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 VULVA WELLNESS

How much are we taught about nurturing and taking care of our vulvas? Were you instilled with a sense of beauty and pride in your genitals? Unless you were lucky, no one established much knowledge or gratification in you about your vulva or said much other than to keep it hidden and stop it from bleeding publicly. Viva La Vulva! is about blowing on the sparks of self-love and appreciation until they flame into a brilliant tender glow.

~ Shain Stodt, Sex Educator 

 

THE CLITORIS IS QUEEN

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A Cool Fact - The Clitoris Keeps Growing
A big difference between the clitoris and penis is, a penis stops growing. A clit doesn't. For example, for a 32-year-old woman, a clitoris is four times the size it was when that same woman reached puberty. But it doesn't stop there. After menopause, it's seven times as large as when the woman was born.
(From http://www.ranker.com/list/sensitive-clitoris-facts/lea-rose-emery)
 

What is the clitoris? Where is the clitoris? How important is it, and how does it work? Is it a tiny nub or a vast, mysterious underground warren? Can it get enough stimulation for orgasm from intercourse? Is it inside the vulva, outside the vulva, both, or neither?

Here's the story.

Regally dominating the bodies pleasure capacity, the clitoris is the organ responsible for female genital orgasm, and the vast majority of women experience orgasm only when receiving direct clitoral stimulation. Made of sensitive erectile tissue, it is the only organ known to exist sheerly for sexual pleasure. Dense in nerve receptors, no other organ in either the female or male body offers such exquisite sensitivity to erotic pleasure.

The structure of the internal clitoris.

It is a common mistake to believe that the visible part of the external clitoral shaft and the head - or glans - constitute the entire clitoris. Actually the clitoris is a much larger organ; the externally visible clitoris continues into an internal structure that's around the same size as male genitalia. Elegantly fashioned, it's made up of interlinked components: glans (head), hood, shaft, crura (crus), and bulbs.


Anatomy of the Clitoris  (From Amazing Anatomy)
Clitoral Glans (Head)
The nerve-rich clitoral glans at the tip of the clitoral shaft has twice the nerve endings of any other part of the human body, including the penis. A round or bulbous head about the size of a wild pearl, it nestles under the clitoral hood. The clitoral glans is exquisitely sensitive to stimulation.  

 clit tip

TIP: Many women have an area on their clitoral head (glans or tip) that is particularly sensitive to stimulation. Try thinking of it in four quarters and explore each section for a special sweet spot! 

Clitoral Hood
The clitoral hood is a protective foreskin that partially covers the clitoral glans, connecting with the fourchette and labia minor. The hood may be manually retracted so that the clitoral head can be directly stimulated during sexual activity if desired. Movement of the attached labium and fourchette can cause the clitoral hood to rub against the clitoral glans pleasurably. 

 

Clitoral Shaft
The clitoral shaft is a firm cylinder-like tube full of spongy tissue that engorges with blood and becomes erect when erotically stimulated. You can feel it very distinctly with your hand if you touch your clitoral head and then follow the connected shaft back towards the mons; this part of the shaft can be seen externally. The rest of the shaft continues as internal structure of the sexual system.

Crura (Crus)
The Crura, or Crus, is made of erectile tissue which extends like two slender legs or tendrils from the clitoral shaft down through the lips of the labia minora. They are highly sensitive to stimulation felt through the labia and connected areas.

Clitoral Bulbs (Bulbs of the Vestibule)
The clitoral or vestibular bulbs lie beneath the labia minora and surround the vaginal opening. Engorging and expanding during sexual arousal, they provide pleasure during sexual stimulation to the vaginal opening and lower vaginal canal.

Smegma
Smegma is a natural accumulation of vaginal secretions that form into a white paste. It often builds up under the clitoral hood and in the labial folds.  

Smegma is a medium for excessive bacterial growth, and can become infected. It can also become a binding paste that prevents freedom of movement of the external clitoral structure. To prevent this it should be cleaned off on a regular basis. Open the folds of the labia and gently retract the clitoral hood to wash with mild, unscented soap and water. Don’t use harsh or perfumed soap.

Labia Majora (Outer Labia)
The labia majora are the fleshy “outer lips” of the vulva. Unlike the inner lips, they are covered by regular epidermal skin rather than mucosal tissue. The labia majoras’ beautiful colors deepen when engorgingwith blood during sexual stimulation.

red clitLabia Minora (Inner Labia)
(←Where are your labia minora? Find the labia minora in this picture.)
The labia minora, or the vulvas “inner lips”, are located to the inside of the labia majora in a pattern similar to the inner petals of a flower. The sensitive crura run through them. They are made of permeable mucous membrane containing sebaceous glands, and are chock full of nerve endings that communicate a rare degree of sensation. They are directly attached to the clitoral hood at the fourchette, and movement of the lips can cause varying degrees of pleasurable stimulation to the clitoris.  

The lips of the labia minor play a beneficial role in helping to keep bacteria out of the vestibule.

Labia Minora vary a great deal in size, shape and color. They can be pink, violet, red, brown, salmon, lilac, crimson, purple, ebony, peach, or all of the above at once in a gorgeous symphony of color. Getting to know and appreciate the special beauty of your genitals is one of the great pleasures of anatomical self-knowledge! 

It's not unusual for one side of the labium to be shaped differently than the other, or to be longer. This lovely asymmetry is part of the character makes each woman’s’ genitals unique, beautiful and distinctive.  

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INNER TERRAIN

Insidvag canale the Vaginal Canal
The internal structure of the vaginal canal is comprised of strong curving muscle covered by an outer sheath of mucosal tissue. Within it are different areas with varying degrees of sensitivity to erotic contact:

 

The lower third near the vaginal entrance, surrounded by the Clitoral Vestibule Bulbs, contain a concentration of nerve endings.

 

The fornix at the top of the vaginal canal can tent upward to expand for deeper penetration. Some women enjoy having this area filled.

 

The cervix, or entrance to the womb, is→ felt as a sensitive little bump on the upper back wall. Stimulation can be pleasurable if gentle and painful if too hard. 

 

The G-spot is a spongy, rough-feeling patch which is attached to clitoral nerves and is a source of intense pleasure and enhanced orgasm for some women (see Quest for the G-Spot, below). 


 

1: fallopian tube, 2: bladder, 3: pubic bone,  4: g-spot, 5: clitoris, 6: urethra, 7: vagina,
8: ovary, 9: sigmoid colon, 10: uterus, 11: fornix, 12: cervix, (also seen on right→)
13: rectum, 14: anus

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QUEST FOR THE G-SPOT  (From Partnering)

http://informedaboutsex.com/g_spot_diagram.jpg  Image: Xdon elias

What is it? Where is it? Does it trigger orgasms and cause "female ejaculation"? Is it even real?

Yeah, it sure is!

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G-spot squirting -not really an  orgasm itself but a lovely enhancement of a clitoral orgasm - results from direct stimulation of the G-spot, a spongy area about 2-3 inches inside the vaginal canal on the forward side of the canal (also called the perineal urethra) where it is embedded in the anterior vaginal wall. Nerves extending the erectile tissue of the clitoris surround it. The distal vagina, clitoris and urethra form an integrated entity covered superficially by the vulvar skin and its epithelial features. These parts have a shared vasculature and nerve supply and during sexual stimulation respond as a unit, triggering the "G-spot orgasm" or squirting . The parauthreal glands release a fluid sometimes termed "female ejaculation" (which of course it's really not: there is no sperm content) in quantity's that can be as little as a thimble full or as much as a quart.

G-Squirting

http://informedaboutsex.com/img1002.jpgAchieving a G-spot squirt usually requires a good bit of time and a very relaxed vulva. Because of this, a good G-spot stimulating sex toy may prove helpful if your fingers get tired! Luckily, certain dildo's and vibrators are specifically crafted to pleasure the G-spot.

Finding the G-Spot Manually
The easiest position to find the G-spot is lying on your back with your legs open and bent. Gently insert one or two lubricated fingers inside the vaginal canal and press against the front wall. Feel for a spongy, slightly rough area.  

Techniques for Pleasuring the G-Spot
Once you’ve located the G-spot, try applying different caresses: a “come hither” motion with one or two fingers, the palm turned up; or direct thrusting with one or two fingers, are popular techniques to begin exploring with.
What works for you?

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Everybody is Different
Different women report varying degrees of response to G-spot stimulation; some women find it extremely pleasurable, while other women have little or no reaction. Yet others find it distinctly uncomfortable. All of these responses are completely normal. Sexual growth means learning about your own preferences and desires.

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Am I Peeing when I’m G-ing?
When you’re getting close to squirting, you may feel a sensation that makes you think you’re about to urinate. You’re not! What’s happening is that your paraurethral gland is filling with fluid, swelling the sponge of your G-spot and putting a little pressure on your bladder.  

This fluid will release through your urethra, anywhere from a teaspoon to a quart of it (be prepared for a real drenching!) It is not the same composition as waste urine - it's mostly water with some Female Gonadotrophic Hormone and a light dilute of sterile urea and ureic acid mixed in – but it’s certainly deliciously wet. An extra sheet will help.

Partnering Positions
Some good positions for locating the G-spot with a penis or dildo are:
 
File:Wiki-Wiener-auster.png~Woman lying on her back with hips and her legs lifted high or around her partner’s shoulders and his/her hips lifted and angled up to the G-spot. A pillow under the pelvis can help elevate the woman’s nicely hips, too.  

~Woman forward on her knees and hands or elbows, tilting her pelvis forward while her partner tilts their pelvis back and up. 

~Woman facing backwards and lying forward toward her partner’s feet, which pulls her partner’s penis/dildo forward and down, tightly rubbing the vagina. Aim into the G-spot. 

~Partner lies on their back with their legs spread while the woman lowers herself onto the penis/dildo with her legs stretched out and open in front of her. Then she slowly lowers herself back until she’s lying down, too. This gives shallow penetration and is excellent for focusing on G-spot arousal.

 ~Woman on top straddling her partner, leaning back on her arms and tilting her pelvis up. 

~Woman lying on her side bent forward from the waist with her partner behind her. 

Remember: Relax and be patient. It can take a good bit of time to reach a G-spot orgasm. The process cannot be rushed. And really - why would you want to rush such a lovely joy?

 

ORGASM (From Masturbation)

 

 One of the best things you can do to maintain vulva wellness is have regular orgasms.

As orgasm occurs, the genitals and whole body reach a pleasure climax, discharging tension in a series of involuntary contractions while releasing healthy endomorphins. And yes - we all have the capacity for orgasm. Don’t let anybody tell you differently! This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll experience a life-changing, volcanic explosion when you orgasm; orgasms can vary a great deal in rhythm and sensation. The experience of orgasm can also vary from time to time, feeling like a string of soft, subtle undulations; a wash of pleasurable tension releasing; or a strong, visceral series of core contractions radiating out through all the muscles of your body. You may be sleepy or alert afterward, feel drained and sated, or want more.

This doesn't always happen. 

 

TIP: Practice extending your pleasure range by building sexual tension and easing off before you reach orgasm, then building again. Learn to sense when you need to ease off and when you're relaxed enough to resume building pleasure. The more you prolong pleasure and release, the more intense your orgasm may be. This is called "edging".

 

Multiple Orgasms

‘Multiple orgasms’ refers to having a sequence of two or more orgasms with little or no sexual ‘rest period’. They may happen seconds or minutes apart, feel contiguous or separate, and be increasingly or decreasingly intense.  For some women multiple orgasms are absolutely necessary for sexual satisfaction. For others, one is all they want. Is either way better? The answer is: whatever works for you. 

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How do you have multiple orgasms?
Sometimes we get accustomed to stopping after one orgasm without realizing that we can go further. If you have a definitive orgasm and feel the urge for still more orgasmic release, you can either continue by building sexual pleasure without backing off, or by allowing a minor dip in the intensity of erotically stimulating activity and then resuming the escalation of sexual tension until you have another orgasm.

 

Are multiple orgasms easier for women?
The simple answer is yes, women and men do vary at this point in their Sexual Response Cycle. Most men tend to need a Refractory Period after orgasm before they can physiologically build to a sexual aroused state again, whereas many women can continue having orgasms indefinitely if they choose. However, all this fluctuates from individual to individual depending on health, age, and sexual drive. Some men, especially in their youth, can have multiple orgasms while some women don’t ever have, or desire, more than one. 

 

Are there other differences between female and male orgasmic functioning?

Yes, two important ones.

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1. Women require clitoral stimulation until their orgasm is complete, whereas men tend to have a “point of no return” after which they will ejaculate –and hopefully orgasm – without further stimulation. Many women in my workshops note that this can create a distinct incompatibility between their male partners and themselves, unless conscious measures are taken by the parties involved to compensate for these different needs. This is an example of why communication and sexual awareness is so important in a relationship!

2. The female erection usually requires twenty to forty minutes or more of direct stimulation to achieve orgasm while the male erection requires two to five minutes. Heterosexual partners must to respond to these separate needs and incorporate them equally into their love play.

 

Myth Busting: Simultaneous orgasm is best

Truth: both partners achieving orgasm at the same time is not the holy grail of sex. On the contrary; it’s a romanticized ideal that puts unrealistic pressure on couples, inflicting needless tension and disappointment when it’s not achieved.

 

The reality is that for the most part, it’s just not physiologically probable that two different people will reach orgasm at the same time on a frequent basis. Taking turns concentrating on each other’s pleasure and comfortably allowing each party to reach orgasm in their own timing is much more likely to yield good, satisfying, orgasmic sex.

 

WELLNESS

Cranberries

Here are some excellent tips and practical tools for taking tender loving care of your vulva. Use them! Become the informed, proactive keeper of your own sexual health and wellbeing.

 

TIPS For Staying Vulva Healthy:
Pee right after sex to flush bacteria out of the urinary tract.
Drink cranberry juice (unsweetened) to flush and cleanse your system.
Don't douche unless you have a specific medical reason: douching removes healthy bacteria.
Eat fresh, plant-based foods that strengthen your metabolism.
Always practice safer sex
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Water

Soak in a warm tub of clean water and stretch your legs luxuriously wide apart. Feels great, doesn't it? And it's good for you. Just let the water wash over you; don't pull your vagina open so that you start to wash away the natural cleansing fluids inside. (Note: never force water into the vagina, and be mindful that the water is warm, not hot).

 

Air

Let your naked crotch soak it up! Like water, air is cleansing and healing. Opens your pores, fights off infection, and it's free.

 

Regular Pelvic Self-Examinations  (From Self-Examinations)

   Speculum
Examine your vulva on a monthly basis. Make a comfortable, warm environment for this where you will be undisturbed by phone calls or marauding family members. You'll need a good mirror that is large enough to show your whole vulva but is still small enough so that you can prop it up between your legs; good lighting; and a clean plastic speculum that's been heated in warm -not hot - sterile water.

Check your whole vulva thoroughly, opening the labial folds, and retracting the clitoral hood. Your doctor or an informed friend can show you how to use a speculum so that you can examine the inside of your vaginal canal and your cervix.

 

Note any unusual changes in color, texture, any sores, rashes, or bumps, or any unusual discharge, mucus or smell. Note any itching or discomfort.  

 

If you see anything that causes you concern, make an appointment with your gynecologist right away. Take a picture  of anything notable if possible, because symptoms can come and go and don’t always appear when we want to show them to our doctor! 

 

Exercising the Pubococcygeal Muscles (From PC Exercises)

You can do them on a bus, you can do it at work, while you're brushing your teeth, or reading your kids a bedtime story. They make you healthier, sex better, and may help you avoid some of the potential pitfalls of aging. Do you love them yet?

 

The PC muscles surround and integrally support the vagina and help hold the uterus in place.  They are crucial to sexual pleasure as well as the health of the sexual and reproductive system in multiple ways.

When the vaginal muscles hold or grasp a penis or pleasure object, these muscles play a large part in the action. Keeping them healthy and toned enhances sexual sensation. A lot.

The PC muscles also contribute to safeguarding the internal placement of the uterus and the reproductive organs. If these muscles grow weak or lax, the uterus can eventually slip out of place and into the vaginal canal, causing complications that may require corrective surgery, including hysterectomy. Keeping these muscles strong helps avert this serious health risk. 

 

The easiest way to locate the PC muscles is by squeezing them to stop your urine stream. Practice a pattern of stopping your urine flow and then releasing it repeatedly, until you have a clear feel for the muscles you’re using. You can also find the PC muscles by gently inserting a lubricated finger into your vaginal canal, and using the same muscles that you would use to stop your urine flow to gasp your finger.  Once you’ve located your PC muscles, practice tightening and releasing these muscles on a regular basis at varied paces, working and strengthening them to a vibrant tone.  Do fifty repetitions at a moderate pace, then fifty medium contractions, and then fifty fast contractions. Make these repetitions part of your daily routine and you will feel the difference!

 

Vaginal “barbells” or weights designed to fit the natural curve of the vagina and build strength and tone in the PC muscles are also available from your gynecologist, and at good online sexuality stores.

 

 

MENSTRUATION (From Menstruation and Menopause)

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Is Sex during Menstruation okay? Does it stop cramping, or start it?

Sex – either solo or with a partner - during normal menstruation is very okay, and some women do find it relieves their menstrual cramps. This is because an orgasm can cause your uterus to contract, enabling it to use up excess prostaglandins in the process. (Prostaglandins are hormones produced by your uterine lining. They help to stimulate the contractions that move menstrual blood out of the uterus, causing those cramps that occur during your period).

Take Note: Menstruation does not prevent pregnancy. Use birth control.

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MENOPAUSE

With decreased estrogen hormone production, your sex drive may diminish.* The vaginal walls can lose elasticity, shrink and become dryer, and the vagina’s natural lubricating secretions become less abundant during sexual arousal. 

Don’t worry; these symptoms can usually be ameliorated. You may wish to explore hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which can plump up the vagina. And a high quality vaginal lubricant is as good, or better, than the real thing to replace diminishing vaginal secretions. 

It’s also important to keep the vaginal canal healthy, open and strong. Exercising the pelvic muscles and the active use of the genital muscles during some form of vaginal penetration is essential on a regular basis. Lack of use can cause these important muscles to atrophy, and adhesions may form, obstructing or closing the vaginal canal.  

If you have not had penile-vaginal sex for a while and are going to begin, have a pelvic exam first to check for vaginal or clitoral adhesions, check your muscle tone and health, and to gauge the levels of your vaginal elasticity and your lubrication capacity.  

If your vagina has shrunk and the walls have tightened, it’s a good idea to begin a gentle course of inserting a lubricated finger or small dildo into the vaginal canal, focusing on gradually relaxing the vaginal walls. As they relax, you can slowly, gently increase the size of the penetrating object. In the case of a very tight vagina, special vibrating rods of graduating sizes can be utilized to help the muscles relax. If your OBGYN practitioner is not familiar with this technique, contact a sex therapist.   

(*Conversely, as your estrogen diminishes, your testosterone may become more dominant - a powerful libido hormone!)

  

LOVING YOUR GENITALS (From Body Image)
We often have the most distorted ideas about how our genitals should look! We think our penises should be huge and straight, and our labia tiny and smooth; a microcosm of the gender role binary! It's unrealistic, pointless, and incredibly harmful to our self-esteem. We need to have a romance with our real, human genitals. They are beautiful, pleasure-filled, life-affirming, and delicious; have a good look at yourself and marvel at their gorgeous colors, textures and forms!  

VIVA LA VULVA!

 
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