The Vagina: What You Should Know About the Reproductive System

The Vagina is a Muscle, Not an Organ

Pregnant woman
Julia Wheeler and Veronika Laws/Photodisc

Definition: The vagina is the muscular passageway from the exterior of a woman's body to the cervix.

The Vagina Explained

The vagina is the muscular tube the is the passage from the uterus to the outside of the body.  The vagina, and its ability to change in size, makes childbirth possible as well as sexual intercourse.  

The vagina has multiple unique properties when compared to other areas of the body.

 The vagina is lined with mucous membranes that secrete lubricating fluid.  This fluid makes the vagina slippery, and makes sexual intercourse more comfortable.  The vagina also allows for the passage of menstrual blood out of the body.  

Child birth is possible because of the ability of the both the cervix and the vagina to change in size.  During child birth, the circular cervix opens, allowing the fetus to move out of the uterus and into the vagina.  The vagina is also able to change in size, relaxing and contracting like any other muscle, which helps push the fetus from the body.  

The Size of the Vagina

The size of the vagina varies widely from one woman to the next.  Even amongst adult women vaginal size is not consistent, and may vary during the lifespan.

Kegel Exercises

Exercises that tighten the muscles of the vagina are called Kegel Exercises.  They are not designed to change the size of the vagina, but to strengthen the muscles of the vagina.

 Some women do these exercises to treat incontinence, but others report that Kegels can improve sensation during sexual intercourse. 

Additional structures of the Female Reproductive Tract:

The Clitoris

The Cervix

The Fallopian Tubes

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Pronunciation: vuh-JYE-nuh

Also Known As: birth canal, pussy (slang)

Common Misspellings: vajina, vaginah,

Examples: During the birth of a child contractions help push the baby through the vagina.

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