What's Normal in a Healthy Vagina?
Women tend not to know what a 'normal' vagina looks or feels like. After all, we don't compare our vaginas with our girlfriends'. And without any point of comparison, some women worry that theirs is not normal in some way.
The truth is that there's no such thing as a 'normal' vagina, as such. They are unique to each woman, so if yours is healthy and functional, then it's normal.
It's important for women to understand what a normal vagina looks like for them so that they know when they are healthy and they know to look for anything out of the ordinary.
Understanding what is normal and abnormal when it comes to vaginal health is essential for every woman.
From discharge consistency to odor, texture, and color variations, this article aims to shed light on the various aspects of a healthy vagina, debunk common misconceptions, and empower women with knowledge about their bodies.
By demystifying these topics, we can promote open discussions surrounding vaginal health while helping individuals distinguish between what is typical versus concerning. In this article we will look at what's normal for a healthy vagina and what you can do about any problems that you're experiencing.
What's Normal for a Vagina?
Every individual human body is unique, and just like your fingerprint is yours alone, so is the size, shape and colour of your vagina. There are some characteristics that are common, though, even if their point of commonality is that they can be different!
The external part of the vagina is called the vulva.
The labia majora (outer lips) and labia minora (inner lips) of the vulva come in different shapes and sizes among women. Some have smaller or barely visible inner lips that stay within the outer ones, while others may have larger inner lips extending beyond the outer lips.
The outer labia might be plump or lie more flat. They may or may not be visible from the front. Some inner labia are smooth and straight, while others are asymmetrical, creased or wrinkled.
All of these types are normal variations of the appearance of a vagina.
Just like skin tones vary from individual to individual, so does the colour of the labia. Regardless of her skin tone, the colour of a woman's labia can range from pale pink to darker shades such as brown or purplish hues. These differences are influenced by genetics and hormonal factors but do not indicate any abnormalities.
The vaginal canal serves multiple functions, including facilitating sexual intercourse, childbirth, and menstrual flow.
In adult women, the length of the vaginal canal is approximately 6 to 7.5 centimetres (2.4 to 3 inches) when in a relaxed state. However, during sexual excitement, it can expand up to twice its resting length due to increased blood flow and the relaxation of muscles.
Just like any other body part, though, there can be natural variations in vaginal canal size among different individuals. Some women may have shorter or longer vaginas compared to others within this normal range without any health concerns.
Factors Affecting the Size of the Vagina
While a certain amount of variation is normal, some factors can influence the length and width of the vaginal canal, including the following.
- Genetics - Just like the colour of your eyes or the shape of your hands, the size and shape of your vagina may be inherited from your familial lineage.
- Age - Vaginal dimensions are known to change over a woman's lifespan. During puberty, hormonal changes cause development of the reproductive organs, including the vagina. With age—especially during menopause—declining estrogen levels lead to thinning and shrinking of vaginal tissues (vaginal atrophy), resulting in reduced elasticity and potentially altered dimensions.
- Pregnancy & childbirth - Pregnancy significantly impacts the structure and size of the vagina due to natural stretching during childbirth. Women who have had multiple pregnancies or delivered larger babies may experience more pronounced changes in their vaginal dimensions post-delivery.
- Pelvic floor muscles - The tone and strength of pelvic floor muscles also influence vaginal dimensions. A weak pelvic floor can result in looseness within the vaginal walls, while strong muscles tend to offer better support.
Can I do Anything to Affect the Size of My Vagina?
If you're concerned about the size of your vagina, what you're probably feeling is a certain looseness. There are several exercises and treatments that can improve the tightness of your vaginal muscles, including pelvic floor exercises, yoga or pilates and pelvic floor training devices.
A women's health physiotherapist can provide expert advice and treatment to improve the muscle tone of your vagina.
Emissions from the vagina are a normal physiological occurrence that is important for maintaining vaginal health and cleanliness. It helps to prevent infections by flushing out dead cells and bacteria from the reproductive system.
You might notice, though, that vaginal discharge can change throughout the menstrual cycle.
Characteristics like the consistency, odour and colour of vaginal fluid can all be different depending on where you are in your cycle. The consistency can change from thick and sticky to thin and watery. The smell might be odourless or slightly sweet or musky. The colour may vary from clear to brown or pink.
Vaginal Discharge when Pregnant
In early pregnancy, increased production of both estrogen and progesterone leads to changes in vaginal discharge patterns as well. Higher progesterone levels result in thicker secretions that may appear white or yellowish. Pregnant women often experience an overall increase in discharge volume due to hormonal fluctuations and increased blood flow to the vaginal area.
There is also a specific pregnancy-related discharge called leukorrhea. It tends to be odourless or mild-smelling and protects against infections.
When to Seek Help
If your vaginal discharge is yellow or greenish, or if you get a strong fish-like odour—especially if it comes together with itching or irritation—then you should seek medical attention, as these symptoms can indicate an infection.
What you can do to Keep Your Vagina Healthy
Get to know what's normal for your vagina. Understanding what is normal in a healthy vagina is essential for women to maintain their overall reproductive health and well-being.
While there can be variations in vaginal discharge, odor, and appearance among individuals, it is crucial to differentiate between normal changes and potential signs of infection or other underlying conditions.
To maintain good vaginal health, don't skip your regular gynecological check-ups. Open communication with healthcare providers and practicing good hygiene habits are both key factors in maintaining a healthy vaginal environment.
By staying informed about the natural fluctuations that occur within their bodies, women can feel empowered to take charge of their sexual health and seek appropriate medical attention when needed.
If you have any concerns about your vaginal health or other women's pelvic health problems, call Magdalena on 07877 017 936 or drop PelviCare an email for a no-obligation chat. Alternatively, you can book an appointment online for treatment.
PelviCare Women's Health Physiotherapy is located in Greenwich, London, serving women across South London, East London, Essex, Kent and beyond.