May 22 2009

Vagina

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The vulva is often incorrectly called the vagina (or just ‘vag’) by young women. The vagina is inside a woman’s body, with only the entrance visible from outside between her inner lips (labia minora). The vagina is the tube stretching from the entrance in the vulva, to the  cervix and uterus at the top. The vagina is what is commonly known as a blind pouch, meaning that it is like a pouch with just one opening. What goes in through the vaginal entrance must  come out through the vaginal entrance. The exception to this is sperm. Sperm are microscopically small, and powered by their own tails, it is able to go up the cervix at certain times of a woman’s menstrual cycle.

All baby girls have a hymen in the vaginal entrance when they are born.  The vagina is about 4 cm long in a newborn girl. The vagina walls are thick, wet and wrinkly because of the estrogen in the woman’s body.

In a young girl, the outer lips of the vulva closes the vaginal entrance completely. During puberty the outer lips pull aside slightly giving easier access to the vaginal entrance. After child birth or in mature women, the outer and inner lips may actually pull aside far enough for the vaginal entrance to be visible when a woman stands up.

Function

The vagina has 3 functions:

  • Birth canal – Allowing the baby to exit from the uterus, through the cervix into the vagina and the outside world
  • Exit point for fluids from the uterus and the cervix like menstrual flow and cervical mucus
  • Allow the male penis to enter so that semen can be ejaculated safely at the cervix mouth

Contrary to what most women think, the vagina is not a woman’s primary sex organ. The vagina is made for reproduction, for making and having babies. The clitoris is a woman’s primary sex organ.

Size

The vagina is a very elastic organ that can stretch to allow a baby to be born. Its unaroused size is normally measured

When not sexually aroused, the front wall of the vagina is about 3 inches (7.6 cm) on average in length, with a range of 2.3 to 3.7 inches (5.8 to 9.3 cm), the rear wall is about 3.5 inches (8.8 cm) in length on average, with a range of 2.8 to 4.2 inches (7.1 to 10.6 cm).

The width of the vagina is 1.4 inches (3.4 cm) on average, with a range of 0.8 to 2.0 inches (2.1 to 5.0 cm).

This length does not take into account the depth of the vulva, which is the distance between the outer labia and vaginal orifice, commonly called the introitus or vestibule. The depth of the introitus is about 1 inch (2.6 cm) on average, ranging from 5/8 to 1 3/4 inches (1.5 to 4.6 cm).

This means on average, the vulva and vagina can receive objects 4 to 4.5 inches in length, depending on whether the object enters the anterior or posterior vaginal fornix. It also means the average penis, having a length of 5.1 to 5.9 inches (12.9 to 14.9 cm), is sufficiently long to fill the length of the vagina. During sexual arousal, the vagina is reported to lengthen by up to about 50%, resulting in a length of perhaps 4 1/2 inches (11.4 cm). This last observation is debatable, as a study performed in 1991 using MRI found only the front wall of the vagina increased in length, and then only by 1 cm (0.4 inches). The uterus’ position "hardly changed." indicating it is unlikely the vagina increases much in length during sexual arousal. The vagina may stretch under pressure, when an object is inserted, but it doesn’t appear to do much of this on its own.

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