Although you may have a vulva, it doesn't necessarily mean you know everything there is to know about vulvas. Unfortunately, in a society that doesn't put female pleasure front and center, it's hard for many people to know what's
typical for their vulva. Even though more people than ever are informed about their vulvas, it can still be difficult to ask your doctor questions about your vulva — or even know what to ask in the first place.
"Like an ear, a nose, or a myriad other body parts,
women’s genitalia comes in a variety of shapes and sizes," Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) Debra Ames tells Bustle. "Unfortunately, due to the proliferation of marketing, celebrity endorsements, and societal pressures, it’s become another area of the body for women to feel insecure about."
It's because of this insecurity that some people are afraid to either ask questions or educate themselves about their vulvas. But because no one should have to speculate when it comes to any part of their body and
vulvas shouldn't be left in the dark, it's important to intimately get to know this part of your body and what's going on with it. Here are five things that your vulva does that you might not be familiar with.
Usually when a body part swells, it's a sign that something is wrong. This isn't the case with the vulva. In fact,
when you're aroused, your vulva is supposed to get puffy from the blood that's made its way to it.
"[The vulva], including a clitoral erection (which you might be able to observe, or not, depending on the size of the clit and how much it's covered by the hood), is the comparable experience to a penis getting erect,"
Good Vibrations staff sexologist and author of The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone Carol Queen, PhD tells Bustle. "It means blood is flowing to the area, which is an important element of arousal."
In other words, you
want your vulva to swell when you're aroused.
While you may not notice it, your vulva does change color a bit when you're aroused. Again, the reason for the color change is because of the blood that has rushed to the area.
According to Dr. Queen, vulvas can change color from red to red-brown. In some rare cases, a vulva can actually look a bit blue, resulting in "blue vulva." So if you or your partner end up with a blue vulva, relax! It just means that's one really aroused vulva and once you orgasm, the color will go away.
To Have A Longer Inner Labia
Many people "have inner labia that are longer than, or protrude from in between, the outer labia," Dr. Queen says. "Sex educator
Dr. Betty Dodson famously says she always thought she had caused her labia to look this way by masturbating too much — but that's not how it works! Longer inner labia are a normal variation." It's because of this that Dr. Queen doesn't term them "labia minora" and "labia majora," which may be the terms you know from health class.
"Those phrases mean 'smaller' and 'larger,' and this can make people feel their body parts are not normal when in fact they are," Dr. Queen says.
To Get Really Sensitive Post Orgasm
According to Dr. Queen, many people's vulvas will be really sensitive
after you have an orgasm — especially the clitoris. Which you may have experienced if you ever climaxed, then immediately tried to climax again.
To Be More Sensitive To External Stimulation
Although there are those who can orgasm through penetration alone, the
many people with vulvas need clitoral stimulation to climax. It's because of this, that it's very common for your vulva's external parts to be far more receptive to stimulation than the rest of it.
"Partly this is due to the role of the clitoris, which could be termed the center of most women's sexual sensitivity," Dr. Queen says. "But partly it's because the nerves that serve the entire vulva are more sensitive to things like touch, stroking, and licking. The vaginal nerves carry messages of pressure, motion, and fullness to the brain — but the vulva responds to a wider variety of sensations."
Of course, what happens for one person isn't necessarily the same as another person's experience. That's why it's important to get to know your vulva, as well as all your body parts, so if something isn't in line with what you expect, you can go to your doctor and figure out what to do.