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24 Things Gynecologists Want You To Know About Your Vagina

"Is this normal?!"

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We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us questions they had about their vaginas that they were too scared to ask.

Then we spoke with board-certified gynecologists Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive science at Yale School of Medicine; and Dr. Alyssa Dweck, a Westchester-based OB-GYN and co-author of The Complete A to Z for Your V, to get their expert responses on these questions.

And here's what they had to say:

1. Is a bumpy inner labia normal? —Kara Shank, Facebook

Getty

Minkin: "Absolutely, yes. The remnants of the hymenal ring are what you may actually be feeling — it’s pretty bumpy. Carunculae myrtiformes is the fancy word for the little bumps on the hymenal ring."

Dweck: “If all of a sudden you have bumps, that’s not normal. But in general, inside skin of the labia is smooth, but not necessarily flat. If you’re growing teeny bumps that look like cauliflower or warts, that’s a different story and should get checked out. But skin, especially where there’s hair, will not be 100% smooth. Also, after having kids, sometimes that can create scar tissue and may cause some peaks and valleys.”

2. Is it common to get multiple hair strands (like two to four) growing out of one hair follicle in the pubic area? And is there a way to fix that? —LaSangronaCabronaMasChingonona

Miramax Films

Minkin: "Just leave them alone — it’s totally fine."

Dweck: "With shaving, you can get ingrown hairs. These sometimes can look like they’re two or three hairs coming out of one follicle, but usually it's just one folded on itself. Yes, you can get more than one hair growing out of the same place. Also, be mindful of the way you remove pubic hair. Hydrocortisone cream and Bikini Zone can help prevent this problem."

3. Is it normal for my labia to be sticking out? —Anonymous

Panel 1 of 10 from The Great Wall of Vagina by Jamie McCartney. ©Jamie McCartney / Via greatwallofvagina.co.uk

Minkin: "Absolutely. Looking at the vulva has grown out of the trend of waxing/shaving. Everything you see is normal."

Dweck: “Labias come in many shapes, sizes, and forms, so, is it normal? Sure. What is NOT normal is if there is discomfort from chafing or discomfort with intercourse or inserting a tampon, but this can be addressed by a surgeon. There is no 100% ‘normal.’”

4. Does the "shape" of your vulva — an innie, an outie, or somewhere in between — mean anything for your health or sexual health? —KC

ebay / Via reddit.com

Minkin: "Nope. It’s all normal."

Dweck: “Only if the shape is causing you discomfort or if there are sexual self-esteem problems, then you can talk to someone about it or seek counseling. There are many shapes and sizes, so there is no definition of normal/not normal. Some women are born with labia that are dramatically different in size and this can be fixed with surgery if they desire.”

5. When aroused, where does the wetness of the vagina come from? Also, what is its proper name and what is it composed of? —Lorena Garca Cedillo, Facebook

Comedy Central

Minkin: "There are several glands that line the opening of the vagina: urethral glands, Skene’s glands, and also Bartholin’s glands — those in general provide the moisture to the opening of the vagina and also the walls/cells of the vagina. As long you have estrogen around (i.e., you're not menopausal), you are making moisture on your own, but when you’re aroused you make more fluid."

Dweck: “The walls of the vagina become engorged because more blood flow comes to the entire area. This causes an exudate to come out of the vaginal walls. The cervix also produces mucus — there are glands that create this. Also, the glands around the vagina create mucus/secretions.”

6. How often is TOO often to be masturbating? Is it possible to damage the clit from "excessive" masturbation? —a4737ea63c

HBO

Minkin: "It would be highly unlikely to damage the clit — maybe if you masturbated 24 hours a day, but otherwise there is no health issue. Vibrators are fine, but the only problem with vibrators is you can get used to strong stimulation — it's not medically dangerous, but it can make it harder to climax without."

Dweck: “If you can’t get to work on time because you’re busy masturbating, or having a problem with your relationship, then it is a problem. But most women masturbate and the time they do it varies. Can you hurt yourself? If you’re too vigorous and too intense with it, you’ll know because it will be uncomfortable.”

7. Vaginal penetration does absolutely nothing for me. If anything, it turns me off. Is it normal to feel no pleasure from penetration? —Anonymous

Flo Perry / BuzzFeed

Minkin: "In general, it’s not weird. Many women cannot orgasm from vaginal action — it’s usually clitoral. If it’s turning you off, there may be something going on pain-wise and you should check in with your OB-GYN."

Dweck: “Some women do like the feeling of the full vagina during sex, and some women consider that their G-spot's being stimulated during sex. Some women do get stimulation from vaginal penetration. Something like 70% of women only orgasm from clitoral stimulation.”

8. How much (if any) bleeding is normal after having sex for the first time? I know people who didn't have any bleeding at all while others were spotting for days after. —nms124

Warner Bros.

Minkin: "All of the above is normal — a lot depends on the hymenal ring. Some have a thicker plate than others."

Dweck: "Some women bleed the first time, some don’t. If it lasts for more than a few hours or a day, and you’re soaking through pads, you may want to touch base with your gynecologist. The vagina has a rich blood supply, so even the smallest cut or abrasion can LOOK like a lot of blood. You may bleed a little and it shouldn't be excessive.”

9. It's really hard for me to get wet and STAY wet during sex. What's the cause and how do I fix that? I know lube is a thing, but it just doesn't feel safe or healthy for my body. —brittanyb4814452ad

FX

Minkin: "Many lubes can be quite safe and when you do buy a lube, don’t buy the giant economy size. See if it agrees with you first. If you’re not liking something your partner is doing, tell them. Communication is important. There are certain times when moisture is an issue (certain birth control pills may decrease moisture) — check in with your provider. You may have a low-grade vaginal infection that may be affecting the moisture, but again, check in with your provider."

Dweck: “Lube is a good option. But also get to the bottom of what is causing the dryness. It could be birth control pills, antihistamines, or hormone changes (breastfeeding, menopause). Make sure there’s no infection, then consider a lubricant. You could use coconut oil or saliva if you don’t want to use over-the-counter lubricant.”

10. Does frequent, deep penetration contribute to infertility? —Anonymous, Facebook

US National Archives / Via giphy.com

Minkin: "Nope. As long as you don’t have an STD, penetration is not an issue at all."

Dweck: "No."

11. Is there any way to know if your cervix is low? My significant other and I can't do certain positions because the sex is so painful for me. If he goes too deep I feel a sharp pain and we have to stop or else I will get cramps. —ccrg94

HBO

Minkin: "Check in with your gynecologist/practitioner. There are conditions in which the pelvic organs are not so mobile because of something like endometriosis. So, if you’re experiencing pain from penetration, check in with your provider."

Dweck: "Go to your gynecologist, because you might have a cyst on your ovary or fibroid on your uterus — something that’s getting bumped around mechanically during sex. Yes, the cervix and uterus can become low and relaxed in certain people. It could also just be the position of your uterus or cervix. Some people have a backward-pointing one. If you change positions or get on top, it could help you guide the penetration.”

12. What can women use to keep from being too sweaty in the genital region throughout the day now that baby powder is no longer an option? —Bellawish

20th Television

Minkin: "There are no particular deodorants. When you’re washing the area, be careful — I never recommend deodorant soaps down there. Use Neutrogena or Dove. Something gentle."

Dweck: “I would recommend changing the crotch of the underwear or clothing you’re wearing on your genitals. There’s a brand called Go Commando — cotton shields that absorb moisture for people who don't want to wear underwear. I don’t advise ANY powder that contains talc in the genital area because of risks of ovarian cancer, but cornstarch or non-talc-containing powder is fine.”

13. Is it okay if I sweat a lot down there? Like, literally my underwear is damp all the time! I take showers every day and I consider myself a very clean person but this issue bothers me and makes me really uncomfortable. —pauucasillasb

FX

Minkin: "People who are heavy can sweat more. Some people are just major sweaters, and there’s not much you can do."

Dweck: "Make sure you talk to your gynecologist and rule out any signs of infection."

14. I feel that I have discharge every day of my life and it is really hard to wear leggings without smelling an odor coming from down there. Is there something I could do to make this stop? —kiana

Paramount Pictures

Minkin: "Some people do have more discharge than others. It can be biological or sometimes it’s an infection. In general, a lower pH is better for the vagina: It keeps away the bacteria. If you feel you are making more moisture than you can handle, sometimes birth control can help — it might dry you up a little bit."

Dweck: "Usually a fishy odor signals BV — an imbalance of the typical bacteria and yeast in the area that can wreak havoc with the pH levels."

15. What does a clean vagina smell like? Does it have no scent? —maddiec49bdbe126

Nickelodeon

Minkin: "A clean vagina DOES have a scent! There’s a normal smell. It doesn’t smell like fish, but it also doesn’t smell like water or nothing. It’s hard to describe."

Dweck: “The vagina is like a self-cleaning oven. If there's a strong odor, you need to get it checked out. Everyone has an individual odor or aroma.”

16. Sometimes I get a discharge that has a goo- and snot-like consistency. Is that normal? —hallef49aed4aa1

Columbia Pictures

Minkin: "That is normal — and what many women will notice is, around ovulation, mucus changes. You get a sort of sticky, stringy mucus coming from the cervix."

Dweck: “This sounds normal to me. Most women get mucus discharge mid-cycle. If it has a bad odor, or if it persists all cycle long, and is copious, get it checked out.”

17. Would using scented lotion on your vulva have a negative effect on your pH balance or cause other harmful problems? —thelittlecanadian92

Bravo

Minkin: "Yes — I tend to stay away from anything that’s scented. It’s just that the vulvar tissue is THE most sensitive tissue on the body, and I don’t want people getting an allergic reaction."

Dweck: "Some woman can use anything — others need all hypoallergenic. Vigorous cleaning is not needed."

18. How do you get comfortable putting a tampon in? I get so nervous that I might hurt myself that I can't do it. —splishplashrain

Loryn Brantz for BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

Minkin: "You can always get a lubricant to make it helpful. Or, next time you go to your primary care doctor, have them go through it with you — bring your tampon with you and say, 'Can you help me guide it in?'"

Dweck: “There is a chance you could just be nervous, which causes your muscles to tighten. You could also have a structural issue; for instance, your hymen might be too thick. Start with the smallest or most slender junior tampon. Or go to your OB-GYN: A doctor would be more than willing to help you.”

19. I use a menstrual cup, and after two to three days of wear, I get so itchy! I only rinse the cup with very hot water when I change it out. I was washing with soap, but I read that might be what is causing the irritation. Still itches even without using soap. Is this a normal problem? —tatorbubbles

Sheep Films / Via giphy.com

Minkin: "You might want to try something like Rephresh [vaginal gel], because around the time of your period, your blood has a pH of over 7, so it may be an imbalance in the vaginal tissue."

Dweck: “Either change it out more frequently, try a different soap like Dove or Ivory, or consider the material of the cup. That may be what you’re having a reaction to.”

20. I've missed my period the past couple of months but I'm not sexually active. Is this normal? —yasminenegrete

Crystal Ro / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

Minkin: "Skipping can be alarming and if that keeps happening check with your provider. There are many things that can cause a skipped period — exercising, weight gain, stress from school or work, your thyroid. It’s a very delicate balance."

Dweck: “Other things that can cause you to not have a period could be stress, altered thyroid, if you have an eating disorder, or are exercising excessively. It could also be polycystic ovary syndrome, which usually goes along with other symptoms like acne and hair growth on the face. It’s something that should be checked out if you’ve missed your period more than one month.”

21. Is there any scientific proof that you can experience less PMS, pain, blood, and shorter periods by switching to a menstrual cup and/or cloth pads? —Erika Drewke, Facebook

22. Will being overweight affect the effectiveness of my implant birth control? —katt4f8ab9aa2

Planned Parenthood / Via youtube.com

Minkin: "Unfortunately, I don’t know — there’s some controversy around this topic that once you get up to 180 pounds some literature suggests it might be less effective. But there’s also literature that says it’s not a problem. Check with your provider; you can also look into an IUD."

Dweck: "It's possible. While there’s a lot of wiggle room in terms of what will be effective, these products may be less effective on those who are significantly above their BMI."

23. I currently can't get birth control and without it I don't have a period due to my polycystic ovary syndrome. I haven't had a period since December and I was wondering if I'm still ovulating. I know my uterine wall isn't shedding, but I'm not sure if anything else isn't working. —cheramiefaithw

NBC

Minkin: "With PCOS in general, you are not ovulating well, but you’re always having your uterus stimulated — I usually suggest taking progestin to clients not on birth control pills. And you can get a prescription for that from your provider."

Dweck: “The very nature of PCOS is that you don't get your period frequently or at all. You should see your gynecologist because they’ll be able to recommend treatments.”

24. I have uneven legs (one shorter than the other), and therefore, uneven hips. Is it safer to give birth vaginally or via a C-section? —Alexa92

Sbytovamn / Getty Images

Minkin: "It's almost always safer to give birth vaginally for all conditions. Uneven legs should not be a problem."

Dweck: “If it’s just a strict orthopedic issue, you’re probably fine to go forward with regular delivery. But, if it’s something like you have a spine malformation or neurological problem, then I can’t comment without knowing the exact nature of your problem.”

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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