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This article is written in partnership with Yarlap®—they’re dedicated to helping us enjoy the benefits of better pelvic floor health and we’re honored to work with them. ~ ed.
Visualize your vulva. Go on, try it.
Take a moment, right now, to really picture it in your mind’s eye.
Or, if you don’t happen to have a vulva but your partner does, visualize theirs…
If you found yourself asking something like, “Where or what is a vulva, and is that the same thing as a vagina?” you’re not alone.
Get this: half of Brits don’t know where the vagina is—and it’s not just the men. True story!
As women, we don’t even want to talk about our vaginas—even with our actual vagina doctors—let alone look at them. It’s no wonder most of us don’t know where to begin caring for the health of our mysterious nether regions, let alone enjoying their full delights.
When was the last time you grabbed a mirror and had a good, long look at your “lady parts”?
I’m guessing probably never. Unless you’ve done some kind of sexual wellness or trauma therapy, in which case, good on you! Or maybe only when you’ve had some kind of…issue, you know, down there.
Either way, it’s safe to say your first thoughts and feelings were probably not ones of wonder and admiration. No, more likely they were a murky combination of self-criticism and discomfort.
We, women, tend to carry a lot of shame and confusion around our genitals, and it’s about damn time we flipped the script. I mean, how empowered are we, if we aren’t fully owning and celebrating every inch of our anatomy and our sexuality, on our own terms?
Women’s sexual wellness advocate and co-director of Yarlap®, MaryEllen Reider, is adamant that getting cozy with our own anatomy is the first step to empowering (and enjoying) ourselves, sexually.
Sex positivity starts with body positivity.
In a culture where the feminine is hyper-sexualized the way it is in the west, isn’t it strange that so many women are so disconnected from the most intimate areas of our own bodies?
Not really. The pornification of the female body is precisely what’s at the heart of our skewed self-perception, as well as men’s unrealistic expectations of vulvas. It’s a vicious cycle. And no one wins—not vulva-owners, nor vulva-lovers.
Getting better acquainted with our bits, in all their truly glorious diversity (vulvas really do come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and varieties), helps counter this disconnect and really does benefit us all. Because when women are happier and healthier, society is happier and healthier.
So, let’s say howdy to the hoo-hoo and celebrate the clitourethrovaginal complex!
3 Fascinating Facts about the “V” to get us started:
1. Vaginas can get erections and even ejaculate, too.
The vagina, when aroused, can grow lengthwise by almost 200 percent! Pretty impressive, huh? Thankfully, women do not have to worry about pitching a tent at an embarrassing time like men.
Seventy percent of vulva-owners are also capable of squirting. Yes ma’am! And it’s not just a cool party trick either, it’s actually a topic that’s really important to many women. Brent Reider, the medical device engineer who designed the Yarlap®, and also MaryEllen’s dad, says, “Women and men call us about this subject. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s even celebrated in literature as an apogee of the erotic. In Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis, Venus says to Adonis, ‘Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie.’”
However, like orgasm, our body’s ability to do it, and do it well, is closely connected with our pelvic floor health. In a study published in the Journal of Sex Research, sexologist, Dr. Beverley Whipple established a high correlation between female ejaculate and pelvic floor tone.
In her writings for The World Health Organization (WHO), defining sexual health as a state of well-being (WHO, 2006), she explained that “female ejaculate can range from droplets of watery non-slippery fluid to a ‘gush’ and the scent will vary by individual and phase in the fertility cycle.
Women who ejaculate have stronger pelvic floor muscles than non-ejaculators, and for many women, ejaculation can be a physically and emotionally profound aspect of their sexual performance.”
Bottom line? There’s no one way to squirt. If you’re gonna do it, do it for yourself—not for your partner. If you wanna do it, get those pelvic floor muscles into shape!
And the easiest, safest, quickest way to do that? Yarlap®: the FDA-approved wellness device that does Kegels for you. It’s the fast track to a healthier pelvic floor and better sexual performance and satisfaction. (No kidding! I’ve tried it myself. Read about my experience here.)
2. Vaginas are like snowflakes, no two are the same.
Dr. Sherry Ross, Ob/Gyn and author of the She-ology book series, speaks about the myth of the “Perfect V,” that porn has perpetuated. In reality? There’s no such thing.
Every vulva is as unique as a fingerprint. Every vagina is as singular as a snowflake. Did you know, for example, that your labia majora, the tissue around the opening of the vagina (also affectionately known as the “lips”), can be as little as a one-quarter inch or up to two inches wide?
So, your own quirky V with one labia minora (inner lip) longer than the other, or whatever the case may be? Totally normal! There’s absolutely no need to rush off for a vaginoplasty. (Seriously, please don’t.)
As Brent of Yarlap® points out, “In a scientific sense, nature sides with the variation. There is an abundance of variation in the clitourethrovaginal complex. The variation is fantastic but does create some confusion until each person realizes how important they are as a unique individual.”
The key is to get to know your own so you know exactly what’s healthy and normal, and what’s not. First and foremost, we need to look at it! Get that mirror out. Also, go to your gynecologist. Ask questions, empower yourself, take charge, and responsibility for your own vagina, both for your sexual health and your pleasure.
Make your vulva happier and healthier:
Get a Yarlap®*, the best “not sex toy” you’ll ever use >>
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3. Vaginas have got guns.
No, not firearms. (Unless you’re at some strange sideshow in, ummm, Thailand perhaps, but moving on…)
Rings of muscle ridges surround the vagina; these muscles allow the vagina to stretch at least 200 percent during things like childbirth. Those muscles have some serious potential too. The gymnast, Tatyiana Kozevnikova, currently holds the record for strongest vaginal muscles, being able to pull objects weighing up to 30 pounds just by flexing.
And where there are vaginas, there are pelvic floor muscles, too. The hammock of the pelvic floor is what holds all our visceral organs in their natural positions. These babies are also inseparable from sexual health and satisfaction. Basically, our pelvic floor muscles can make or break good sex.
In an interview with Emily Morse, doctor of human sexuality and host of the podcast, Sex with Emily, MaryEllen explains: “Your clitoris runs along your pelvic floor muscles and so when your body kicks in with muscle memory through kegel exercises or whatever, before you’re having an orgasm and it says, ‘Wait, I know how to do this, and I know how to do this really strong, and I know how to do this really well, so let’s just have a mind-blowing orgasm. It’s all interconnected.’”
That’s why using a wellness device like Yarlap is about more than just treating urinary incontinence (though this is our most common, yet least talked-about sexual health issue). It’s also about improving our sexual performance and satisfaction through muscle control.
It’s not just childbirth that can affect our pelvic floor health, either. Athletic exercise and time can also degrade the tone of our pelvic floor muscles, leaving us not only peeing when we cough, sneeze, laugh, or jump, but saying bye-bye for good to those mind-blowing orgasms.
We all benefit from Kegel exercises but most of us don’t know how to go from point A to point B. Yarlap® removes all the guesswork of Kegels (the only exercise that tones the pelvic floor muscles, specifically). Just insert it like a tampon and it sends a signal directly to your pelvic floor muscles to engage.
There’s just one exception here: if you experience pain during sex, talk to an expert first because your pelvic floor muscles might actually be tipping the opposite end of the strength scales: they may be too tight.
The Yarlap® does offer relaxation programs to teach your muscles to relax. Pain during sex shouldn’t be anyone’s lot in life. MaryEllen strongly encourages visiting a pelvic floor therapist, if you have that luxury, and using your Yarlap in conjunction with their advice.
If there’s one message MaryEllen and her fellow sexual wellness pioneers echo, it’s that our intimate health and our sexuality are intertwined. There’s no hard line separating the two.
So let’s get serious about our sexual wellness and start loving on our “lady parts.” They sure have earned some TLC.