I’ve been working in the field of pregnancy and childbirth for over 8 years now and in that time I’ve learned quite a bit about the vagina, vulva, clitoris, anus, perineum and female hormonal cycle that I didn’t know before. Some of the lessons learned seem to have nothing to do with pregnancy and birth but then sex and orgasm and the vagina have everything to do with making babies. So for this reason I decided to put together a list of fun facts about lady-bits.
Check it out:
1. Vaginas can change from childbirth, sure. But they are meant to stretch out and back, they are elastic and muscular (which is why kegels and pelvic floor exercises help/work.) The size may not alter much, but the labia will likely spread apart more and stay further apart.
2. The clitoris has 8000 nerve endings, the penis has 4000. Just sayin’.
3. The average vagina is 3-4 inches deep but it’s very elastic (so we can give birth) and, when aroused, and can expand 200%.
4. Pregnant women can have crazy hot sex/orgasmic dreams. One reason is that hormones more conducive to orgasm are highest before dawn; the other is that women can sleep longer and more deeply during pregnancy so they have more opportunities to get to that level of (sweet) dreaming.
5. Women tend to want sex most at around the time they are most fertile—during ovulation.
6. Strippers make more money when they are ovulating than at other times of the month. Apparently women send out sexy vibes and/or pheromones that make them more attractive to men. Strippers on the pill made more money around ovulation, but the increase in tips was not as pronounced as it was in the strippers not on the pill.
7. The word vagina comes from the Latin “sheath for a sword.” Some hate the word because of this phalocentric definition; the fact is mostly when people use the word vagina they are referring to a woman’s vulva. What do you call it?
8. The tip of the clitoris is above the vaginal opening but did you know that the clitoris actually extends, in the shape of a wishbone, around the vaginal opening? When aroused this area swells and becomes extra sensitive.
9. Most women (about 70+%) do not achieve orgasm from penetration alone. Parents, when the time is right, please tell your daughters (and sons!) this crucial info so they don’t feel like freaks if penetration is “not working.”
10. Women who have a clitoris closer to the vaginal opening are more likely to orgasm from penetration because the sensitive bits are being rubbed. Anyone out there having orgasms from penetration care to comment on physiology? Anecdotally, I have found that women who climax from penetration also tend to get more UTIs, I wonder if that’s because the various parts are all very close together and bacteria is more easily shared? Comments please!
11. It is the rare woman who can think herself to climax, but it’s not unheard of. Everyone is different. Circumstances, hormones and associations play a big part of arousal for women.
12. Oxytocin is a key hormone in labor, breastfeeding and sex. It’s released during orgasm and it actually makes the uterus contract which helps pull the sperm into a woman’s body and towards the spot where an egg might be waiting. In fact, the female body is far less passive during intercourse and conception than we’re led to believe. In one story I read in The Female Brain a woman’s contracting vagina/uterus sucked a condom off a sailor and into the cervical crease. (Not sure what the sailor has to do with it, but it seems important to leave that detail in.)
13. Oxytocin is inhibited by alcohol. So, while those gimlets may loosen you up, they can make it harder to go all the way. (Alcohol also slows down labor and inhibits breast milk letdown– the mechanism that gets the milk to flow.)
14. Oxytocin is also inhibited when you feel judged or threatened or exposed to severe stress (the flight-or-fight hormones).
15. According to info on one website, most women don’t have an orgasm on a one-night-stand: “as evolutionary psychologist extraordinaire Dr. David M. Buss details in his joltingly informative book The Evolution Of Desire, over 75% of casually experienced women say they *never* have an orgasm in a one-night stand. Never!” Anyone care to defend or dispute this?
Here’s some further reading, I love ALL THESE BOOKS:
What’s Up Down There by Lissa Rankin, M.D.
The Female Brain by Kouann Brizendine, M.D.
The comments section is anonymous, let’s get some discussion going! I feel like as far as we’ve come as a species, the questions about a woman’s sexual organs and pleasure are still a way too mysterious ….
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photo: Georgia O’Keeffe/National Gallery of Art