Your Vagina – Our OB/GYNs Answer 12 Common Questions
OB/GYNs hear many questions from women about their vaginas and most doctors would say there isn’t a question they haven’t heard before. But many women are often uncomfortable or embarrassed to ask some basic questions. However, OB/GYNs are experts in female anatomy and their job is to help women understand their bodies.REQUEST A FREE CONSULTATION
Following are answers to twelve of the questions our OB/GYNs hear from patients, but that some women are too embarrassed to talk about.
12 Questions and Answers About Your Vagina
1. Does the Vagina get Bigger for Childbirth?
Your vagina and the vaginal canal will stretch to allow for the baby to pass through during childbirth. After childbirth many women notice that their vaginal canal feels looser, wider, or drier. Usually after about 2-6 months after childbirth, the vaginal canal returns to somewhat of the pre-birth state. Read more about the changes that happen to your body as a result of childbirth.
2. Does my Vagina Stay Stretched out After Childbirth?
Yes and no. The vagina is somewhat elastic and has the ability to stretch out and then snap back into its pre-birth state. The pressure of pregnancy and birth on the pelvic floor can cause changes in the vaginal muscles, and it is possible the vagina can mostly return to the way it was before. Depending on the difficulty of birth, the size of the baby, or if there was tearing during delivery, there could be some more significant vaginal stretching that remains after childbirth. The vagina may continue to feel looser or stretched out because it is actually wider and may have had some damage. Aging can also weaken the vaginal muscles, regardless of childbirth.
Learn what can be done if your vagina feels too loose.
3. How Long is the Vaginal Canal?
It’s not as big as women think – most women have a vaginal canal that is three to six inches long. For a reference, it is approximately as long as your hand. But the length of your vaginal canal can vary in certain situations, like during sex or childbirth.
Although the normal range of vaginal depth is between three and six inches, if you notice your vagina seems too shallow or short, it may be a sign of a medical condition that needs treatment.
4. Does the Vagina get Longer When You are Aroused?
Absolutely. During sex, the vaginal canal can get longer to accommodate penetration. Sexual arousal forces the cervix and uterus to lift up, which causes the upper portion of your vagina to lengthen.
5. Are Kegels Necessary?
Kegels are helpful because they help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support the bladder, uterus, rectum and small intestine. Over time, your pelvic floor muscles may weaken as a result of:
- straining from coughing or constipation
- weight gain
Learn more about pelvic floor therapy and other exercises.
6. Does the Clitoris get Bigger When You are Aroused?
Yes, it does. When you’re aroused, your clitoris can swell and retract, meaning that it hides under its hood. It isn’t a dramatic change, but it does happen.
7. Will my Labia Change After Childbirth?
Yes, most likely it will be somewhat different. If you tore during childbirth or had an episiotomy, your labia could be larger, discolored, or asymmetrical. Over time, scar tissue can form around your vagina and your labia and for some may make intercourse uncomfortable.
Treatment is Available
If you notice your genitalia or labia is causing discomfort, seek treatment from a urogynecologist, a physician who is board-certified in both OB/GYN and FPMRS (Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery). They are uniquely qualified in female pelvic reconstruction.REQUEST MORE INFORMATION
8. Do All Vaginas Look Alike?
No, they don’t. Just like women, they are all unique, so the same goes for their vaginas. Your vagina, labia, and other parts of your genitalia are all unique. Some are bigger, smaller, asymmetrical, or varying colors. Although there may be average sizes and shapes, everyone’s genitalia is somewhat different.
9. Why is the Skin on My Genitals Than my Other Skin?
It’s completely normal for the skin of your genitals to be a different color than the rest of your skin. Colors can range from brownish, to reddish, or pink or purple.
Your genitals may also become darker when you’re aroused. The blood flow to the area can cause swelling and the color of your clitoris and inner lips (labia minora) to change.
However, if you notice skin color changes that are unusual or atypical, you may have an infection or a medical condition. See your doctor to make sure you don’t have an underlying condition or an infection and to seek treatment.
10. Is it Okay to Shave, or Do I Need my Pubic Hair?
Whether or not you shave your pubic hair comes down to personal preference. It’s not actually necessary to the health of your vagina.
However, there are a few risks from removing pubic hair, depending on how it is removed. For example, you may experience symptoms like itching, irritation, razor burn, or cuts if the hair isn’t removed properly.
11. Should I Douche to Keep my Vagina Clean?
No. OB/GYNs recommend that you do not douche. Your vagina cleans itself naturally, so there’s no need to douche.
Douching can actually strip your vagina of the natural, healthy microbes, as well as temporarily change the natural acidity and cause buildup of harmful bacteria. That means your vagina is more likely to get an infection or a sexually transmitted infection.
12. Is it Normal for my Vagina to Smell Differently at Different Times of the Month?
It’s totally understandable why you might be concerned if there’s an odor coming from your vagina. Actually, it’s normal for a vagina to have a smell.
For example, you may notice a smell after changing your diet — certain foods or supplements can have that effect. It’s also natural for your vaginal odor to change in intensity and smell throughout menstruation.
But if there’s a foul odor, or if you notice a greenish or thick discharge, see your doctor. You may have an infection or a bacterial imbalance. Your doctor can prescribe medication to help treat the smell and underlying condition.
Talk to Your Doctor
Whether you might feel embarrassed or not, please speak up and talk openly and honestly with your doctor. There is never a silly question, and they are there to help you fully understand your body and make sure you are as healthy as you can be.
Every woman’s vagina is a little different from the next – the depth, smell, size, shape, and color aren’t the same for everyone. But if you’re concerned about anything related to your vagina, such as discoloration or a foul odor, speak with your OB/GYN – they are specialists in female pelvic health. Your doctor will be able to assure you if everything is normal or start you on a treatment plan if there are any underlying medical conditions.