In the second chapter of the vagina bible, Dr. Jen Gunter moves from the vulva to the vagina. It defines it as a fibromuscular duct that connects the vulva to the cervix.

She says that there is basic information about the vagina, essential for women to understand both the functioning of our body and its proper care. This information will help you clear up doubts, eliminate fears, teach other women or girls about their bodies and take care of yourself. A healthy vagina is a healthy woman.

Basic information about the vagina:

How long is the vagina?

The length of the vagina can vary significantly. The posterior wall (the one closest to the rectum) is longer and usually measures between 5.1 and 14.4 cm, while the anterior wall ranges between 4.4 and 8.4 cm. Body size and shape do not predict vaginal length. The vagina widens as it ascends from the opening to the cervix.

Does the hymen protect?

The hymen has long been a fundamental part of history, as it has long defined the value of women in society. But in addition to a social meaning, the hymen exists for other reasons. Some experts believe that at some point in human history, it served as a physical protective barrier for the vagina. Before puberty, the vaginal mucous membrane is very sensitive to irritants. If a prepubescent girl got even a little dirt into her vagina, she could suffer acute inflammation. Estrogen, fat in the labia majora and minora, pubic hair and labia minora (all the protective mechanisms of the lower part of the vagina) do not develop until puberty. Therefore, the hymen could have offered physical protection against dirt and soil. As we evolved and began to walk upright, moving the vaginal opening away from the ground, the need to protect the lower part of the vagina decreased and evolution stopped investing in a rigid membrane, which served as a shield. That would explain why the hymen varies so much from one woman to another: it is no longer biologically important.

Vaginal wall a mucosal tunic

The vaginal wall is covered by a special layer called the "tunica mucosa" that has accordion-like folds and wrinkles. Some women may feel these folds as lumps or rough spots.

This mucous membrane extends over a layer of smooth muscle, which constitutes the wall of the vagina itself. Smooth muscle is characterized because it does not obey voluntary control (the intestine is also made up of smooth muscle cells). While not all of the functions of vaginal smooth muscle are known, it is believed to move blood and flow toward the opening. When muscle contractions become uncoordinated or excessive, this process can cause pain. Some studies suggest that among women with painful periods, spasms and uncoordinated activity of vaginal smooth muscle are greater.

Wrinkles and smooth muscle allow the vagina to collapse during rest, with the walls touching so that air cannot circulate, and then dilate for penetration or vaginal delivery. Vaginal smooth muscle is surrounded by a network of blood vessels. The abundant blood supply partly explains why the vagina tends to recover easily from injuries.

The pelvic floor, organ support

The pelvic floor muscles are two muscular layers that surround the vagina and vaginal opening. They offer a support structure for organs, contribute to continence (of the urethra and intestine), contract during orgasm and contribute to posture and balance. The pelvic floor contracts an average of 3 to 15 times during orgasm. We know this because there have been studies in which women stimulated themselves to achieve it in highly controlled environments.

The superficial layer is located just under the skin of the vulva and is made up of three muscles: ischiocavernosus, bulbospongiosus, and transverse superficial perineal. The point where the transverse superficial perineal, bulbospongiosus, and anal sphincter meet is known as the perineal body. The deep muscle layer extends like a hammock from front to back, from the pubic bone to the hips and coccyx (or coccyx). It has openings for the urethra, vagina and rectum. This deep layer, called the “levator ani,” is made up of three muscles: puborectalis, pubococcygeus, and iliococcygeus. The pelvic floor muscles do not depend on conscious control. Once we achieve sufficient motor and sensory control, we teach the bladder and bowel to work more or less independently.

It is important to mention that weakness or rupture of the pelvic floor, often caused by childbirth, can contribute to incontinence (both of the bladder and bowel) and pelvic organ prolapse (dropping of organs and structures). . If the pelvic floor becomes too tight, the resulting muscle spasms tend to cause discomfort during intercourse or pain at rest.

Vaginal mucosa: effectively regenerative

Did you know that vaginal skin is incredibly regenerative? The mucosa (skin) of the vagina consists of about twenty-eight layers of cells, which contain glycogen, a sugar reserve, and have less keratin than vulvar cells. This makes the vagina less impermeable than the vulva, allowing a small amount of fluid to escape from the bloodstream and become part of the flow. It also means that some substances can leak through the vagina into the bloodstream. Additionally, the vaginal mucosa regenerates much faster than the skin of the vulva, producing a new membrane every ninety-six hours. That is amazing!

Vaginal discharge: normal moisture

Have you ever noticed that your underwear is wetter than normal? Don't worry, it's completely normal. The vagina usually produces between 1 and 3 ml of discharge per day, which is normal and necessary to keep it healthy. Even up to 4 ml is considered normal, that would be like having a soaked panty liner. However, many women have the false belief that any vaginal discharge is abnormal. This may be due to a lack of conversation about the topic, the influence of porn, or cosmetic products designed to "manage" a moist, healthy vagina.

Remember, vaginal discharge is a mixture of secretions from the cervix and glands at the vaginal opening, as well as substances produced by healthy bacteria, cells shed from the mucosa, and a small amount of transudate (fluid that leaks from the bloodstream). Don't feel insecure or uncomfortable with how normal it is to have vaginal discharge. It's your body doing what it needs to stay healthy!

Tell us, what was the most shocking fact? What doubts did you have? Do you think this information is useful? We want to know your opinion, learn and debate this new knowledge. We want to be part of the well-being of women with your help.

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