Your vagina is just another part of you, just like your heart or brain or legs. So it makes sense to get to know it.
These suggestions can help you be smart and healthy about your vagina.
1. Know what your girl parts look like.
You can bet guys know their own bodies! Get to know yours. Use a hand mirror to explore your vulva (folds of skin outside the vagina) and vagina. You’ll see what’s where, and be able to tell if something is wrong.
One common blooper is to think that pee comes out of the vagina. Urine comes out of a completely different opening that lies between the clitoris and the vagina.
Most of the vagina itself lies inside your body, so an illustration is a good way to get to know it.
For the record, your vagina is about three to five inches long. It connects to your uterus (womb), but the opening to the uterus (called the cervical os) is very small — unless you’re about to deliver a baby. So a tampon can’t get lost or move beyond your vagina.
2. You don’t need to douche or use special cleaners.
Your vagina is self-cleaning. If anything, you just need a mild soap or shampoo on your pubic hair and the outer vulva. Avoid rubbing with a washcloth. Don’t douche or use other special cleaning products for your vagina. These can ruin the normal balance of bacteria and cause problems.
3. Vaginal discharge is normal when it’s clear.
The vagina is a mucus membrane. That means fluids are supposed to be there. And you may see a few spots on your underwear. Some women have more discharge than others. Being on the birth control pill can affect discharge.
4. Changes in discharge can mean an infection.
Yeast infections are fairly common. They tend to cause a white discharge that looks like cottage-cheese. They bring a lot of itching and redness but no odor. They’re usually treated with creams or other meds that go directly into the vagina. Doctors sometimes prescribe pills.
Another common infection, called bacterial vaginosis, causes a greenish or yellowish discharge. It smells fishy, especially after sex. If you have itching, burning, or unusual discharge for more than one week, you should see a doctor.
5. Thongs don’t cause yeast infections.
A skinny strip of fabric sits very close to your vagina when you wear thong underwear, but it’s probably not to blame for a yeast infection. Two things do make you more likely to have a yeast infection: tight clothing and panties made of nylon. If you already have an infection, wearing a thong might add to your misery, though. It can ride up and rub agai