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Is it called Vagina or Vulva?

How the American Education system has failed us.

picture of fruit

It’s the vulva, not the vagina.


When I first discovered that the correct term for the external female genitalia was the vulva I was in my twenties. TWENTIES! For over two decades, I had been using the wrong name for a part of my own body.


Here's the thing, it's okay not to know every anatomical detail of your body, as long as we acknowledge our gaps in knowledge. However, in my case I believed that the proper name for my vulva was vagina. But, I wasn’t alone in my misconception. Most of my friends were equally unaware. When I became a sexuality educator I made it my mission to make sure that everyone around me knew some proper terminology.


But this all got me thinking.... why didn't I know the proper name for a body part that I come into contact with on the daily?


Our Failing Education System

Our education system often falls short when it comes to sexuality education. With many considering it unimportant or even harmful. Consequently, we find ourselves in an uncomfortable situation—desiring knowledge about our bodies but feeling ashamed to seek it.


My own experience was in high school, where an older, very much disliked, male teacher briefly touched on condom use. If he ever differentiated between the vulva and vagina, it clearly didn’t stick. As far as I’m concerned, my school system failed me, and sadly, schools haven't improved much since then.


Our Patriarchal Society

It's possible that the prevalence of the term "vagina" is a reflection of the patriarchal society we inhabit. For centuries, women have often been perceived as having something to offer, with the vagina taking center stage. It's seen as the gateway for childbirth and pleasure through penetration. Why do we need to care about the rest when the pleasure for others comes from the vagina?


Understanding Your Body


We deserve comprehensive education about every part of our anatomy, empowering us to care for it and experience pleasure.


The vulva is far more intricate than the vagina alone. It is the residence of the ONLY organ across all genders designed exclusively for pleasure—the clitoris.


It also encompasses the urethra (the pee passage), the labia, and, of course, the vagina. By recognizing our knowledge gaps and prioritizing accurate education, we empower ourselves to fully appreciate the intricate beauty of our bodies, especially the rich complexity of the vulva

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