WARNING: This site features very frank discussion and occasionally explicit images of medical conditions.
Parental guidance is recommended.

Embarrassing Bodies, 11:20pm Thursday 3rd September 2015 on More 4. Catch up for free on 4oD »

Video

Anthony Quinlan: Mott

Boy 1: Naughty, i’ve heard it called –

Boy 2: Really?

Boy 1: The lady’s naughty.

Anthony Quinlan: Poonanie

Hollie Jay-Bowes: I think my friend’s called hers Rachel.

Kent Riley: Pink velvet sausage wallet

********

Dr Dawn: If you don’t use the word vagina, you almost certainly don’t talk about your vulva.

The vulva is all the bits you can see on the outside of a woman’s genitalia: the area covered by pubic hair, the outer and inner lips surrounding the vaginal opening called the labia majora and minora, the clitoris and the opening of the urethra which is where we wee through;

And just as no two penises are the same, no two vulvas are the same.

Some are wrinkly and some are smooth. Some pink, some brown. Some girls have large labia, others small.

And the only way you’ll come to know what’s normal for you is if you regularly look and feel.

*******

Girl 1: I think what worries a girl most about it is like you don’t normally talk about stuff like that and it’s embarrassing to ask someone like their parents or their friends

Girl 2: I think if people did talk more about it they would not worry half as much because they would realise everyone’s different and everything’s never the same.

*******

On this website there’s a video showing you how to check your vulva.

Hundreds of thousands of people have watched it and women, from their teens up to their fifties and older, have left comments and questions.

With vaginas a big concern is size. Girls who experience pain during sex; or have difficulty inserting a tampon, commonly worry that their vagina is too small.

But it won’t be. When we get nervous we tense up. And this will make the vagina tighten.

The more relaxed you are the more comfortable inserting a tampon or having sex will be.

The vagina is the passage that connects the woman’s internal reproductive organs to the outside world.

When a man and a woman have sex – it’s where the penis enters. And when a woman has a baby the vagina expands so the baby can be born.

Another common worry is that discharge means your vagina’s dirty. It’s actually the opposite.

Discharge is your vagina’s way of keeping itself clean, free from infection and lubricated.

If your vagina is dry, you could try using lubricant or vaginal pessary available from chemists to make the vagina more comfortable during sex or masturbation.

And yes I did say the ‘M’ word.

Masturbation is not just for boys !

To keep your vagina and vulva healthy…

Wear cotton underwear, it will keep you cool and dry ñ bacteria thrives in damp, warm environments!

Go knicker-free at night.

Avoid wearing tight fitting clothes, swimsuits or gym kit for prolonged periods

Don’t use perfumed soaps, gels, talcs or bubble baths as these can irritate the vagina.

If you get an infection take the medication as directed and complete the treatment even if you think the infection’s gone.

Avoid sex until an infection has cleared.

After going to the loo always wipe from front to back.

And ALWAYS practise safe sex.

If you do notice any changes, unusual lumps, bumps, spots or sores.

Or if your discharge differs in consistency, colour or smell from your norm – make an appointment to see your doctor.

It could be something as simple as thrush or bacterial vaginosis but it needs checking out especially if you have had unprotected sex.

On this site you’ll find a self-checker for STI’s with information about symptoms for all kinds of infections.

Don’t be embarrassed – your doctor will have seen thousands of Vulvas and vaginas. It really is all in a day’s work for us

Read the video transcript

Am I Normal: Vagina

Dr Dawn Harper discusses what is normal when it comes to vaginas, looking at everything from discharge and childbirth, to the normal variations in vulval appearance. The video also includes discussions with teenagers from around the country and the cast of Hollyoaks.

If you’d prefer to watch this video on your mobile, then download our specially produced version for your mobile phone from the Channel 4 Mobile site.

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Explore Am I Normal? >

Am I Normal?: Sex And Relationships >
Am I Normal?: Mental Health >
Am I Normal?: Drugs And Alcohol >

If you think your child may be going through early puberty, check our guide especially for parents on Embarrassing Bodies: Kids website.

With thanks to:
Hollyoaks
University of Birmingham Hockey Club
Llanelli Youth Theatre
Tetbury Hospital

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Comments and Questions

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Hi I'm 16 years old, nearly turning 17. And I've been embarrassed about the way my Vagina looks for years now, it seems to be ever since I started puberty. It doesn't look nice in underwear or bikini bottoms and you can see it quite clearly as my outer lips are what can only be described as large and fat, my inner lips also hang quite low. I had a boyfriend and he didn't seem too bothered about it but I feel disgusted in myself and want to be able to go on holiday and look in the mirror without hating what I see, I understand that all Vaginas look different but I really am not comfortable with mine. My question is will it always look this way or will I have to undergo surgery, which I have thought about doing and how old do you have to be to get it done?





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Hi, I'm 14 years old and a virgin. My labia in my vagina hngs really low and it is affecting my confidence. Is there anything that can perk it up other than surgery?





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im 14 and a virgin and when i clean my vagina area i jump because its sensative when i touch it. is that normal?





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As long as it isn't sensitive because it itches or burns, yes, that's quite normal. It's the most sensitive part of the human body, and while sensitivity varies between individuals, what you describe is common.

I have 2 things today, I'm 16, and currently by the of my boobs hang downwards, I've tried uplifting bras.. Etc my nipple points downwards they don't seem to grow underneath my boobs, they are fine on top but not underneath, also.. I have a weak bladder, I could be walking down the high street and i d get this smelly fishy smell, I go to the toilet and check and my knickers are wet, I don't know if its just discharge but how can I get rid of the smell? Its seriously EMBARRASSING! I have to change my clothes almost three times a day due to the fishy smell. I hope someone can answer my questions, thank you .





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For the fish smell problem, I'm pretty sure that's discharge. Urine doesn't have that smell. That smell and the quantity of discharge *could* indicate that there's an infection (although sometimes it's normal - everyone's body chemistry is different), so it would be a good idea to talk to the doctor about what's going on. Good luck!

I'm 15 and I'm pretty sure my vagina is not at all normal. My clitoral hood has like lumps under the skin and is not at all smooth and is bumpy. What are they?! It's not just like one under my skin the whole of my hood and going down to my labia has them. I have not had sex and am so worried in not normal. Please help.





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i am 15 year old and over the past year my vigina has became really saggy on the inner lips i just wanna know if it will change over time will it go back to the way it was??





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What you've described is very normal. The inner labia often grow significantly during puberty. They will change a little bit more over time, but they won't go back to the way they were. That's nothing to be concerned about though, it's just part of the natural transition from child to adult genitals; a sign of sexual maturity. Most women have prominent labia minora, just like you. It's totally normal!

hi im 14 years old and I am in a very bad state right now. basically my genital skin looks goose bumpy all the time and the skin is very loose.the middle part of my vagina(in between the lips)looks very long and it kinda hangs off.my vagina has also lost its elasticity and one of the lips looks squished than the other.my skin has lso darkened and I had been plucking my genita area so this is why all this might have happened. can you tell me I the bumpiness willgo away and my vagina skin will be more elastic.will my skin improve as I grow older or will I stay like this forever? lease could you help me!! :'(





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The labia majora (outer lips) appear to be goose bumpy? That's probably the result of plucking the hairs out. Some people just have bumpy hair follicles - it's nothing to worry about. The loose skin in the middle is likely your labia minora (inner lips) and/or clitoral hood. It's extremely common for them to be visible, or hang down past the labia majora - most women are like that. Puberty causes the vulva to change significantly (and somewhat unpredictably, since everyone's body is unique), and and many of the changes you've noted are common. The dark skin, and changes in size and appearance of the labia are likely related to puberty. These changes are a normal part of becoming an adult, and will likely last a long time. The vulva continues to change as you get older, so who knows what will happen, but the changes will be far less significant that those that you've already experienced. The elasticity change is a little surprising though - the labia often become more elastic during and after puberty. If you mean they've become more wrinkled, that often does happen too. I don't think there's any cause for concern, but you can always talk to a doctor if you're worried about anything.

Hi, I had these were bumps on the outer ebd of my labia for the longest (like yrs). When I got a pap smear I was good but im curious to what these things are. Its like my labia has been cut into several lil pieces. Its like penile things on a guys penis but its not. Its hard to explain. I guess some people mistaken them as an early stage of genital warts... what could these things be called? Its not fordyce spots either





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Hi I am 14 and recently we had a sex education lesson where they showed diagrams of vaginas and they all showed that the urethra is inside the flaps just above the vaginal opening, but i realised that mine wasnt there and that it is just above the clitoris,outside of the flaps. This has made me really worried and i just want to know if this is normal and if there is something wrong with me?





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hi, okay so, my vagina flaps hang like down abit and the tops are like brown. I understand this is completely normally but it's also something that I can't get use to , I really dislike it. I was wondering if like there's anything I can do to change them beside like surgery and I was wondering if they would change them selfs, I'm 14?





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