I was recently invited a fun evening event for women and was honoured to be one of a few speakers on sexuality, health and wellness. Not surprisingly, I decided to present on my favourite body part to talk about: THE VAGINA! The vagina is such a mystery organ. So many people have one yet we rarely talk about it. We have nicknames for it like va-jay-jay and cookie box and even just saying the word elicits giggles even from the most mature adults. But everyone, even if you don’t have a vagina, needs to know about this extraordinary organ!*

1.    Your vagina may not be what you think it is.

What many people think is their vagina is actually their vulva. “Vagina” is not a name for the collective genitals, rather it’s a muscular tube that runs from the vulva to cervix (the entrance to the uterus).

2.    Your vagina has more in common with sharks than you realize.

The lubricant produced by the vagina contains a compound called squalene, which is the same compound that is found in the livers of sharks. Controversially, squalene is also used in many cosmetic products, such as moisturizing lotions, sunscreens, and hair products.

3.     You can’t lose anything up there!

So don’t worry about condoms and tampons escaping and wandering around your body. The cervix isn’t big enough so it blocks anything from getting through.

4.     Sex keeps your vagina healthy. It keeps your juices and blood flowing, like a workout for your vagina. And that includes masturbation, by the way.

5.    The vagina is like a fine bottle of wine.

The normal pH of the vagina is 4.5, which is same as wine. Good bacteria keeps the pH low and the vagina protected. If the pH gets too high, though, the balance gets thrown off and could lead to a yeast infection. Yeast infections can be cured easily with medication, but can be passed to partners during sexual contact. So wait until it’s gone. Which brings me to #6…

6.    Yeast loves sugar so don’t put it in your vagina.

Whipped cream, honey and chocolate syrup might sound like a tasty adventure, but putting them inside the vagina could lead to a yeast infection. Not hot.

7.    The vagina is like a self-cleaning oven.

It constantly makes moisture just like your eyes do to keep itself clean. So there’s no need for regular steams or “vagacials” like Gwyneth Paltrow recommends, just wash the vulva once a day with warm water.

8. The clitoris is bigger than you think and shaped like a wishbone rather than button.

I know that it’s not a part of the vagina, but I just couldn’t pass up the chance to talk about this amazing piece of female genitalia. The clitoris is considered by many women to be the key to sexual pleasure, and it’s no wonder; the tip of the clitoris alone has a whopping 8,000 nerve endings — more than double the number of nerve endings in the penis — making it the most sensitive part of the female body. And if you aren’t already impressed enough, research has shown that the clitoris can increase in size by up to 300 percent during sexual arousal.

9.    The vagina doesn’t fart!

All people with vaginas have experienced the embarrassing yet uncontrollable emission of air from the vagina, commonly known as “queefing.” Kids actually ask me about this all the time. Yes, queefing sounds a lot like farting, but it’s not. The puffs of air that emerge are simply that — trapped air that is being released from the vaginal canal. They are not “farts” in the traditional sense because they are not waste gases, nor do they emit an unpleasant odor.

10.    It’s not all about the G-spot.

At least not in the sense that there is a button in your vagina that, when pressed, leads to orgasm. It’s a bit more complex than that (surprise!). For years, researchers have suggested that there’s an area about an inch or two up on the inside front wall of the vagina (the side closest to your belly button) that is associated with intense pleasure. That’s why men’s magazines have all kinds of ideas as to how to stimulate it. But the G Spot may not actually be a real organ. It doesn’t show up in imaging research, and not all women report having G-spots, or being able to find one on themselves. So what does this mean? Well, new research is pointing to the idea that instead of there being a particular spot or button that causes orgasms, the clitoris, urethra, and front side of the vaginal wall all work together as a “clitourethrovaginal complex.” When all three are stimulated just right, it can result in what some people refer to as a vaginal orgasm (aka a G-spot orgasm). Good luck with that one :).

11.    When aroused, the vagina can expand to around twice its normal size.

Unaroused, the average vagina is about three to four inches deep. But during sex it can expand to about twice as big. That’s partially because of a process called vaginal tenting, which is what happens when you get aroused. There’s more muscular tension in the body, which draws the uterus upward, creating more space in the vagina lengthwise.

12. Not all females are born with hymens.

And for those who do have hymens, they range in thickness and amount of coverage. Not only that, but most hymens shrink to barely noticeable size by age 25. What this means: You can’t actually tell if someone is a virgin or not by doing a “hymen check” and people with a vagina may not bleed or experience pain the first time they have sex. Also, who cares! Obsessing about virginity is so 90s.

Let’s end on a positive note…

13. Your vagina won’t be noticeably different after you have babies.

Vagina is only organ that can stretch and then snap back into shape. There is actually no statistical difference in average recorded vaginal size between people who’ve had babies and people who haven’t. And this isn’t new news, we’ve known this from research for a long time. I love that the vagina is so resilient!

*I acknowledge and respect the fact that not all women have a vagina and not all people with a vagina identify as women.