Search Knowledge Base by Keyword
The vulva is the part of the genitals on the outside of the female body. No two vulvas look the exact same but have the same basic structures.
The Main Parts of the Vulva Include:
- Mons Pubis: Located above the vulva and is often covered with pubic hair after puberty.
- Clitoris: Located at the top of the vulva, where the inner lips meet. It is a spongy tissue that becomes swollen when aroused (turned on). Each person’s clitoris is a different size ranging from a small pea to as big as a thumb. The clitoris extends inside the body, back and down the sides of the vagina.
- Labia Majora: The folds of skin (outer lips) usually covered with pubic hair
- Labia Manora: The folds of skin (inner lips) that are hairless. They begin at the clitoris and end under the opening of the vagina.
- Opening of the Vagina: Where menstrual blood leaves the body and babies are born.
- Vestibule: Surrounds the entrance of the vagina.
- Urethra: Tiny hole where the urine exits the body, located under the clitoris.
The vagina is inside the body, connecting the vulva to the cervix and uterus.
The vagina is described as a self-cleaning oven, meaning plain water is sufficient to keep it clean.
Here Are Some Helpful Suggestions for Vulvar Care:
- Water is sufficient to keep the vulva clean.
- Avoid using soaps and other feminine products such as deodorant sprays, douches, powders, personal wipes, bath oils and bubble baths in the genital area which can irritate the urethra and vulva.
- Pat the vulva to dry, do not rub.
- Wear 100% cotton underwear.
- Avoid wearing thongs, which can track bacteria from the anus forward to the vulva and urethra.
- Consider not wearing underwear at night.
- Avoid the use of hair dryers on the vulvar area.
- Wipe from front to back after urinating and after a bowel movement (this prevents bacteria from the anal region from spreading to the vulvar area).
- Make only one pass when wiping from front to back, using a fresh piece of toilet tissue and dropping the toilet tissue into the toilet bowl after each wipe.
- Choose 100% cotton menstrual pads and tampons.
- If using pads for incontinence, choose pads designed for this purpose (collecting urine) instead of menstrual pads.
- Change pads frequently to minimize prolonged contact with moisture.
- Remove wet bathing suits after long periods of time.
- Change out of sweaty exercise clothing to reduce prolonged contact with moisture.
- Choose clothing that is not synthetic to minimize perspiration and irritation.
- Avoid tight jeans, leggings, and pantyhose which do not allow for adequate air circulation.
Other Important Tips for Vulvar Care:
- Ensure hydration by drinking plenty of fluid, mostly water.
- Adequate fluid intake should cause an individual to void (urinate) 5-8 times per day.
- A sign of adequate hydration is the colour of urine. For most people, it should be pale lemonade coloured.
- Being well hydrated will help dilute urine to minimize irritation and constipation.
- When voiding (urinating) or having a bowel movement, avoid rushing or straining.
- Sit comfortably, with your underwear lowered to your ankles to encourage your hips and legs to relax.
- Lean forward to urinate and visualize the pelvic floor relaxing and lowering.
- Take your time, relaxing and breathing deeply as you urinate.