IT'S a part of the anatomy that's shrouded in mystery, and powerful enough to cause a man to risk those things he holds dear to experience its magical wonders. Without it, life could not be given, and the sexual pleasures many now enjoy would not be known.
But for all the books, documentaries and newspaper features done on the vagina, this masterpiece -- as some consider it to be -- presents itself as a vexing marvel of natural engineering. Scientists are still struggling to agree on the intricacies of its design and find answers that could possibly explain the reasons behind the power it holds. With this search has come new discoveries and the debunking of myths that were once held as truths. Here are some of the facts you ought to know about the vagina, or whatever other name you choose to call it.
1. The vagina is just a part of a bigger picture. The vagina actually refers to the canal between the vulva and the cervix, as opposed to the whole of "down there" as we are often led to believe. Other parts of the female genitalia that you can expect to find "down there" also include the clitoris, the inner and outer labia, and the perineum.
2. The vagina cleans itself. There is no need to douche, because the vagina can clean itself without any help. "When you douche you cause the normal vaginal environment to be destroyed and so other things can flare up like yeast and bacterial vaginosis," explained obstetrician/gynaecologist Professor Horace Fletcher. There is also no need to wash inside your labia with soap either, just washing outside alone is good. The vagina's own lubrication will ensure that it stays clean and healthy.
3. The clitoris and penis start life the same way. Although clitorises have hoods and penises have foreskins, both organs basically look the same, up until about six weeks of gestation, when they begin to differentiate based on chromosomes. Even after this change starts to happen, the penis or the clitoris won't begin to form until some time after.
4. Orgasm is a powerful painkiller. Orgasm helps to relieve menstrual cramps and also produces the feel good hormone that reduces feelings of depression in women. "It releases endorphins into the bloodstream, producing a sense of euphoria and leaving you with a feeling of well-being," explained Professor Fletcher. "Good exercise can have a similar feel-good effect but probably to a lesser extent for some people," he said.
5. The G-spot is named after a scientist. It took a long while for doctors to locate this elusive pleasure zone, but most if not all agree that it exists and can be found by inserting your index finger into the vagina with palm facing upwards as you make a "come hither" motion. The G-spot is named after German gynaecologist Ernst Graefenberg, who first argued its existence in 1950.
6. There is an A-spot too. Yes ladies, there is yet another pleasure zone in the vagina that doctors say can help to give you an earth shattering climax. The A-spot is a bit harder to find than the G-spot, however, since it is situated deeper within the vaginal canal. Once located, the same "come hither" motion can be used to stimulate extreme orgasmic contractions. The "A" stands for anterior fornix erogenous zone.
7. The vagina is very powerful. The vaginal walls are made of contractile muscles which makes it possible to handle the process of childbirth, for example. While many speak of the power of the vagina in making people do crazy things, the physical attributes of it cannot be overlooked. Russian born Tatyana Kozhevnikova, for example, currently holds the world record for lifting 31 pounds using only her vagina. Like any other muscle, its physical strength can be improved with exercises such as the kegel exercise.
8. Pubic hair has a life expectancy. Pubic hair has a life expectancy of about three weeks, which explains why it can only grow so far and no more. It helps to protect the vagina from several forms of infections and helps to keep the vagina warm during cold times. As to whether you keep it or wax it, it's a personal decision.
9. The vagina ages too. In the same way your appearance changes with age, the vagina also wrinkles as you get older. The labia, for example, becomes less plump due to the reduction in oestrogen levels. The clitoris may also shrink and the skin of the vulva may darken. This, however, does not mean that you can't enjoy a good sex life.
10. It's possible to ejaculate as a female. We have always been told that a female cannot ejaculate, however, scientists believe it does happen, but it is often mistaken for urine during sexual intercourse. Female ejaculation was for the most part considered a myth in the past and is still considered to be so by some; but doctors have been slowly accepting the idea that it does exist. Whereas urine has a yellowish tint and comes from the bladder, this is not the case for female ejaculation.