What are vaginas?

Understanding your vagina is so important! Knowing how it works and the function of each part can enhance your enjoyment of masturbation or sex. It will also help you keep healthy down there.

Is it called a ‘vagina’ or ‘vulva’?

Lots of people call female genitalia ‘vagina’. Is this accurate? Well, not really. The body part called the ‘vagina’ is actually the opening between the legs which leads to the womb. ‘Vulva’ is the more accurate term for female genitalia. Take a look at the diagram below to see what we mean. 

Important: this diagram is only an approximation of what a vagina looks like. Yours might be different, and that’s okay.


Just like any other part of the body, vulvas come in all shapes, sizes and colours. But they are hidden away and many people have never even seen their own. ‘Labia’ (the lips or folds of skin that sit on either side of the vaginal opening) comes in all shapes, sizes, colours and textures. Everyone is unique.


At the top of the labia minora, there is a fold of skin called the ‘clitoral hood’. This connects to the tip of the clitoris. The clitoris actually extends internally and is full of nerve endings- 15,000 of them- and the tip of the clitoris is usually the most sensitive area on the vulva and is the only organ on the entire body that’s sole purpose is sexual arousal.

Labia Majora and Labia Minora

People with female anatomies have two sets of labia: the labia majora (outer labia) and the labia minora (inner labia), which sit inside the outer labia. There are lots of other names for the labia minora. You might call them flaps or lips but, whatever you call them, the labia minora have a very important function. They protect the vagina and they’re also full of nerve endings that provide sensation and lubrication during sex.

Public hair

Pubic hair is the hair that grows around the genital and anal regions. It varies in colour, texture, length and thickness. It might grow up the front, back or onto the thighs. Pubic hair provides protection and cushioning to your genitals, and transmits sensation. Some people choose to get rid of their pubic hair for fashion or cultural reasons. 


The urethra is the urinary opening, the tiny opening where wee comes out from.


The vagina is the passage between the uterus and the external genitals. It is only one part of the vulva, but many people don’t know that there’s a difference between ‘vagina’ and ‘vulva’. The only part of the vagina that’s visible from the outside is the opening. Most of the vagina is actually on the inside and it leads all the way up to the cervix.

Learn more
  • To learn more about vaginas and vulvas, we strongly recommend The Labia Library. They tackle the important questions like ‘Are my labia normal?’ (the answer is ‘yes’). Note: this website contains actual pictures of labia, so you may want to view it in private.
Where to get help

If you need support with your sexual health, speak to a professional:

  • Family Planning Alliance Australia has links to sexual health clinics around the country. Visiting a sexual health clinic is really useful if you want to talk to someone face-to-face about your body.

Need someone to talk to? Free, confidential support is available.

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We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which Rosie has been created, the Wurundjeri Woiwurrung people of the Kulin Nation, and pay our respects to elders past and present. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

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