What's The Difference Between 'Vagina' And 'Vulva'? Let Us Explain

While most people use the word “vagina” as the dominant term for the whole genital area, it’s actually just part of the package. Learn everything you wanted to know about it and the vulva here!

What's The Difference Between 'Vagina' And 'Vulva'? Let Us Explain

What's The Difference Between 'Vagina' And 'Vulva'? Let Us Explain

What's The Difference Between 'Vagina' And 'Vulva'? Let Us Explain

4 minute read

Vagina? Vulva? They both start and end with the same letter, are in the same general region of the body, and are often confused—so what exactly is the difference between them?

While many people (mistakenly) use the words interchangeably, the vulva refers to the outside parts of the genital area that you can see. The vagina, on the other hand, is the canal-like structure on the inside of the body. While you can see the entrance of the vagina, the rest is hidden from view (unless you have the proper tools to peer inside!).

Parts Of The Vulva

For the sake of your and/or your partner’s pleasure (or general knowledge!), understanding the anatomy of the vulva is super important. So here’s the lowdown on what’s up down there:

Labia

First there are the outer labia or “lips,” where hair grows. Inside the outer labia is another set of labia called the inner labia. These labia feel and look different—they’re softer, wet, flexible, and hairless.

Labia come in a wide array of variations. Some people, for example, have prominent and plump outer labia, while others’ are much slimmer. And the outer labia may cover the inner labia completely, or the inner labia may be visible in-between. Inner labia may also extend beyond their outer labia, and this is totally normal.

While people often worry about the size, shape, and color of their inner labia, it’s important to know that they come in a wide array of variations and there’s no one “right” kind of labia.

While people often worry about the size, shape, and color of their inner labia, it’s important to know that there’s no one “correct” or “perfect” kind of labia.

Clitoris

The clitoris has a lot of nerve endings—an estimated 8,000—and is the main area of sexual sensation for people with vulvas. It can feel great to stimulate the clitoris with a finger, vibrator, or a partner’s tongue.

From the outside, the clitoris looks like an oval-shaped, pea-sized nub. This is the head or “glans” of the clitoris, and it is covered by a movable piece of protective skin called the clitoral hood. While the head of the clit is about the size of a pea, the whole clitoris is much bigger. Internally, the clit is about 3-4 inches long and stretches down either side of the vulva in a wishbone shape.

Vagina

The vagina is the canal-like structure nestled inside the labia. Not only does it create its own lubrication when it becomes sexually aroused, but it can expand to double its size during penetration.

Many people enjoy having their vaginas stimulated or penetrated with a finger, sex toy, or penis. The first third of the vagina is usually the most sensitive part, whereas deeper inside is less sensitive.

It, too, has a couple of notable parts:

  • G-Spot: The g-spot is a nexus of tissues that is sexually sensitive for some people. Located in the front wall of the vagina, the g-spot can feel like a spongy mound when touched. Many people enjoy a massage-like pressure on their g-spot from a finger, toy, or penis, although others find it just feels like they need to pee.
The clitoris has a lot of nerve endings and is the main area of sexual sensation for people with vulvas.
  • Cervix: At the very top of the vagina is the cervix, which feels like a rounded bump to the touch (kind of like the tip of your nose). The cervix is the end of the vagina and acts as a doorway to the uterus inside the body. For some people this is also a sexually enjoyable area, while for others it may not be pleasurable to touch.

How Many Holes Are There?

There are three different holes in the genital area: the urethra, the vagina, and the anus. The urethra is the hole where urine comes out, and is located between the head of the clitoris and the vaginal opening. The vagina is located a little further back, between the urethra and the anus. The anus is the hole furthest to the back.

Now that you’ve got all these different parts down, you’re a vulva pro!

Related Articles:

What Is A G-Spot?

How To Find The Clit

How To Use Lube

What Is The Clit?

What To Know About Having Sex For The First Time

How Do I Know When I’m Ready To Have Sex For The First Time?

Louise Bourchier, MPH

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

Louise Bourchier is a sex educator and sex researcher with 8 years experience in the field. She teaches about sexual health, sexual pleasure, and communication in relationships through workshops, live-streams, and with written content. Using a sex-positive approach, a dash of humour, and bag full of fun props, Louise’s style of sex education for adults is not what you got in high school! Since 2011 she has taught over a hundred workshops to a wide range of audiences, from university students, to refugees, to medical professionals, to adult store clientele. She has a Masters of Public Health, and is currently a PhD candidate.

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