From the hallways in grade school to just the random junk information people (men) spew into the world, there's a lot of myths floating around out there about vaginas. Which is a huge bummer, because so many people have them and they deserve to be CELEBRATED. Here's just a small sampling of the things you've definitely heard about having a vagina that are extremely untrue.
It makes you weak.A real moment of pride was when the mean boys who played tag every day at recess finally let a girl play with them, and then discovered that she was faster and generally more badass and athletic than they were. Nothing about having a vagina makes you weak, which is why we should altogether do away with using "pussy" as an insult. In no way is it bad or insulting to have a vagina.
Its sole purpose is to one day push out a baby.A fucked up thing I think about a lot is how I somehow understood that a baby would come out of my vagina before I really even knew what sex was. But here's the thing! Not everyone with a vagina wants to have a baby, and not everyone who wants to have a baby is born with a vagina. So this is a total myth.
It smells icky.Not true! All vaginas have a ~natural musk~ and anyone who tries to tell you that yours is gross can see themselves out. That said—if you notice a distinct change in your vaginal odor, or notice it is actually starting to smell fishy or bleachy, see your doctor. Certain odors are symptoms of infections like bacterial vaginosis.
It makes you less valuable at your job.Despite the persistence of the wage gap, having a vagina actually doesn't affect your work quality at all. If anything, it probably makes you a better worker because of things like imposter syndrome and feeling like you have to work twice as hard to get jobs other people fall into.
It bleeds a lot when you have sex for the first time.Some people bleed the first time they have sex, and some people don't. The bleeding associated with first-time sex is caused by the hymen stretching (not popping, and not breaking), but for a lot of people, they hymen stretches during other childhood activities like riding a bike or doing gymnastics. Bleeding isn't a fair barometer for figuring out if someone has or hasn't had sex yet, and if you don't bleed, don't be alarmed.
AND it hurts a lot when you have sex for the first time.If your hymen is stretching during first time sex, that can cause a little bit of pain. But not the HORRIFIC, SEARING pain all the girls in middle school had you terrified of. The most common culprit of pain during first-time sex is actually just vaginal dryness—something that can happen to anyone with a vagina at any time. Lube is your friend for the first and every sexual encounter you have.
It has to be perfectly groomed at all times.*Extended fart noise* NO. No. Nooooo. Your vagina, your choice. If you like to go au naturel, go for it. If you like to sculpt tiny crop circles into your pubes, also a great choice. But if you go with the crop circle option or any kind of hair removal, choose your products wisely. Scented lotions and soaps can be irritating to the vagina/vulva, and things like razor burn are just generally uncomfortable.
It never needs help getting wet.Wrong! Lube is everyone's friend. Use it all the time. Use more of it. Needing or using lube doesn't mean you're lacking in ~sexuality~, it just means you're a normal human who could benefit from a little assistance in the friction department.
It makes you crazy.For a very long time, doctors were diagnosing women with something called "hysteria" that was basically a fucked up, catchall "medical" term for any kind of mental issue a woman had. At one point, one of the cures for it was literally orgasm. Even though doctors aren't diagnosing people with hysteria anymore, the idea that people with vaginas are "crazy" is still very much a thing. Don't let it be.
It's the key to all of your orgasms.Ugh. Eye roll. No. Some people swear by vaginal orgasms, and that's great. But the clitoris—a structure that surfaces on the vulva and extends deep into the body—is analogous to the penis. Except! It actually has more nerve endings than the head of the penis does. Read: It's extremely sensitive, and is key to how a lot of people reach orgasm.
It should look a certain way.You're actually more likely to find two snowflakes that look the same than you are two vaginas/vulvas that look the same. From slight differences in skin tone, labia shape and size, grooming habits, and all the other little things that go into the complex landscape that is the vulva, there are countless variations in vaginal appearance. As long as you're paying attention to any swelling or bumps or redness, the way your vagina looks is healthy and great.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.