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The gentleman's guide to the vagina

It is what most men lust after, and more than a few women too. But how many of us really know what the vagina looks like, and how best to give the women we have sex with, the greatest pleasure possible?

Anne Sexton, 02 Aug 2005

Men, it has to be said, have come along way. In this post-Sex and the City world, you’d be hard pressed to find a man with most of his wits and teeth that does not understand the importance of the clitoris in female sexual satisfaction. Too true, but that’s only half the story.

Being the proud owner of my own operational set of female sexual organs, I have on occasion been eager to allow a certain chosen few to experience the wonder of this unique feat of biological engineering. However grateful the recipients of my largesse have been, there have been occasions on which I have had to remonstrate with them for their, well, ignorance (which, I can assure you, is not bliss).

As the average adult male will have dealings with quite a few vaginas over the course of a lifetime – hopefully, she said – it pays to know exactly what one is dealing with. And that applies to the ladies who like ladies as well. There is no such thing as too much information in this department. Therefore I would like to present to you all the Gentleman’s Guide to the Vagina.

The female sexual organs – an overview

Given that over half the inhabitants of the world have vaginas, and a large percentage of the rest dedicate an extraordinary amount of time trying to get up close and personal with them, I’m sure that most of you will have a fair idea of the basic biology. But just to be sure, here’s a run-down.

The vulva is the name given to all the external female sexual organs. Basically that means all the parts you can see. The pubic mound is the fatty tissue that covers the pubic bone. The labia majora and minora are the outer and inner lips of the vagina. The clitoris is at the top. The urethral opening is situated between the clitoris and the vaginal opening. As you’d expect, this is used to pee. Like faces, no two vaginas are exactly the same.

The clitoris

Around 80% of women need at least some form of clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm. Unlike the rest of the body, the clitoris has no function but as a source of pleasure. With almost 8,000 nerve endings, this tiny powerhouse is the greatest concentration of pleasure sensors found anywhere on the body. Like the penis, the clitoris is made of erectile tissue and swells when aroused. Only the outer part of the clit, called the head, can be seen and is covered by the clitoral hood. However the nerve endings stretch much further back. Clitorises come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but this does not seem to determine how sensitive they are.

Less satisfying is the fact that, in their enthusiasm to give pleasure, some men zone in immediately on this magic button and ignore the less obvious zones of the female body. Generally, this is not a good idea. The clitoris is so sensitive that unless the woman is at least partially aroused, getting jiggy with the clit too soon can be painful.

The vaginal opening and canal

Many people think the vagina is always open. This is not true. When not aroused, the walls of the vagina close together. The average vaginal canal is 7.5 to 9cm long. As almost all the sensitive nerve endings are in the outer third, the length of your penis doesn’t really matter that much to women. However, the same cannot be said for girth. The walls of the vagina are made of really strong muscles, and stretching them can give extreme pleasure. Why do you think most dildos are so big? Sorry lads, size does count.

The hymen

The hymen is the tiny membrane that partially covers the vaginal opening. This is traditionally seen as the symbol of female virginity because it is supposed to tear and bleed after the first experience of sexual intercourse. It’s a fairly unreliable indicator though, as this actually happens less than half the time. The hymen can be broken playing sports, horse-riding or just in the normal course of everyday life. In some women, the hymen is so small that having sex doesn’t affect it at all. Which means that a woman could shag her way through an entire football team and still, technically, be a virgin.

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