Read my lips... Where’s the vulva?

The vagina is a magical thing. However, unlike the penis, the vagina's pleasure can be less straightforward. Many people don't understand the anatomy around a vagina, let alone how to give it a pleasure. How empowering would it be to unlock the mysteries that surround it?

A key to this is understanding the vulva. Understanding what the vulva is, what the vulva looks like, where it's located, and its function will contribute to better sexual health and satisfaction.  

What is the vulva?

The vulva is the outside of the female sexual organs. The word vulva comes from Latin and means wrapper. It is the part of the female genitalia that you can see, and it protects the internal sexual organs, the urinary tract, and the vagina. It is also central to the female sexual response.

Is the vagina the same as the vulva?

No! Not at all! The vulva is the first thing you see when you look down below. It's the outside of the female reproductive system. The vagina, on the other hand, is on the inside. The vagina is part of what the vulva protects and is not ordinarily visible. 

Where exactly is the vulva, and what does it look like?

vulva stimulating

The vulva begins at the mons pubis – the area covered by hair in front of the pubic bones on the lower part of the stomach. 

Below the mons pubis is the clitoral hood and clitoris. The clitoris is the pleasure center of the vulva and swells with blood when excited. 

Below the clitoris are two folds of skin known as the labia majora and labia minora – sometimes referred to as "lips." These lips fold over the urethral and vaginal openings. The urethra is the tube that passes urine from the body. The vagina connects to the cervix and uterus.

Below the labia is the fourchette, where the labia meet again. Underneath the fourchette is the perineum, which extends from the fourchette to the anus.

What do the parts of the vulva do?

The Labia Majora and Labia Minora: Often called the "lips," these two skin folds protect the urethral and vaginal openings. They both become engorged during sex. In every woman, the size and shape will differ.

Clitoral Hood: The clitoral hood is the little flap of skin that covers the tippy top of the clitoris. It slides back and forth on the clitoris and protects it from inadvertent stimulation. It can also be called the glans.

The Clitoris: The clitoris is a large wishbone-shaped part of the female sex organs. It can be seen and accessed from the outside, but a large part of the clitoris is also internal. Scientists speculate that g-spot pleasure is linked to the clitoris, though it has not been verified. We know that the clitoris is much larger than previously thought, and it is at the root of much sexual pleasure for women. When stimulated, blood flows to the clitoris, and its soft tissue enlarges. 

The Urethra: The urethra is the tube by which urine leaves the body. The opening inside of the vulva is where the urine is pushed out. This is not the same as the clitoris, though they can easily mix up. The clitoris is located above the urethra.

The Vaginal Opening: The vagina is a long tube (for lack of a better word), and its opening is located in the vulva. While the opening is in the vulva, the vagina is much larger inside. It is a stretchy muscle that opens, closes, stretches, and even lubricates itself. It connects the vulva and the internal sex organs. 

Are all vulvas the same?

Definitely not. Just as vaginas differ in size, shape, color, and scent, there are similarly many vulva appearances.

Does the vulva change over time?

Does the vulva change over time

The main events that cause the vulva to change are puberty, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. What a healthy vulva looks like will change depending on your stage of life. 

Puberty: During puberty, pubic hair starts to grow above the vulva. It also usually grows in and around the labia. The hair will become thicker and curlier with time. The labia minora will also increase and widen, and sometimes the vulva will change color. 

Pregnancy: With the increase of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy, blood to the vulva will increase. This may cause the vulva to swell or the skin or vaginal opening to darken. Some people also develop temporary hemorrhoids in their vulva, vagina, or anus.

Childbirth: The vagina stretches to accommodate the baby when you give birth. This means that the vulva will expand and sometimes tear. With appropriate after-care and time, these are generally repaired.

Menopause: With age, the entire body feels the effects of living, and the vulva is no exception. When going through menopause, the permanent drop in estrogen may result in your vulva tightening and becoming drier.

If you have concerns about these changes at any point in life, be sure to bring them up with your doctor. Don't wander silently! 

Are thongs okay for vulvas?

Multiple studies have shown that specific underwear styles and health are not linked. The underwear's material – breathable is best, personal hygiene, avoiding douches, and other lifestyle choices are more significant in keeping your vulva healthy

Another myth surrounding the vulva is the myth of the "blue vulva." While it is true that a clitoris can turn blue after an extended period of arousal, it isn't necessarily the same as blue balls. 

It is more likely that someone might feel frustrated or physically uncomfortable after not orgasming for a long time, but blue is not always a feature of the blue vulva. 

What are the best ways to pleasure the erogenous zones of the vulva?

how to stimulate the vulva

Not only is the clitoris the most erogenous zone of the vulva, but it is also the most erogenous spot in the female body. The clitoris is said to have about 8,000 nerve endings, which is twice as many nerve endings as the entire penis.

There are so many ways to pleasure the vulva. The clitoris is a great place to start, but the vaginal opening and anus are also fun and pleasurable places to explore. 

Some general tips are:

  • Explore! Hot spots on the vulva can change.
  • Try stimulating the vaginal opening about ⅓ of the way inside to find the g-spot.
  • Move around and switch up the motions or positions you use to stimulate the clitoris.
  • Try a sex toy like a dildo or a clitoral vibrator.

What are the best types of sex toys to pleasure the vulva?

The best types of sex toys for stimulating the vulva are anything used to stimulate the clitoris. This could mean dildos, vibrators, or sex toys like the rabbit, which enables the clitoris and vagina simultaneously. 

The gateway of the vagina

The vulva is the gateway to the vagina. Though often overlooked, it protects the vagina and provides the female sexual system with its pleasure center. Learning about the vulva and its functions empowers anyone who has or loves a vulva. Your health and pleasure depend on it!


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Can You Label Your Anatomy?. (October 2019). The Chatty Gal. 

Anatomy of the Vulva. (2021). University of Rochester Medical Center: Health Encyclopedia.

Labia problems. (January 2019). healthdirect. 

Everything You Need to Know About the G Spot. (June 2018). Healthline. 

Lopsided Vagina: Are My Labia Normal?. (March 2019). Healthline. 

Vulvovaginal Health. (June 2021). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 

What happens to your vagina and vulva as you age?. (February 2016). ABC News. 

8 Underwear Rules to Live by for a Healthy Vagina. (September 2019). Healthline.

The No BS Guide to Clitoral Stimulation. (November 2018). Healthline. 

10 Things You Never Knew About the Clitoris. (October 2015). Health.

Yes, Women Can Also Get Blue Balls—It's Called 'Blue Vulva.' Here's What You Need to Know. (March 2021). Health.