Let’s clear up the debate once and for all – vulva vs. vagina. What’s the difference?

Look, we get it. Many might think, ‘who cares what we call our genitals?’ But the thing is, the words we use matter. When we say vulva instead of vagina, we’re talking about a completely different area, with different purposes and different ways of keeping things working. And if you need a good argument for why terminology matters, here’s one: it affects issues as important as sexual health.   

Let’s define the difference between the two.  

What exactly is the vulva?  

In short, it’s the whole shebang. Vulva is actually the correct term for the outside parts, including the pubic mound, the labia majora and minora, the ever-amazing clitoris, the external openings of the urethral opening (your pee hole) and the vaginal opening.   

NOTE: There are plenty of misconceptions about what an ideal vulva might look like (thanks to porn), but the truth is, all vulvas are fabulous – and not one vulva looks the same. Some vulvas are big, some are small, some have a lot of hair, and some don't have any. You get the gist. The point is - your vulva is normal, and better yet, AMAZING no matter what it looks like. 

 Vulva

What is my vagina then?  

The vagina is the muscular canal that connects the uterus to the vulva. It’s where your menstrual flow passes through, and where babies are delivered through during childbirth. An important thing to note is that the vagina is a mucous membrane and capable of secreting and absorbing fluids at a higher rate than skin! Hence why, it’s super important to pay attention to products you put in there. Things like endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), carcinogens, or allergens are no joke as the mucous membranes in both the vagina and vulva rapidly absorb chemicals into your blood stream.  

DID YOU KNOW: Many tampons and intimate hygiene products can contain these harmful ingredients?  

How do I use the terms correctly?  

When you’re talking about putting something in or taking something out, like a menstrual cup, you are correct to use the word vagina. Vulva is the exterior part, and the word should be used when describing the outer parts.  

Why does it matter?  

Understanding your body is essential to building healthy relationships and for staying on top of your reproductive health. Knowing your anatomy and knowing how to do regular self-checkups can help ensure that problems affecting your vulva or vagina are diagnosed as soon as possible. It will be much easier to explain your health concerns to your doctor if you’re using accurate and specific terminology.  

When it comes to sexual pleasure, referring just to the vagina is pushing aside some important parts of your intimate bits, such as the clitoris. Using the right terminology is going to make a world of difference for you - and your partner, since most people with vaginas need stimulation on their clitoris to feel sexual pleasure.   

Vulva & vagina have different functions 

The vagina is an amazing organ. It’s there to enable people to become pregnant and give birth to children. It’s lined with a mucous membrane that protects against infection, as well as complex mix of bacteria – also known as vaginal flora. It’s like a self-cleaning oven, which cleans itself by regularly expelling the mix of fluid and cells you probably know as discharge. Washing or douching your vagina can upset your vagina’s delicate pH balance, opening the door for issues like bacterial vaginosis.

The vulva in the other hand acts as the gatekeeper for the uterus. It provides protection by opening and closing the lips of the vulva, officially known as labia majora and minora, while the clitoris acts as the headquarters for sexual response. Pretty cool, right? It’s important to note that the external vulva area needs assistance with cleaning itself, unlike the vagina.  

So, I SHOULD clean my vulva?  

This is where the biggest misconceptions lie. While vaginas are self-cleansing, vulvas need to be cleansed. We’ve all read the articles and heard the experts preach about NOT putting any chemicals down there. And that is totally accurate. Vaginas are complex organs, containing a delicate balance of bacteria that work tirelessly to keep you clean. The bacteria also keep you a wee bit acidic, which is the way your vagina likes it. The introduction of anything that kills off some of these bacteria can knock your pH balance out of whack, resulting in some unpleasant health problems.  Keeping the vulva clean the correct way can make a huge difference when it comes to preventing vaginal infections. The good news? Maintaining good intimate hygiene is incredibly simple. Basically, leave your vagina alone and clean your vulva with water or Lunette Intimate Cleanser.  Soap is not welcome down there, since the skin is so sensitive and delicate. If using cleansers, they should be designed for that purpose. (We beg you: don’t use hand soap on your intimate bits.) 

What makes the Lunette Intimate Cleanser unique?  

Plenty of daily things can disrupt your pH balance, such as period blood, lube, semen, sweat and synthetic underwear or pads. Many also tend to get irritation and vaginal dryness after using soaps for vaginal cleansing. People then turn to oils. Oil is fine but can only cleanse impurities soluble in oil, while water soluble impurities will remain on your intimate parts.  

Lunette Intimate Cleanser

Our intimate cleanser is a totally new and patented concept. Recommended by gynecologists, it leaves your delicate skin feeling cleansed, revived, and hydrated, whenever you want a little self-care down there.  How does it differ from all the other products out there? 

Here’s the deal 

The Lunette Intimate Cleanser is made of a water-based gel and Nordic botanical oil rich in omega 3 and omega 6 in an optimal ratio. There are a few points that make our cleanser totally unique and optimal for long-term vulvovaginal health:  

  1. It will cleanse both water and oil soluble impurities 
  2. It has an intimate area adopted osmolality. It mimics the hydration level of the intimate area causing the cells of the body to pull just the correct amount of water out of the product keeping the skin moisturized, instead of drying it out.
  3. Omega 3 and 6 are fatty acids essential for skin health. They make sure that the cleanser is extra gentle to your vulva. NOTE: Pay extra attention to the ratio of omega 3 and 6 in a product. In our cleanser they are 1:2, which is optimal for the body and skin.  
  4. Our cleanser has a pH that will keep your vagina balanced and healthy!  

Here are some other ways to keep your vagina & vulva happy 

In addition to basically leaving your vagina alone and cleaning your vulva with water or Lunette Intimate Cleanser, there are other things you can do to keep your nether regions free and clear of irritation. Here are some good tips for good vulvovaginal care:  

  • Wear breathable 100 percent natural fiber underwear, like cotton or bamboo, and steer clear of synthetics like nylon, polyamide and acrylic 
  • Switch to a Lunette Cup or Lunette Reusable Pads, both are specifically designed to look after your sensitive bits and won’t disrupt your pH.  
  • Stay away from scented hygiene products like douches, sprays, deodorants, bubble bath, and talcum powder.  
  • Get to know your anatomy and do regular checkups.  
  • Invest in Lunette Intimate Range   

It’s crucial that we are all body aware for the sake of our health and wellbeing. We should all know what symptoms or irregularities to look out for and when to seek help. If you think about it, your partner, your gynecologist and your smear nurse have probably got more idea of what your vulva looks like than you do. But it’s amazingly empowering to reclaim your body and connect with yourself a little bit better. So, if you haven’t already, grab a hand mirror and get to know your fabulous intimate bits – and consider investing in products specifically designed to look out for your vulva and vagina.  

Shop for a Lunette CupLunette Reusable Pads and Intimate Range today!

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