In a way, your parents weren't lying when they told you that you were a very special little girl. Not because you have unique talents that set you apart from the rest of the world (no, there are plenty of other people who can say the alphabet backwards); rather, it's because you and your vagina are totally, completely unique. There are no two vaginas in the world that look the same, smell the same, or feel the same. So yeah, I guess you could consider yourself a special chick.
However, the specialness of your vagina is less due to something you did or didn't do in your life, and more to due with the fact that there is no such thing as a "normal" vagina. So whatever script you had playing in your head about what a "normal" vag is, go ahead and scratch it. That said, there are some basic indicators down there that tell you what's happening with your overall health. For example, noticeable dryness, itchiness, and a cottage cheese scent tell you you've got a yeast infection (and possibly that you're way too stressed out). However, for the most part, your vaginal quirks are just that — harmless quirks.
Nevertheless, we still wonder whether the thickness of our labia is standard, or if the waviness of our pubes is ordinary. We can't help but ask these questions because the information we've been given about vaginas (and the stuff we see in porn) teach us very little about the varying shapes and sizes our pleasure boxes come in. So here's some reliable information to get you more acquainted.
Here are eight ways everyone's vagina is different.
1. Everyone's Vagina Smells Different
Come on, I know you've caught a whiff of your vag recently. What does it smell like? No, seriously, you should know what scents are coming from between your legs. That way, you learn what your vag smells like at each phase of your menstrual cycle, which will help you identify if and when the scent turns from "normal" to worrisome.
The first thing you should drill into your head is that your vag is supposed to have all kinds of scents. It can smell metallic when you're on your period, bleach-like when you're done having sex, musky when you're wearing a synthetic pair of underwear (stick to cotton, my friend!), and so on. And each cocktail of scents will be different than those that come out of another woman's cave down under.
Regardless of your own personal smells, though, there are some telltale signs that something's off. A fishy scent is never good, as that could point to a vaginal infection. Rotten fumes are cause for concern as well, as they usually indicate something is very wrong, like maybe there's a tampon up there you forgot about. Hey, it happens to the best of us. In these cases, call up your OBGYN so you can get the situation sorted and return to your natural aroma.
2. Every Labia Is Shaped And Sized Differently
Labias may be the least talked about part of the vag, and there is barely any research done on the average size of women's vaginal lips. Women's Health spoke with Brook McFadden, M.D., assistant professor of female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at Ohio State University, who studied the vagina sizes of 158 women and published her findings in the Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology, and she uncovered some pretty fascinating stuff.
You may want to grab a hand mirror so you can peek at your vag as you follow along. Dr. McFadden and her team of researchers found that the labia minora (your smaller inner lips) comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and the two lips are usually different sizes on each woman. On average, the left labia was 2.1 centimeters wide, with a range from 0.4 to 6.4 centimeters. The right was 1.9 centimeters wide, ranging from 0.3 to 7.0 centimeters. The average length of the left labia minora was the size of a baby carrot, 4 centimeters, and the range was from 1.2 to 7.5 centimeters. The right labia minora had an average length of 3.8 centimeters with a range from 0.8 to 8 centimeters. There's also your labia majora, which are your pouty outer lips. The average length of each one was 8.1 centimeters long, about the size of a nail polish bottle, and the range was 4 to 11.5 centimeters.
These numbers might mean nothing to you. But look closely at the range of width and length for each one. It's a huge playing field, meaning you could fall anywhere on that scale and you would still be considered normal, and you would probably have company.
3. Each Labia Is Colored Differently
Have you ever flipped through a little gem called the Labia Library? It's a photo gallery of many, many vaginas (do I need to mention it's NSFW?), proving that there really are no two that are exactly the same. One of the first things you notice is that the color is different on every woman. Some people have pink vaginas; others have more earthy tones, like brown or tan, going on. Sometimes the shade of your vag matches your skin color, sometimes it's a few shades lighter or darker, just like the lips you put lipstick on. It's different for everyone, so there's need to worry whether your color is normal.
4. Every Clitoris Is Placed Differently And Is A Different Size
Sorry, dudes, but the clit might not be where you think it is. Most of us think that the clitoris is just a tiny button at the top of our vulva, but that's not quite right; it's more of a wishbone, according to Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., associate professor at Indiana University and author of The Coregasm Workout. She told Buzzfeed Life that the clit actually has branches underneath the skin that extend outward from the knob we're familiar with. "These branches can potentially be stimulated from the outside," Dr. Herbenick says.
Let's talk about the button itself, though. Three quarters of your clit is internal and it's made up of 8,000 nerve endings. What differs, though, is the exact placement of it and what the clitoral hood looks like. What's the hood? Oh, it's just the flap of skin that meets the labia minora and partially covers your pleasure button. The size and thickness of your hood could also contribute to someone's difficulty in actually finding where your clit is located.
Your clitoris knob varies in size, too, a fact uncovered by Dr. McFadden and her labia size discoveries. The average width of the clitoris was 0.8 centimeters, and the range was 0.2 to 2.5. The average length was 1.6 centimeters, with the range existing from 0.4 to 4. Again, a huge span of measurements to fall into, meaning there sure are a lot of different looking clits.
5. The Size Of Your Vaginal Wall Is Unique
Dr. McFadden and her team of very curious researchers found that, on average, the vaginal canal is 9.6 centimeters long. That's about the size of a lip gloss tube. Whoa, right? But of course there is a wide range. Women's vag walls were anywhere as long as 6.5 to 12.5 centimeters. That's nearly double of a difference! She speculates the width of the vaginal wall falls in between the range of 2.1 to 3.5 centimeters. Apparently it is extremely common for women with a more narrow vaginal canal to experience pain during sex and when inserting a tampon. If this sounds familiar, talk to your doctor about what you can do to feel more comfortable.
The most interesting element is how much your vaginal wall morphs according to whatever situation it needs to deal with. It can expand and shrink in size when you're having sex (and, obviously, when you're giving birth). But despite what you may have heard/ feared, the size of your vag passage will not significantly change after you've had a baby. Research conducted in 1996 proved that there's no statistical difference on average between mom vaginas and non-mom ones.
6. Not Everyone Is Born With A Hymen, But If You Do Have One, It Differs In Thickness & Shape
Consider your mind blown. Dr. Herbenick told Buzzfeed Life that there are just some women out there who never had a hymen in the first place, so the whole idea of a "hymen check" to see if someone is a virgin is pure baloney. Additionally, the women who do possess this ring of tissue (no, the hymen is not a membrane that has to be roughly broken in order for intercourse to happen) have hymens that come in varying levels of color and thickness. Some are pink, others are white. Some are thicker at the bottom, while others are tough all around. Some are even shaped like a honeycomb. There isn't much research on hymen variability in women, which probably contributes to the overall mystery our society still lives in.
7. Everyone Has A Different Amount Of Discharge
Just like there's no such thing as a "normal" vagina smell, there isn't a "normal" amount of discharge you should be having, either. How much discharge you find on your panties at the end of every day depends on a lot of things — where you are in your menstrual cycle, the cleanliness and health of your vagina, and what kind of birth control you're taking. Some women see a lot more moisture down there than others. The kind of discharge you want to see is clear, white, and pasty. It's OK if it has a little odor to it, but the second it smells rotten or turns clumpy, yellow, or green, speak to your OBGYN.
8. Everyone's Got Different Pubic Hair
First thing's first: Don't assume that everyone's pubes matches what's on top of their heads. The texture and color your pubic hair doesn't have to look like what you've got upstairs, so don't worry if they couldn't be more dissimilar. Also, don't feel discouraged if your carpet below is thicker, darker, thinner, etc. than your bestie's. Your pubic hair will never look the same as anyone els's. And remember — you can do whatever you want with it! Like everything else related to your junk, it is specially and uniquely yours.
Images: Fotolia; Giphy (8)