In case you missed it, 2016 has been the year of realizing things. We realized that Taylor Swift is actually the manipulative snake some of us thought she was, that Joe Biden is the definition of “daddy AF,” and that we are all suckers for a giddy mom wearing a Chewbacca mask. We also realized more important (not that those other things aren’t important – they are, just on a different level) things, like information about our vaginas that we probably should have already known. I’m not surprised that we didn’t though, as vaginas are still a pretty taboo subject and we don’t know nearly enough about women’s sexual health as we should. BUT ANYWAY.
This year produced some pretty amazing facts about our down there areas, from random everyday items that can cause infections to new STDs to info about orgasms. In case you didn’t keep up with the science world or in case you forgot this stuff in lieu of all of the other insane things that happened in 2016, I will remind you of them. Because if you have a vagina, you should definitely know this stuff. Here are some fascinating things we learned about vaginas in 2016 – thank us later.
Women Can Get 'Blue Balls' TooI'm sure you're familiar with the term "blue balls," which refers to the uncomfortable feeling men get in their balls when they get very turned on but don't ejaculate. A lot of women feel like guys use this as an excuse for sex (which is sometimes true), while men claim women don't understand the pain. Well, as it turns out, women feel some version of it also. According to Medical Daily, women can "experience vasoconstriction in the vulva, uterus, and ovaries during sexual arousal. And if they don’t orgasm, it can lead to similar feelings of heaviness and aching in their genitals." Basically, when you get very turned on or you're stimulated down there, the nerve endings engorge. If there's no release - AKA an orgasm - it can feel sore and uncomfortable. It's kind of the same feeling as when someone is fingering you, but it doesn't feel good - it's almost painful, but a weird kind of pain. Because of little research on the subject and the fact that a man's genitals might be more sensitive, we rarely hear about a female's "blue balls." Who's surprised? Source: iStock
Marijuana Might Be Good For Your VaginaIn 2014, we were introduced to weed lube. This year, we were introduced to weed tampons. Not, like, tampons that soak up blood, but tampons that act as a suppository to put marijuana into your down there area to relieve menstrual cramps. Doctors claim that the THC moderates the pain from cramps like any other medication would - except it's all natural. Is it true? There is very little research that's been done on them, and they also aren't FDA approved, so the jury is out. We'll have to wait to find out in 2017! Source: iStock
The Shape Of Your Vag Determines The Kind Of Orgasm You'll HaveWhen it comes to orgasms, they aren't all the same - in fact, there are several different kinds of orgasms you can have. Medical Xpress says that the shape of one's vagina determines the kind of orgasm they will have: "The researchers said they have figured out the distance between a woman's clitoris and her urinary opening that can predict whether she will be able to orgasm during sex, without any additional stimulation." In fact, researchers found it to be so accurate that they said that other factors (like penis size and how turned on they are) won't have an effect on the orgasm like the shape of the vagina will. So, it's true: some women are born with the ability to orgasm during penetration, others are not. Source: iStock
There's A New STD No One Talks AboutYou've probably heard about most of the STDs out there, like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV, but chances are, you haven't heard of the STD mycoplasma genitalium. According to Self, it's one that doctors want you to get familiarized with, fast. There are almost no symptoms, although the symptoms that are there are very common things, like spotting and discharge. Patients often think they just have recurring bacterial or yeast infections, and get treated for that instead of mycoplasma genitalium. It can hang around for years, and is more common than you'd think. When it's been diagnosed, it's relatively easy and quick to treat, but because it's so hard to figure out if you have it, it often isn't even diagnosed. Scary! Source: iStock
Toilet Paper Can Damage Your VagHere's some slightly disturbing news for you: toilet paper can harm your vagina. Using the wrong kind can leave little cuts, opening you up to the risk of infections or irritation. It can also make you itchy or puffy, it can get stuck there, leading to irritation, and scented toilet paper is never a good idea. Learn more here, and keep it all in mind the next time you're in the bathroom. Source: iStock
Getting Rid Of Pubic Hair Can Lead To InfectionsRemoving pubic hair has become so normal that it's something many of us talk about without a second thought. You can do whatever you want with yours, but many women prefer to get rid of it via shaving or waxing. But a study released in 2016 revealed" that people who groom their pubic hair have higher rates of STIs: "People who shaved, waxed, trimmed or plucked their pubic hair were found to be twice as likely to have cutaneous STIs such as herpes which can spread via the skin. They were also 90% more likely to have lice and 70% more likely to have secretory STIs like chlamydia which can spread via bodily fluids." The research did not determine why this happens, nor did they find any kind of cause and effect. It could be because pubic hair is there to protect our vaginas from outside bacteria that can give us infections, and when it's gone, we've lost that protection. Maybe it's because we're using tools that haven't been cleaned enough. Maybe we'll find out in 2017! Until then, stay safe. Source: iStock
An Alarming Number Of Women Can't Identify Their VaginaThe word "vagina" is thrown around a lot to reference the entire female genital area, and I can definitely see how this can get confusing. Your vagina is actually one specific part of your genitals, not the entire thing. Unfortunately, that clearly doesn't get explained often enough, because a study found that nearly half of British women can't identify a vagina. Half! The research found that nearly half of the women studied couldn't identify where the vagina was on a photo of genitals. 70 percent of them could, however, point out each different part of an image of male genitals. It says a lot about sex ed! Source: iStock
You Can Make Vagina BeerThere's a company called Order Of Yoni that sells beer that was brewed with bacteria swabbed from a woman's vagina. Why? I don't know why. According to Cosmopolitan, this is the description on the company's site: "Imagine woman of your dreams, your object of desire. Her charm, her sensuality, her passion… Try her taste, feel her smell, hear her voice… Imagine her massaging you passionately and whispering into your ear everything you want... Now free your fantasies and imagine that with a magic wand you can close it in one bottle of beer. Imagine the beer which every sip is a randez-vous with this hot woman of your dreams… she hugs you and kiss you gently, looking straight into your eyes… How much would you give for that beer?" Gross. Source: iStock
We Know What Sex Looks Like From Inside A VaginaSo, you may or may not have seen the video circulating around the Internet that shows us what sex looks like from inside a vagina. Why? I would hope that a tiny camera was attached to a penis and inside a vagina for research purposes, but I'm not 100 percent sure. The video is old, but it's actually supposed to be quite interesting and helpful. If you want to watch it, you can check it out here. Source: iStock
You Should Be Lifting Weights With Your VaginaWe should all know about kegels, an exercise for your vagina that is essentially clenching and unclenching it to make the muscles stronger. Well, this year, a sex expert recommended vaginal weightlifting: "Using a tool called the jade egg, Martin teaches women how to lift 1 to 3.5 ounce weights with their vaginal muscles, which she claims will strengthen the pelvic floor and help with several health issues including incontinence, post birth-rehabilitation and uterine prolapse." This sounds slightly terrifying and extremely intimidating, but it is supposed to be a really great workout for your vagina. And no, that's not done to make it smaller (that's not possible). It's done to strengthen the muscles and pelvic floor mainly so that you can have stronger orgasms. Source: iStock
'Dead Vagina Syndrome' Is Not RealVibrators make a great sex toy, but a lot of women are hesitant to use them because they buy into the myth of Dead Vagina Syndrome, AKA the idea that using a vibrator too often can desensitize your vagina, which is not what anyone wants. While a vibrator can desensitize your vagina a little bit right after use, a study that came out this year says there's no scientific evidence that Dead Vagina Syndrome can really happen. Good news to everyone who loves vibrators! Source: iStock
Discharge Is Normal, But Still StigmatizedOne of the dumbest things that happened in 2016 was The Panty Challenge. Maybe you remember it: when girls all over the Internet were posting photos of the inside of their underwear to "prove" to guys and the rest of the world that their underwear was clean. First of all, this makes it seem like discharge is disgusting and abnormal. Second of all, it's just straight up ridiculous - those girls could have EASILY took photos of brand new pairs of underwear or underwear that had just been washed. And so, we were reminded once again that discharge is so taboo and stigmatized - even though it's completely normal. Every single woman out there gets discharge. Sometimes it's heavier, sometimes it's lighter. Sometimes it's obvious, other times, not so much. Sometimes it smells a bit, other times it doesn't really. But one thing is for sure: every girl that showed a photo of her clean underwear is a phony. Source: iStock
Putting On Underwear At The Wrong Time Can Cause An InfectionSpeaking of underwear, 2016 was also the year we were told to stop putting underwear on immediately after taking a shower. A medical director told Glamour that putting on underwear when your down there area isn't fully dry makes the perfect environment to harvest bacteria and can lead to a bacterial or yeast infection. Give yourself some time before getting dressed! Source: iStock
The Zika Virus Flourishes In Your VaginaRemember when we were all terrified of the possibility of getting the Zika virus before we started focusing on how we were in the midst of electing a giant Cheeto human as our president? I bet you forgot! Well, let me remind you. A study from 2016 found that Zika flourishes in vaginas. The research "shows that not only did the Zika virus thrive inside the vagina, but it spread to the fetal brain and caused weight loss." Cool! Fun! Source: iStock
Sticking Herbal Balls In Your Vag Will Not Help ItAnother year, another insanely ridiculous "natural" trend for taking care of your vagina. When one beauty blogger wrote about her "vagina detox" it immediately got picked up and went viral. The blogger claimed that she she used "womb detox pearls" (essentially little baggies of herbs) in her vagina for three days to tighten and refresh it. Please do not do this. Not only are they not FDA approved, but doctors were even encouraging women to stay away from them. Because that's not how the vagina works. You don't just stick some herbs up there, let it marinate a bit, and then take them out to reveal a whole new vag. They will probably do nothing, but they could cause toxic shock syndrome, so just please stay away from them.
Spinning Harms Your VaginaAnyone who has ever taken a spin class like SoulCycle or Flywheel knows that it hurts your vag... like, a lot. This year, science confirmed it. A study came out saying that cycling can desensitize your vagina. According to Teen Vogue, "Handlebars positioned lower than the saddle lead to decreased genital sensation, researchers found, because of the way pressure is distributed. That contributes to decreased sexual feeling." This doesn't mean you should give up on cycling forever - the study looked at avid riders who did up to 10 miles a day - but just be careful with that area when taking a class. Source: iStock
Vaginaplasty Is Not A Good IdeaSurprise, surprise - research this year found that getting surgery on your vagina just to make it look "better" is not a great idea! As doctors saw the popularity of it increasing, they made it clear that research found no significant improvements from the surgery when looking at women who had it. Considering the risks that go along with the procedure, you're better off just leaving things alone. Source: iStock
Vitamin E Tips Are UselessThis is another example of why we should stop listening to celebrities when it comes to vagina advice. This year, Khloe Kardashian wrote about how she uses Vitamin E to strengthen her vaginal lining, to moisturize her vag (???), and to soothe irritation. Cosmopolitan did some digging and spoke to a medical professional, who said Vitamin E will do basically none of those things, and you're better off keeping it away from the sensitive area. Source: iStock
Which one of these vagina lessons did you forget? What did we forget to add? What did you find the most interesting? Share in the comments!