Terminology Explained: I Think You Might Mean Vulva When You're Saying Vagina.

It has become common to refer to the totality of a woman's sex organs, or reproductive organs as the vagina. But is this actually correct?

What is the vagina?

The only part of the woman's body that is the "vagina" is the fleshy, moist tube that leads from the outside of the body to the cervix. To have a baby, the sperm will need to be deposited deep in the vagina near the cervix, and our periods come through the vagina, as well as the baby coming out when we give birth. Feces and urine do not come out of the vagina. The vagina does not grow hair.

Terminology Explained:  I think you might mean vulva when you're saying vagina.

What is the vulva?

What you see between a woman's legs is actually called the vulva, collectively. It is made up of several parts. Here is a diagram of the major parts:

Terminology Explained: I Think You Might Mean Vulva When You're Saying Vagina.

Calling a woman's vulva by the word vagina is about as sensible as saying the testicles are the penis. It's just a lack of understanding about the female anatomy that confuses people their whole lives. Think about it - we don't even teach women the correct names for their body parts. How strange is that?

Many women wonder what their own vulvas are supposed to look like, especially since our only exposure to the variety of vulva appearance may be through pornography, and porn producers are deliberately choosing women with small inner labia because it doesn't obscure the view of the penis in close-up shots. It is not the most "common" or most "popular" way for women to look. Our vulvas are as unique as our faces and may look many different while still being normal and beautiful.

This artwork captures a variety of ways that a (light complexion) woman's vulva may look:

Terminology Explained: I Think You Might Mean Vulva When You're Saying Vagina.

The size and appearance of the parts of the vulva do not relate to how "big" or "loose" a vagina is (for more on myths and truths of vaginal "tightness" read: https://www.girlsaskguys.com/sexual-health/a48115-the-rare-truth-about-tight-loose-women ). The labia do not increase in size due to sexual activity. They come in every variation of human skin color and may be darker, lighter or the same shade as the rest of the woman's body. Quite a bit of variation is normal. How close the vulva looks to what has been seen in pornography shouldn't be held up as a measure of how attractive a woman's vulva is.

Why do you think we keep using the wrong word to describe the vulva?


5|9
319
MlleCake is a GirlsAskGuys Editor
Who are Editors?

Most Helpful Guy

  • Definitely a growing problem. When describing health problems it is important to properly name the parts concerned. So often I see post on here about a rash on the "vagina", or itching "vagina", or questions about hair on the "vagina". Often I have answered a question about such things including that I am assuming they mean the vulva, and get a response from someone that vagina should be understood to mean the whole area. I get the impression that most people (male and female) have been taught the correct terminology, but choose to go with the popular, incorrect usage. That is confusing, and in discussions about sexual health, can be misleading and dangerous.

    I think that trying to get people to correctly identify what they are talking about is almost a lost cause. It must be terribly misleading and stressful to health care providers.

    2|2
    0|0

Most Helpful Girl

  • I blame lack of adequate sex education. All this abstinence only bullshit that doesn’t even teach proper anatomy ought to be a crime.

    3|2
    0|0

Recommended myTakes

Join the discussion

What Guys Said 18

  • Yes vulva is correct and most use vagina incorrectly because they can't see forest from a tree. But what difference does it make if it is bald most of the time? With porn spreading it all down to the cervix, little imagination is left for "vulva". They both start with a V, close enough, all you need is a good aim.

    2|0
    0|0
    • Except, the vulva is where all a woman's sexually responsive parts are located, so not even having a word for it, or ignoring the word for it, is part and parcel of the attitudes that ignore our pleasure. So, it matters. Where you aim your penis has so very little to do with female pleasure. We're just trying to get seen and heard here. Simple.

    • Who is we wg? Do you have a mouse in your pocket? More women use it incorrectly on here then the men. I actually see more men use it correctly including myself than women. no bs. Not many use it correctly, granted but pinks are worse at it. They don't appreciate it as much as some of us do.

    • than

  • Hmm, there are lot of things that are named wrongly. Who knows, maybe the part of some electric device has its proper name but we give it another, it doesn't mean we should all learn the exact name to use it in our daily life. Should we call marihuana: Cannabis Sativa? It's good we know the scientific name of the plant but it shouldn't imply exchange the colloquial word for the scientific one.

    0|2
    0|0
  • When I say vagina I mean washing machine. I put a load in my vagina just this afternoon. It came out all fresh :)

    Nice MyTake though, I agree with you 100%.

    0|0
    0|0
    • You're all about Info. This is info. I can see why you like it.

    • Yes, I do like the info. It also helps that I like the editor of said info though <3

  • Factually correct. While we are at it,
    Gender is really sex.
    Sex as commonly used, is intercourse
    Non intercourse sexuality is sexual intimacy.
    When I was a teen, I thought a Vulva was a stodgy Swedish car.

    0|0
    0|0
  • This is one of my pet-peevs too. I wonder if some boys call it a vagina because to say vagina would imply that its more than a place to insert their penis.

    1|0
    0|0
  • I think we use bad terminology because functionally no one cares and it works.

    0|2
    0|0
    • Except, some people care, and it also doesn't work.

    • Show All
    • I've no idea why you're taking offense when the world around you in totality is evidence. To be frank if what you're saying were the case you wouldn't be writing this article. You can't write am awareness article if everyone is aware.

    • On your bike.

  • Why is it important that we know the difference between vulvus and vaginas? Or the looseness and tightness ratio of certain women's mid sections?

    Eventually, it will balance itself out and swap places sometimes. So knowing where it is one day, may not be where it is the next if it expands or moves.

    0|0
    0|0
    • You're right. How could we possibly think that accurate information about anatomy could improve the human experience on this planet.

      Jesus did not ask you to leave your brains at the door.

      "Swap places"? The vulva doesn't swap places. WTF are you even saying? The clitoris doesn't wander away. The labia do not end up located where her elbows are. It IS possible to know these things. they are not an unknowable mystery.

      You may not care if your someday wife ever has an orgasm. But you will probably care that her body is healthy so she can continue to provide you with sex and bear children, and some of this is just fundamental, basic, no value-judgment anatomical fact.

      Why should anyone "know" or "learn" anything? Because knowing stuff is how life moves. The less stuff you know, the fewer choices you have.

    • Show All
    • I'm getting married July 6th.

    • Orgasms could be over rated since boys and girls babies are born with them with erections.

  • It's probably to do with a lack of focus in sex ed. They only have anatomy for a short part, while a good portion tries to either teach abstinence or safe sex.

    1|1
    0|0
  • Yeah, I'm annoyed when people say it's a vagina. The correct term is a vulva.

    0|2
    0|0
  • Yes, I needed to know this for my bridge game with my church friends.

    0|0
    0|0
  • I'll always use the word vagina for a vagina.
    I might say 'pussy' to name a vulva.

    0|0
    0|0
    • A very useful take!

    • Show All
    • Well, is he referring to candies she ate, or bits of poo? Rimbaud and Verlaine sure did like to get into the dirty mess of it all, didn' they?

    • Rimbaud and Verlaine sure!!!

  • What do you mean why? You're in the thick of people and ya don noo?

    Pop Culture.

    0|0
    0|0
    • I have my opinions. I was aking for other people's thoughts on it.

    • Show All
    • So can I. But there are sometimes other reasons to ask questions.

    • Such as?

  • That is correct! Sorry, I use their Aliases..

    0|0
    0|0
  • My terminology is now updated

    0|1
    0|0
  • I liked the pictures

    0|0
    0|0
  • the reason it gets called that is its easy to say

    0|0
    0|0
  • Interesting myTake. Those vulvas are ugly

    0|0
    1|0
  • I'm aware of this.

    0|0
    0|1

What Girls Said 2

  • I don't know. Vulva just doesn't roll off the tongue as easily.

    0|0
    0|0
  • Thank you!!! This has been bothering me so much

    0|1
    0|0

Recommended Questions

Loading...