this word has caused chaos to both the black and white, literally and practically. There are so many myths and misconceptions we have believed about the vagina, some of which have shaped our practices towards our sexual health. One of the major misconceptions is that the whole outer female reproductive system is the vagina, whereas the vagina is only one part of the female reproductive system. As a learned person, I didn’t realize the difference between the urethra and the vagina until my late 20s. It's fascinating how we can go through life without realizing that there are separate organs for urine and menstruation. 

Many women, on their first sex experience, do not have a clue on where the male sexual organ is to be inserted into. Well, don't fret if you're uncertain about this – you're not alone!

Many people confuse vulva for the vagina. Let's clarify some terms. The vagina is a passageway, a tube connecting the womb to the outside of the body. It plays a vital role in sexual intercourse, menstruation and birth of a child. The vagina is just a part of the vulva. 

On the other hand, the vulva is the external part of the female reproductive system, and it consists of two sets of skin folds known as the Labia minor and the labia majora, urethra( where urine is released from), clitoris, bartholin's glands (for lubrication during sex) and mons pubis. 

As all women are different, so does vagina vary from woman to woman. 

Additionally, the length of the vagina can increase when sexual arousal occurs.

Here's an important fact: The vagina is self-cleaning. It has a way of maintaining its bacterial flora and pH level. Unless there is an infection, the vagina does not need any form of special care besides basic hygiene which involves washing with an unscented soap and water. 

Maintaining the normal pH of the vagina is integral to keeping it healthy. The vagina has an acidic pH in the range of 3.8-5. Bad practices like douching can alter the pH of the vagina and result in Urinary tract infections. Other factors that can alter the pH level of the vagina includes presence of semen, hormonal changes due to menopause, taking antibiotics, bacterial infection etc

Many women experience recurrent vagina infections in the first few months of constant sexual intimacy. This may be because of the basic pH of the semen that alters the acidic pH of the vagina. This may occur repeatedly for a period of time, after which the woman's body adjusts. 

I encourage every woman to take responsibility for their sexual health, regularly look and observe the outer female reproductive system, identify them and clean up appropriately. 

Bolade Alonge

Bolade Alonge is a Pharmacist with experience in clinical practice with certifications in Public Health. She has a keen interest in Sexual and reproductive health education. You can send her an email and connect with her on social media:

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