5 Myths about the Vagina
The vagina is a widely misunderstood organ, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are some of the most prevalent myths about vaginas, and the reasons they’re false.
MYTH: The entire genital region is called the vagina
While many people use the word “vagina” in a highly general way, it actually refers only to a specific part of the genitals: the vaginal canal, i.e. the orifice itself.
The outer portion of this type of genitalia – which includes the labia majora and minora, the mons pubis, and the clitoris – is known as the vulva. So, for example, when a person says that they “shaved their vagina,” what they actually mean is that they shaved their vulva (we hope!).
MYTH: The hymen is a surefire indicator of virginity
The hymen, a thin layer of tissue that partly covers the vaginal opening, has long been used as an excuse to bully, shame, and abuse women. For centuries, its presence or absence was considered proof of a woman’s virginity status.
Even setting aside the moral murkiness of “virginity tests” (which many critics consider to be a form of sexual assault), this belief just isn’t scientifically supported. The hymen can break for all sorts of reasons, many of which are nonsexual, and not everyone’s hymen even covers their entire vaginal opening to begin with. The pain and bleeding associated with the “breaking” of the hymen during initial intercourse is attributed instead, scientists say, to overly rough penetration with insufficient lubrication. Foreplay matters!
MYTH: Having too much sex will permanently stretch out a vagina
There simply isn’t scientific evidence to back this up. Like the penis, the vagina swells and expands with arousal, which is why (for example) it’s easier to use large dildos when you’re already turned on – but it always returns to its normal size as arousal subsides.
After all, the vaginal muscles are elastic enough that a person can give birth to a 10-pound baby and be fine afterward. Short of an actual vaginal injury – which can be prevented by using a lot of lube and getting very turned on before penetration begins – a mere sex session isn’t going to alter the size of a vagina.
MYTH: The vagina is the main source of orgasms for everyone who has a vagina
The anatomical pleasure equivalent of the penis isn’t the vagina – it’s the clitoris. The two parts are analogous to one another, meaning they grow from the same original embryonic tissue and share some functions – most notably: pleasure.
This is why about 70-80% of women need clitoral stimulation to be involved if they’re going to reach orgasm. That’s not to say that penetration isn’t also pleasurable for those people, but it isn’t the main driving force behind their orgasms and it may not be necessary in order to reach an orgasm.
MYTH: Only women have them
Trans, nonbinary, and intersex people exist – and some of them have vaginas. It’s as simple as that.
Are there any myths you used to believe about vaginas?