Vulva in your vocab

Knowing the correct terminology, names and functions for your body parts is an important aspect of growing up. When we know our bodies, we can look after them better.

For many years families like yours and mine have used slang terms for body parts and functions, especially when it comes to our private body parts, such as the genitals, breast and buttocks.

Knowing your body is loving your body.

Research has shown that not using the correct names for the genitals can sometimes have a negative impact on us as we grow up. It can lead to adults who feel too embarrassed to talk about their bodies with their partners or with health professionals.

When we know the correct terms for our body parts, it can make it easier for us to learn about other health related topics and supports us to develop confident communication skills, which we need when we want to ask questions and get advice.

Here’s everything you need to know about the female anatomy!

Image © Tough Cookies Sex Ed Toolkit


When people refer to the “vagina,” what they usually mean is the vulva, which includes all the external parts, including the inner and outer lips.

Labia Majora/Outer Lips

These are the first things you see, and where pubic hair grows. The labia majora’s function is to protect the more sensitive parts inside.

Labia Minora/Inner Lips

The labia minora provide the second layer of protection for the vaginal and urethra openings. They also have glands that lubricate the area to help keep the body comfortable. Some people worry about how this part of their body looks. The lips might not be symmetrical, on some people they extend outside the labia majora, this is totally normal. It is important to understand that our labia are unique and that everybody is different.

Clitoris and Clitoral Hood

The tiny bit of the clitoris which is what you see at the top of the external area is said to contains 8,000 nerve endings and is a really sensitive part of the body. The hood, which is the skin that surrounds it is there to protect the clitoris.

Urethra/Urinary opening

This is a small opening, where urine comes out, is is situated right below the clitoris. It’s hard to see, and you can’t really feel anything. Important fact! – pee doesn’t come out of the vaginal opening.

Vagina/Vaginal opening

So do you see now why calling the whole thing a “vagina” is not exactly accurate? The vagina, a muscular tube, is also called the birth canal, it is where tampons are inserted and leads to the cervix and uterus.

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