When we were children, our parents and teachers would sit us down and teach us our anatomy. “Can you point to your ears?” “Where’s your tongue?” “Wiggle your toes!” But sadly, many adults find it too difficult or awkward to teach all of the body parts to children. “Can you point to your vulva?” “Where’s your clitoris?” “Can you say vagina?”
But our bodies are “wonderful and fearfully made” (Psalm 139:14), filled with the evidence of God’s genius. It can be a deeply spiritual and significant experience to shed some of our embarrassment about our sexual body parts for the sake of understanding the bodies that God gave us. We know that sex is private and that our sexual organs are meant to be handled with respect. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t know and understand them, does it?
I Corinthians 6:19 calls our bodies a temple of the Holy Spirit. Our literal, physical bodies are a dwelling place for God, just as Solomon’s temple or the tabernacle was a place that God chose to reside to be near us. So if our bodies are a temple, a home for God, then we would want to investigate and explore every nook and cranny for the sake of knowing how to properly worship God with it.
If you’re haven’t already, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the names and appearance of all your sexual organs. However, some parts play a larger role than others. So here are the cliff notes:
That tulip shaped area between your legs is your vulva. (People often refer to this as your vagina, but that’s not accurate.) It’s covered with dark hair (called pubic hair) and feels soft and cushy.
You’ll notice that your vulva is separated down the middle by two “lips”. These are your labia majora, and if you fold these back you’ll find a second set, your labia minora. These protect the three holes between your legs.
The first (and the one that’s closest to your front) is your urethra. It’s really tiny, just a little slit and it’s so close to the vagina that many people get the two confused. Your urine comes out of this hole.The second hole is the opening into your vagina. This is where your blood flows out during your period. Your vagina is about four to six inches long and it’s essentially a tube that runs from the opening up to your uterus. (Sometimes, people refer to all of your sexual organs as the “vagina”.) The third hole is your anus, where your feces (poop) comes out.
The clitoris is another important part of your body. In normal circumstances, it’s tiny, smaller than the tip of your finger, and you can find it by folding out the lips of your outer and inner labia. You can see where all the folds kind of connect near the front (I like to think of it as the top) of your vulva. If you think of your vulva as an upside down rosebud, with the lips of your labia as the flower petals, think of your clitoris as the point where all the petals come together at the stem. Every woman’s clitoris is different, but you may be able to see it if you uncover it from all the “petals” and a tiny “hood” that covers it. Again, it will look like the tip of your finger, just barely visible.
The clitoris is actually a shaft, much the shape of a male penis, that runs almost parallel to your vagina. The part that is visible is considered the head of the shaft, and also the most sensitive part. I actually think it looks a lot like the tip of a man’s penis, although slightly smaller and more delicate.
The clitoris is an incredibly significant body part, because it’s the only organ in the human body whose only purpose is sexual pleasure. Only women have them. God made a small, sensitive piece of your body whose only purpose is to give you sexual pleasure. What does that say about our God? What does that say about the way he wants us to participate in sex? Isn’t it kind of lovely and wonderful?
The hymen is a flap of tissue partially covering the entrance to the vagina. Every woman’s hymen looks different, but an easy way to describe it is to take your fingers and form an “O” with your thumb and forefinger. Now, using your other hand, pinch the flap of skin connecting your thumb and forefinger. This flap of skin in your “O” is similar to the way your hymen looks in your vagina. There’s no known reason for the hymen, although there is much speculation. The important thing to know is that you have one.
The last thing I’ll mention is your cervix. So you have your vagina, and at the opening to the vagina is the hymen. Well, at the end of your vagina is the opening to your uterus, and this opening is called the cervix. The best way to think of your cervix is like a turtleneck, with the uterus being the sweater. The cervix’s neck can be short and thick and open or long and thin and closed or any variation in between, and often changes depending on the day. Your cervix protects your uterus from anything unwanted getting inside and also produces a fluid during the times of the month that you are fertile.
So there you have it. The most important parts of your sexual anatomy. Vulva, labia major, labia minora, vagina, clitoris, hymen and cervix. All the other parts are important, too, just more like supporting cast instead of the main characters.
(Art by Mike Irwin)