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What Are The Differences Between The Vulva And The Vagina

  • July 13, 2022
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Vulva or vagina?

The term “vagina” is often used to refer to the entire female genital region. However, this is incorrect. Anatomically, the vagina is the muscular tube connecting the uterus to the vaginal opening. The parts of the female genitalia that are visible––that is to say, the external parts––are collectively called the vulva. The vulva consists of the labia, clitoris, urethral and vaginal opening, and mons pubis.

Anatomy of the vulva

No two vulvas will look the same, but the general anatomy of the vulva consists of:

  • Labia: The labia refers to the skin folds around the opening of your vagina. The labia majora (or “outer lips”) is the fleshy area that is usually covered with pubic hair. The labia minora (or “inner lips”) are inside the labia majora, and extend from the clitoris to the vaginal opening.
  • Clitoris: The tip of the clitoris (also known as the glans) can be found towards the top of your vulva, where the labia minora meet. Clitorises can range a lot in size. The glans is covered by tissue called the clitoral hood. This is just the beginning of the clitoris though. However, the clitoris is much larger than just the tip––the shaft and crura (root and legs, respectively) of the clitoris extends back and down on both sides of the vagina, and is usually about 12cm long.
  • Urethral opening: The urethral opening is where urine exits the body. It is located just below the clitoris.
  • Vaginal opening: The vaginal opening is just below the urethral opening. This is where menstrual blood and vaginal discharge leave the body, and where tampons, menstrual cups, and penises are inserted during sex.
  • Mons pubis: The mons pubis refers to the fleshy mound that covers your pubic bone. It is located above your vulva. After puberty, it is usually covered in pubic hair.

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Anatomy of the vagina

Anatomically, the vagina refers to the muscular tube that connects the cervix to the vulva. Menstrual blood and vaginal discharge exit through the vagina. The vagina is also used for insertion of tampons, menstrual cups, and sex toys.

The walls of the vagina are flexible. Skin folds covering the vaginal walls, called rugae, allow it to stretch and expand during arousal or childbirth. The outermost layers of the vagina are made of mucosal tissue, which is similar to the tissue lining the nose, mouth, and digestive tract. Beneath that, layers of collagen and muscle tissue help the vagina stretch and maintain its anatomy structure.

The vagina also releases fluids through the vaginal walls in order to keep the area moisturized and to increase lubrication during sex. With age, some women may experience vaginal dryness as vaginal secretions decrease during and after menopause.  

Intimate Hygiene: Vulva Vs Vagina

The vagina: when it comes to personal hygiene in your intimate area, you should also avoid using any harsh soaps, shower gels, and other chemicals in your genital area, including douching. These can be harmful as they can upset the natural balance of bacteria present in your vagina. This change in environment can enable infection-causing bacteria to grow, making the vagina more susceptible to infections. 

The vulva: while the vagina should not be “internally” cleansed or douched as it is naturally “self-cleaning”, you should consider cleansing your vulva (the external area) as bacteria buildup may lead to infections or symptoms like itching, odour and discomfort. For this, you can consider using a pH balanced cleanser which will not disrupt your vagina’s natural pH levels and therefore avoid causing any infections. You can consider getting this clinically-formulated, pH balanced Probiotic Cleanser from Ease. This cleanser does not contain hash soaps and may help cleanse and refresh your vulva without disrupting the skin’s natural pH levels and microbiota.

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