words, this is where AFAB people pee from.
The vagina itself is connected to the uterus and, as mentioned, is where childbrith, penetrative sex, and menstrual bleeding happen.
Myths About the Vagina & Hygiene
You may have heard about vaginas being unclean and needing to thoroughly scrub yourself down from the inside. In fact, there are many products out there targeted at AFAB people promising to make their genitalia smell like roses and cupcakes.
However, this is extremely harmful to the health of your vagina. Using cleaning products designed specifically for your vagina, as well as steaming and douching, can result in a severe infection.
One of the most important facts about the vagina is that it’s full of good bacteria that maintain its proper pH balance and keep things running smoothly. As soon as you introduce something to a sensitive environment like that, you risk throwing that balance off.
This is one of the most easily verifiable vagina facts, too. The mostly white and creamy discharge you find on your underwear or when you’re in the shower is proof that your vagina is cleaning itself.
The consistency, smell, and color of the discharge can change depending on what day of your cycle it is, so if you get to know your body, it will tell you exactly what it’s going through.
Loose Vagina Myth: The More Partners You Have, The Looser It Will Get
When you mention that a vagina is elastic, a lot of people seem to think that means it loses elasticity over time. The truth is, the vagina is a muscle that doesn’t get loose just because you have sex.
Childbirth and age are the only things that can affect vagina tightness, but even then, the changes are not permanent. What’s more, a vagina may become slightly looser during sex or foreplay, but this is a good sign: It means you’re aroused. It also makes sex less painful and more enjoyable.
The reason vagina myths like this persist even today is that women are still shamed for their sexuality. If it were an actual fact, you wouldn’t hear about a vagina being loose only when the woman has had multiple sexual partners. Instead, the same would be true if she only had one partner and a lot of sex. There is also no such thing as “the vagina remembering the shape of the penis and getting confused when it’s not the same one.”
The real truth is that you shouldn’t be ashamed of liking or enjoying sex, and that your vagina won’t get loose from penetration.
Tight Vagina Explained: Is it Really a Good Thing?
If you experience pain during penetration often, but still get compliments on how tight you are, you may be dealing with an underlying issue. The most common reason for this is disinterest in the act or just not being turned on enough.
With foreplay and stimulation comes arousal; arousal means your whole body gets more relaxed, and your vagina becomes more lubricated and loosens up, so the experience is more comfortable for you.
If you don’t think your arousal is the issue, you may want to talk to your gynecologist about vaginismus. Those who suffer from vaginismus experience pain during penetration, but also during pelvic exams, and when putting in a tampon. Thankfully, with the right care, it’s also treatable.
Hymen Myths: An Intact Hymen is Proof of Virginity
The most common myth surrounding the hymen is that it’s proof of virginity. According to those stories, a woman is born with a hymen that “seals” the vagina, and once she has sex the first time, it’s broken. Bleeding and pain are normal parts of this process, and women shouldn’t expect to like sex then.
As you may have guessed, this kind of thinking and this particular myth also stem from society teaching women to be ashamed of their sexuality.
In truth, the hymen doesn’t necessarily stay intact before the first intercourse. One of the most common hymen myths says that the hymen is rigid and can be broken, just like a seal.
As a matter of fact, the hymen is stretchy and may not even break during penetration. It may not hurt or bleed, either. Most importantly, though, it can get torn and stretched during exercise, from gynecological exams, and even from tampon use.
On top of that, the size and shape of the hymen vary from person to person. Some people may not even be born with one, to begin with.
Why Does the Hymen Exist?
If it isn’t a physical marker of virginity – a concept invented by humans long after the actual body part appeared through evolution – what is the hymen, then? Well, that question is a little hard to answer because the hymen doesn’t seem to have much of a physiological function.
One theory is that it developed to keep harmful bacteria out of the vagina. We didn’t always have the hygienic standards or soft cotton underwear of today, so the hymen might be nature’s way of keeping your vagina healthy and infection-free.
Vaginal Orgasm Myth: There Are Two Types of Orgasms
The idea that there is more than one orgasm originated from Freud. He claimed that women can experience a clitoral (external stimulation) or vaginal (penetration) orgasm, and that women who do not experience vaginal orgasms when they grow up have something seriously wrong with them.
Even though there is still some debate about whether there are multiple types of orgasms or not to this day, vagina facts say that there is no physiological difference between vaginal and clitoral orgasms.
Even if those and other types of stimulation make orgasms feel a different way, the same thing happens in your brain every time.
On top of that, orgasms achieved through penetration alone are in no way superior to those achieved with clitoral stimulation. In fact, most women can’t orgasm just from penetration.
Masturbation Doesn’t Ruin Sex
One of the most obvious facts about vaginas is that they don’t lose their ability to give you orgasms during sex if you masturbate. Another piece of evidence of the oppression of female sexuality, this myth perpetuates the idea that it’s the woman’s fault if she can’t climax during penetrative sex.
Masturbation is entirely normal. In fact, exploring your body can help you find out what you like and what kind of stimulation you prefer. In other words, it can help you feel more pleasure with a partner and even help you climax.
Whether you’re exploring with toys or your hands, remember that it won’t impair any functionality whatsoever. One of the most interesting facts about the vagina is that it’s built for pleasure as much as procreation – something like an intense vibrator or a penis cannot damage it.
Period Myths: Periods are Unnatural & Can be Controlled
From time to time, the myth that periods are unnatural resurfaces. People claim that periods happen because your body is getting rid of “toxic” materials that build up inside you because you don’t have a clean diet.
If you only cut out everything from sugar to coffee and limit your calories, you would stop getting your period because your body would have nothing to get rid of.
The truth is that the vagina system is designed to bleed. Menstruation is the most natural thing that can happen to your female body. The uterine lining starts to shed because no zygote was implanted.
What’s more, you would likely lose your period if you only ate superfood vegetables and fruits because that would severely limit your calorie intake. This isn’t because periods are dirty, but because you would be malnourished. Your body would go into survival mode because it knows that it needs to save everything it has.
Periods Can Be Controlled
This is one of those weird vagina facts people who don’t experience menstruation tend to believe. In truth, it’s just another myth, this time used mostly as an argument against free period products.
Blood and pee do not come out of the same hole. You can hold your pee in because it comes through the urethra.
Period blood, on the other hand, comes out of the vagina and has nothing to do with your bladder. You don’t control when your period starts, how much you bleed, or when it ends.
Even if you could, it would be extremely unhealthy for blood to build up inside your vagina, especially since the average period lasts for around a week.
Tampon Myth: Tampons are Arousing
Some people seem to believe that there’s something sexual about putting a tampon in. They think that women prefer tampons because they get off every time they put them in and take them out.
Truthfully, nothing is arousing about inserting or changing a tampon. It is a piece of cotton designed to absorb period blood and nothing more than that. Women who prefer tampons usually find them more practical or more comfortable than pads, and there’s not much more to it than that.
Tampons Stretch You Out
This falls under the vagina myths relating to looseness. We have already covered that penises and toys cannot stretch you out, but just to be clear — neither can tampons.
In fact, tampons are smaller than penises and the average vibrator, so even if those two could stretch you out, a tampon wouldn’t be able to.
This is just another puritan idea that perpetuates the notion that the only thing a woman should ever have inside her is her husband’s penis.
Tampons Cause Endometriosis
Endometriosis doesn’t have a lot to do with vagina anatomy combined with tampons. Endometriosis refers to the growth of uterine cells outside the uterus, which makes periods extremely painful.
Some people believe this happens because the blood flows backward into the uterus because tampons block the cervix, so the blood can’t come out normally. Suffice it to say, that is not the case. Tampons absorb blood – they do not stop it from flowing.
Tampons Should Be Changed Every Time You Pee
This myth comes from the belief that women pee from the same hole they bleed. As we have already established, the urethra is a separate hole, which means that you can pee without getting your tampon wet.
The most basic facts about your vagina say that you should change your tampon when you need to, depending on how heavy your flow is. Your bladder has absolutely nothing to do with this.
Related to that fact is that you can also absolutely sleep with a tampon in. The only thing you need to do is make sure that you don’t keep the tampon in for more than eight hours, as otherwise, you risk suffering potentially serious health consequences. If your flow is lighter during the night, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t sleep with a tampon, so long as you don’t overstep the time limits.
Now that you’ve reached the end of this article, it’s hopefully easier to understand why these vagina myths exist and how harmful they can be for women everywhere. There’s nothing mystical or dirty about a vagina – it’s just the lack of education that makes some people think so.
Learning and spreading correct information can make for a more inclusive, progressive, and open-minded society, so make sure to keep educating yourself and others.