Debunking 7 Common Lies About Vaginas
5 min read
by Amanda Melhuish | March 03, 2021
Misinformation about the vagina is widespread — and that’s incredibly harmful. Many of the myths come from misguided ideas around “cleanliness” or “purity” that can cause tons of unnecessary shame or even lead to violence. The reality of our society is: Plenty of people with vaginas don’t know that much about vaginas. And that’s definitely not their fault. With this taboo topic, many of us wouldn’t even know where to begin to learn more. We’re overexposed to bad representation on TV and shame-based marketing campaigns around things like “douches”. And only 13 states require sex ed to be ‘medically accurate’.
I personally didn’t even know other people had discharge until I saw Jenny Slate make a joke about her “cottage cheese” panties in Obvious Child. When I was a junior in college. COLLEGE.
It is well past time for easy, shame-free access to the *truth* about our bodies. To that end, today we’re debunking the most common lies about the vagina.
“vaginas should smell like flowers”
This is just a no. Vaginas do have a natural smell, but it’s not Chanel no. 5.! And it shouldn’t be! It’s a body! This lie causes people to feel embarrassed and resort to using fragranced products that do more harm than good.
“only women have vaginas”
Remember: Gender does not equal genitalia. People of many different genders (or no gender!) can have vaginas. And some women don’t have vaginas! This isn’t just semantics: Binary thinking isn’t backed up science.
Changing the way we talk about gender and body parts will help protect trans, intersex, and gender-nonconforming people from violence. According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 8 trans or gender-nonconforming people have been killed in 2021 so far. Many states still have yet to ban the “Gay Panic” or “Trans Panic” legal defense, which allows perpetrators to justify their crimes or minimize their severity just because of their victim’s sexuality or gender.
It’s also just basic respect. Other people’s genitals are none of your business and their gender isn’t up for debate.
“vaginas bleed when you lose your virginity”
First of all, virginity is a social construct that usually refers to a very heteronormative version of ‘sex’ based on penetration by a penis. So...that’s not very inclusive or accurate. A number of factors contribute to if you bleed the first time you have penetrative sex, including being comfortable, going slow, using proper lubrication, whether or not your hymen tore or stretched previously from a different activity, if your hymen simply stretches during sex instead of tears, you get the picture!
Speaking of hymens, there is truly no scientific way to physically look at a vagina and tell if someone has had sex or not. More on this later.
“vaginas are gross”
No, vaginas are self-cleaning — so pretty much the opposite of gross. To clean your V, all you need to do is wipe your vulva with soap like you do the rest of your bod. Nothing internal. No douches, no fragrances, nada.
“vaginal penetration is the only way to orgasm”
On average, penetrative sex is usually *not* the easiest way for people with vaginas to orgasm. The exposed part of the clitoris alone has more nerve endings than the penis! Many folks struggle to orgasm from penetration alone, and that’s because their clitoris is being ignored. Instead of judging yourself for not orgasming during penetration, explore all of your anatomy — and find what pleasures you.
“vaginas should be groomed”
Do whatever you want with your pubic hair. It’s your hair. It grows for a reason. It’s natural. If you’d rather remove it, that’s up to you, too! It’s your personal business. What you should know is that shaving your vulva with a razor can lead to ingrown hairs, which can lead to infection — so go slow, and take the proper precautions to landscape safely!
“vaginas hurt a lot during your first time”
Pain during sex—including the first time you ever have penetrative sex—is not normal. Often, the pain we think is “breaking your hymen” is actually discomfort caused by not enough foreplay, not using lube, or not feeling ready. This myth creates fear, and the fear causes us to be nervous, and feeling nervous causes us to tense, and the tension makes sex painful — what a vicious cycle!
If you decide to have penetrative sex for the first time, remember: pain isn’t something you just have to suffer through. Instead, communicate with your partner about what you’re feeling, try to relax, and go at whatever pace you need to (even if that means pressing pause).
Have you ever believed any of these lies? (I know I did until ~surprisingly~ recently!) Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments.
by Amanda Melhuish