Know Your V: The Real Difference Between Vulva And Vagina

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By Kendall McKenzie

I’m so glad you asked! Lots of people have this question. And, what’s funny is that most of them know what a vulva is; they’ve just been using the wrong name.

Most people call vulvas “vaginas,” even though that’s not technically correct. The vagina is actually just the tube inside that runs from the uterus and cervix to the vaginal opening. The vulva, on the other hand, is the all-in-one term for the entire external shebang: clitoris, urethral opening (pee hole), inner and outer labia (lips), vaginal opening, perineum (taint), and anus. That’s it! Just a simple name for our outside genitals.

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It’s important to know the correct names for our body parts and what they look like, so we can accurately talk about them with doctors and intimate partners. Yes, for realsies, we do actually encourage folks to explore their bodies and check out their “cha chas” with a mirror. Aside from being an important part of self-love and body positivity, knowing your genitals up close and personal makes it easier to tell if something goes awry down there. It can also help you learn how you like to be touched, which can make sex better. And, one of the coolest things about vulvas is how beautifully unique they all look — just like snowflakes.

So, for the love of snowflakes, go forth and spread The Gospel of Vulva!

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Beyond serving as a go-to source for vital reproductive care, the folks at Planned Parenthood— a team of knowledgeable experts in medicine, sexual health, and law — are passionate, informed advocates for knowing your own body. Planned Parenthood is here to tackle the big issues.