Stacey’s vulva puppet, Vivian. • PHOTO COURTESY STACEY JACOBS

Stacey’s vulva puppet, Vivian.
• PHOTO COURTESY STACEY JACOBS



Stacey Jacobs
Stacey Jacobs is the Community Sexual Health Educator at Planned Parenthood Waterloo Region,ppwr.on.ca, and has taught sexuality classes at the University of Waterloo. She has a Master of Science from the University of Guelph and is thinking about completing a PhD.

Let’s start out the spring with some fun facts about female genitalia.

If you are referring to external female genitalia the correct term is vulva. Vulva means covering and includes the inner and outer labia, the clitoris and the clitoral hood, the vestibule (the area between the inner labia), and the mons (the padding on top of your pubic bone covered in pubic hair).

However, most people refer to the entire external female genital area as the vagina. The vagina (or vaginal canal) is involved in menstruation, pregnancy and delivery. It is usually five inches long and leads to the cervix. This is separate from the vulva, although you can see the opening to the vagina (and the urethra) on the vulva.

These two terms are often confused. This may be because the vagina has many important functions in the reproductive process. Or it may be because the vagina is more often discussed medically.

Another reason could be because people rarely discuss female sexual pleasure, which is often derived from the clitoris and other areas of the vulva such as the vestibule and labia (most women do not orgasm with penetration alone). Or it could be that as a society we are predominantly concerned with heterosexual intercourse, reproduction and where a penis can go.

Whatever the reason, it is important to know that there is a difference between a vulva and a vagina, and what this difference is.

Now that you know, please pass this information on to others; including children, who I have heard confuse the term vulva with Volvo.

Vulva’s come in many shapes, sizes, colours, with attitude or without. However, if you are unhappy with how your vulva looks you can now design your own. Not only can breasts get augmented — vulva’s can as well. Vulval and vaginal augmentation can include: liposuction of the mons pubis, labiaplasties (the surgical reshaping of the vulva or labia — often a decrease in the labia minora), vaginal tightening, clitoral unhoodings and hymen repair. Often women are looking for nice, neat, small and symmetrical vulvas.

One of the reasons for these requests is that women want their vulva to look like the vulvas they have seen in magazines, in pornography or on the Internet. Men often expect the same.

What they don’t realize is that most of these women are airbrushed and cropped and have had surgery to look the way they do. They often bleach or dye their vulva skin and anus to make it pale and pink, usually adding a Brazilian bikini wax, sometimes a tattoo or piercing.

Women do not understand the beauty of their vulva, because they have never seen one that looks similar to theirs.

Worse yet, many women have never seen their own vulva. They know it is there, but they don’t want to see it, examine it or admire it. Every vulva is unique and beautiful in its own way and deserves respect.

If you have a vulva, make it your resolution to brush the dust off the hand mirror and take a look.