Do you have a vulva? Does someone you love have a vulva? Want to know how to keep it clean happy and healthy? Well, I gotchu vulvaphiles! Today’s post is all about the care and keeping of one of my favourite body parts. If you’d rather watch, instead of reading, here’s the video version:
What exactly is a vulva?
The vulva can be found betweens the legs, at the apex of the thighs. It’s made up of several parts including the outer lips (labia majora), the inner lips (labia minora), the urethral opening, the vaginal opening and the outer parts of the clitoris (the head, shaft and hood).
A vulva is NOT a vagina
As I mentioned, the opening of the vagina is a part of the vulva, but the vagina itself is a canal that runs up inside the body.
How do you get a vulva?
Some people are born with vulvas. Some people have them created as part of gender confirmation surgeries. Some people born with vulvas might still opt for cosmetic surgeries such as labioplasty, to alter the appearance of their vulva.
Keeping the vulva clean
Generally speaking, vulvas are pretty low maintenance. Most vulvas produce skin nourishing oils and healthy bacteria that keep things in balance down there. All you really need to clean the vulva is a gentle cloth and some warm water. Aggressive scrubbing and using perfumed soaps or body gels can throw off your vulvas pH balance, which can lead to skin irritation or infection.
After you go to the bathroom, wiping away from the vulva, towards the anus, helps keep unhealthy bacteria away from the vulva. If you have a baby or a toddler, you can keep their vulvas clean and comfortable by gently washing them with warm water at bathtime. Also changing diapers as soon as you’re able to will help reduce the chances of your little person getting rashes or irritated skin around their vulva.
Keeping the vulva comfortable
When it comes to underwear, vulvas love breathable, natural materials like cotton. I also find bamboo undies soft and super comfy. Going commando is also great for your vulva, as it allows the skin to breathe freely. If you do choose to forgo underwear, just look out for air vents when you’re walking down the street.
Hair removal and grooming
Most people with vulvas start growing hair on their outer lips once they start puberty. Some benefits of the bush include:
- having a cushion to protect the skin against friction from clothing and during sex with a partner;
- trapping the body’s natural pheromones – that natural hormonal scent that attracts sexual partners;
- protection from certain types of external bacteria that could otherwise get into our nether regions and mess up our balance.
Basically pubes are natural and useful and if you like yours, embrace that bush!
If you do decide to remove your pubic hair, remember that the skin on your labia is sensitive. If you want to shave, soaking in a warm bath for several minutes, applying a moisturizing shave gel, using a new razor and taking your time, will reduce your odds of painful nicks/cuts. If you’re waxing, lasering or doing electrolysis, a professional with lots of experience can help you get the results you want safely.
What does a “normal” vulva look like?
The short answer: “normal” vulvas look all kinds of ways. They’re kind of like faces. Most of them have the same basic features, but everyone’s features have their own individual combination of shape and size.
If most of the vulvas you’ve seen are from porn or health class diagrams, you may have an impression that the clitoris is a perfectly round button, the outer lips cover the inner lip and that Aeverything is perfectly symmetrical. Some people have a vulva like that but a LOT of people don’t.
It’s very common to have uneven lips, or to have the inner lips hang down lower that the outer lips. It also not unusual for the skin around the vulva to be darker than skin other places on your body – particularly for Black and Brown folks, like yours truly.
The clitoris, the hood, the lips change and even the vaginal position and size depending on a person’s level of sexual arousal. So Not only do vulvas look different from each other, a specific vulva looks different at different times.
Vulvas and sexual pleasure
During sex, a lot of people enjoy touching their vulvas or having their vulvas touched by their partner(s). Having clean hands, smooth nails can reduce the chances of irritating the skin. You or your partner might also choose to also wear gloves or finger cots.
If you’re exploring your own vulva, pay attention to what feels good for you and what doesn’t. The head of the clitoris is often described as the Holy Grail of sexual pleasure. It’s full of nerve endings, so it *can* feel really good to play there, but there may also be times when direct clitoral stimulation is too intense. If that’s the case, you can always focus your attention elsewhere A lot people really enjoy the feeling of having their lips stroked or gently tugged, or even running their fingers through their pubic hair.
If you’re playing with someone else’s vulva, ask them what feels good. And if they don’t know, ask them if they’re open to having you explore and if they can give you feedback on what’s working and what’s not. And of course, don’t just start poking around down there…make sure you have their authentic consent first!