Mysteries of the Deep: Demystifying the Vagina and Its Surroundings

Mysteries of the Deep: Demystifying the Vagina and Its Surroundings

The vagina is more than a canal leading to the cervix.


Lets start from the inside.

an in depth understanding

Separate the labia minora and you are at the vulvar vestibule. The vaginal opening is at the bottom. The vagina extends from this opening all the way to the cervix and is made up of three layers, mucosa, muscularis, and adventitia. The layers work together to allow the vagina to do all the things it does - have pleasurable penetrative intercourse, birth babies, menstruate, and more.  

If you insert a finger, toy, or penis into the vagina it is touching the vaginal wall. The layer you are touching is known as the mucosa and is composed of a layer of non-keratinized stratified squamous epithelium with a network of blood vessels, lymph, and nerves deep to it, the lamina propria.

What does this mean?

It means the vaginal wall is composed of tissue that allows it to stay moist and tolerate friction, stretch, and abrasion without injury with blood vessels below to lubricate the vagina during arousal. For comparison, our mouths also have this type of tissue.

The vagina is not a dormant structure. This tissue changes based on hormones, pregnancy status, and menstrual cycle.

The muscularis layer is the next layer and is deeper. It is made up of muscle. This type of muscle is smooth muscle and is not within your control to contract and relax. It will contract automatically to expel menstrual blood and during arousal to support orgasm.

The adventitia layer is the next layer and is again deeper. This layer is made up of elastin and collagen which allows the vagina to stretch for birth and penetration.

The vagina is complex and it should be appreciated as such. Too often the vagina is understood as just a narrow canal with no individual active function. These layers interact together constantly to provide appropriate vaginal function.


Learn to Feel Your Structures

More than a canal

Think of the vaginal canal more like a wine glass. It starts narrow and then opens up into what is called the vaginal vault. If you insert a finger into the vagina and follow along the vaginal wall, you will feel the vagina starts to widen towards the top. This is a little difficult to feel on your own.

Turn your finger to the top of the vagina, towards the pubic bone, you will feel a structure that feels like a penne pasta. Here you are feeling the urethra through the vagina. On either side of the urethra, imagine your finger is falling off the pasta, you will find the paraurethral tissue. The paraurethral tissue is often referred to as the g-spot and can be a highly excitable area for sexual pleasure.

Turn your finger down, towards the anus, you will feel the rectum through the vagina.  


Insert your finger straight into the vagina; you will feel a structure that often feels like the tip of a nose. Here you are feeling the cervix. You may feel a small opening in the center or slight depression. This is the os of the cervix and is where menstrual blood and babies will leave the uterus. The cervix changes in height and firmness depending on where the person is in their menstrual cycle or pregnancy status.

Moving Deeper: Feeling the Pelvic Floor Muscles

The pelvic floor muscles are behind the vaginal wall throughout the entire length of the vagina. These muscles should be able to contract, relax, and lengthen just like any other muscle in the body. With a finger inserted into the vagina, contract the pelvic floor muscles and you will feel the walls of the vagina tighten around your finger and slightly lift up. Relax the pelvic floor muscles and you will feel them let go. Gently bear down and you will feel the muscles drop down.

If you dont feel any of these motions, a referral to a pelvic floor physical therapist could help a person regain control of these muscles.

These muscles have many functions for continence and pelvic organ support, but one of their most important functions is supporting arousal, pleasure, and orgasm.


It takes time to fully understand the vagina and the changes it undergoes with sexual arousal, the menstrual cycle, and pregnancy. I hope this encourages you to explore and eliminates the mysteries of the vagina. Happy exploring!




All content copyright Ariel Zablocki




Carrière, B., Feldt, C. M., & Bø, K. (2006). The pelvic floor. Thieme.


Image Credit: Shuttershock Contributor Nau Nau, ID: 1105784441




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