Most of the time, we take our vaginas very seriously — but you have to admit they can also be a source of great entertainment and amusement.
So much of a woman’s time spent thinking about her vagina is, how should I put this, a royal pain. We make appointments with our gyno, which we dread having to keep, and agree to be prodded, swabbed and interrogated about the ins and outs of our vaginas. When was our last period? How many sexual partners has our vagina had the pleasure of getting to know on an intimate level? How long after childbirth have we been experiencing incontinence?
Sometimes you just have to laugh about your vagina. What we hope is your favorite organ can also be pretty darn funny and unusual. Here are eight facts about it that prove it should win an award for most fascinating and inspiring body part of all time.
1. Disney was the first to use the word “vagina” in a film
Yep, it’s true. The same company that brought you Mickey Mouse, glass slippers and “happily ever after” also attempted to teach women about their bodies and the glory of menstruation (albeit, in a very 1946 way) with a 10-minute animated film called The Story of Menstruation. The film is dreadfully outdated, but it gets major props for using the word “vagina,” which I’m guessing shocked America to its core at the time.
More: An approved list of things that can go in the vagina
2. Vaginas have something in common with sharks
Both vaginas and sharks contain an organic lubricant called squalene, and it’s found in shark livers, author Derek Vasconi reminds us. As you probably already know, squalene is also what the vagina uses to, ya know, keep moist.
3. Vaginas have the same pH balance requirement as a peach
Your vagina is a demanding organ that requires a strict pH balance — but it also has a lot in common with a (fellow) juicy peach. Dare do anything that sends that number plummeting below or soaring above that number and it will make you pay. “A number of everyday triggers, including your period, pregnancy, sex or some medications can upset the delicate vaginal ecosystem and elevate pH, which should always be maintained at 4.3-4.5,” says Dr. Machelle Seibel, M.D., OB-GYN and professor, University of Massachusetts Medical School. Your vagina’s pH balance should always be maintained at 4.3-4.5, and when it’s unbalanced, odor-causing microorganisms can flourish (ick). Canned peaches just so happen to fall within that pH balance range — as do pineapples, beets, and best of all — chocolate eclairs.
4. The word “vagina” comes from the Latin root meaning “sheath for a sword”
How’s this for the perfect analogy? In classical times, “vagina” wasn’t used to describe a woman’s anatomy, but rather the “sheath” or “scabbard” for a sword. You betcha a man made up the word because, of course, the word “sword” was also commonly used to describe one’s penis back then.
5. The word “clitoris” comes from the Greek word for “key”
Classical lovers knew what was up. The word “clitoris” was borrowed from the Greek word “kleitoris,” which means door tender or “key” to a door. In other words, wise lovers can easily access a woman’s door to ecstatic levels of pleasure by simply turning the key.
6. The female vibrator was invented to cure hysteria
Back in the day, it was believed that women didn’t experience sexual desire or pleasure, but everyone was pretty damn convinced we all suffered from hysteria, a “catch-all diagnosis for anxiety, sexual frustration, and anything else that left a woman on edge,” says Kait Scalisi, a sex and relationship coach at Passion By Kait. The solution? Introduce women to “genital massaging” (AKA fingering) in the late 19th century, a treatment that (surprise, surprise) cured quite a few cases of “hysteria” and probably spurred other women to pretend they, too, suffered from it. “When the massage worked so well, the docs had a flood of patients,” Scalisi said. “They started to have issues with their hands and invented the vibrator to assist them. Of course hysteria isn’t real but sex and orgasm are still fantastic stress relievers.”
7. The inside of your cheek is made of the same tissue as the inside of your vagina
Ever wonder what is the big (like, colossal) deal about oral sex for men? It may have a little something to do with the fact that the tissue on the inner cheeks of our mouths resemble the tissue found on the inside of our vaginas. Doctors can and have even successfully transplanted tissue from the mouth in a surgical procedure to help young girls who are missing vaginas.
8. Vaginal steaming is something you can get as a spa treatment
In many countries, including Indonesia, as board certified nutritional therapist and health coach Darshi Shah found out firsthand, vagina steaming spas are considered just another way to keep your body healthy. Shag explains that women were in stalls in a room, sitting on a donut seat with a dry heat center basically “steaming” their V-spots. “I got a very long explanation about the benefits and was offered a complimentary trial,” Shah says. “It has its merits because dry heat cannot cause yeast infections as a douche would. It cleans out everything, and clears away odors. Renews you from the inside out.” After doing some research when she returned home, Shah found the treatment is being offered (and is pricey) in NYC spas — though you can save your money and recreate the experience in the privacy of your own bathroom.