Your vagina is inside your body, leading up to your womb. It connects the vulva to the cervix. It is not the entire female genital region between your legs as many believe. The vulva is the accurate term for all the external parts of the female genitalia the mons pubis, labia majora, labia minora, clitoris, vestibular bulbs, vulva vestibule, Bartholin's glands, Skene's glands, urethra, and vaginal opening (Nguyen & Duong, 2019)
The terms vulva and vagina are often used interchangeably. In fact, many people cannot identify or accurately describe what a vulva is. Use of the word vulva would seem to be taboo and even more so than menstruation. In medical texts information of vulval morphology has also been scant and at times found to be inaccurate. This lack of clinical knowledge has arguably led to doctors and women themselves consciously or unconsciously relying upon personal experience or cultural experience to form their opinions of what a vulva is (Andrikopoulou et al., 2013) . Neglecting to inform women about their vulva has the potential to have consequences regarding health. Some have argued that by omitting to use the word vulva is to fail to celebrate independent female sexuality.
There is growing recognition among women that we have not been given much information about our own bodies and this is evident in emerging Vulva awareness projects in both written and social media. Studies suggest, people who post on a Vulva positive site, see it as a useful educational tool to address the lack of awareness of the vulva and to challenge normative ideas of what one looks like. The authors argue that these sort of media sites offer support and solidarity for women in what is considered complex contradictory post-feminist digital culture (Mowat et al., 2020).
Nothing is taboo at PCOS Vitality. We too are vulva-positive and want everyone to feel empowered by their bodies. We believe it is important that we have the knowledge about our bodies to be able to describe them in relation to healthcare and sexuality and not to feel ashamed.
Consequently, we would like to draw your attention to a fantastic resource called “What is a Vulva anyway?” which has been developed by a team with expertise in adolescent gynaecology based at University College London Hospital in collaboration with Brook and is commissioned by BritSPAG. Enjoy reading!
©PCOS Vitality, 2020
Andrikopoulou, M., Michala, L., Creighton, S. M., & Liao, L. M. (2013). The normal vulva in medical textbooks. In Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Vol. 33, Issue 7, pp. 648–650). https://doi.org/10.3109/01443615.2013.807782
Mowat, H., Dobson, A. S., McDonald, K., Fisher, J., & Kirkman, M. (2020). “For myself and others like me”: women’s contributions to vulva-positive social media. Feminist Media Studies, 20(1), 35–52. https://doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2018.1546209
Nguyen, J., & Duong, H. (2019). Anatomy, Abdomen and Pelvis, Female External Genitalia. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31613483
Disclaimer: Not medical advice. All information is provided in good faith. PCOS Vitality does not accept any responsibility for external links.