What Do You Mean The Vulva And Vagina Aren’t The Same Thing?

A mini-anatomy lesson

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

My last story was about something that came up on Real Housewives of Potomac, namely genitals and plastic surgery.

My sister (who I love dearly, most days) told me to cut the whole anatomy mini-lesson I had included, saying it didn’t fit with a Medium story on Real Housewives. And maybe she’s right, but as a sex educator I can’t complain about the horrible state of American sex education and then NOT do a mini-anatomy lesson.

So here it is…

I’m going to use the terms man and woman to refer to biological sex. Gender is a whole different thing, which is why it’s possible for a person to have a clitoris and identify as male (if that confuses anyone out there let me know and I’ll do a whole separate piece on that).

A woman’s external genitalia, basically all the stuff you see on the outside, is the vulva. The inner and outer lips are part of the vulva. These lips (labia majora and labia minora) help protect the clitoris and vaginal opening. Forget what you see in porn (and sadly many textbooks) there’s no “right” way for them to look! Sometimes the inner lips stick out, sometimes they don’t.

The vagina is an internal organ that leads up to the uterus (most people think of it as the birth canal). The G spot is located in the vagina. Does the rest of the vagina have some nerve endings? Sure- but not as many as most people think.

For most people, the clitoris is the fun part, it’s located on the outside towards the very front of the vulva. It doesn’t really do much in terms of functioning, but it’s one of the places where most people love to be touched because it has so many nerve endings.

So there you have it, a (very) brief intro to female anatomy.

Want more information on another sex topic? Leave a comment or submit an anonymous question here.

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Susan Milstein

Susan Milstein

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Dr. Susan Milstein has a PhD in Human Sexuality Education and is the co-author of the 6th edition of "Human Sexuality: Making informed decisions."