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The Truth About Vulva vs. Vagina: An Interview with Dr. Melanie Altas

In this episode of "Sharing My Truth," we intreview Dr Melanie Altas to understand all things Vulva. We talk about why the words "vagina" and "vulva" are frequently misused, how this affects women and their relationships, and the key health issues women should know about with regards to their vula.


What is the Vulva?


The vulva is the external part of the female genitalia. It includes several components, such as the labia majora and labia minora (outer and inner "lips" of the genital area), the clitoris, the mons pubis (the fatty area over the pubic bone), the vaginal opening, and the urethral opening. The vulva encompasses all of these structures and serves as the visible external part of the female genital region.


What is the Vagina?


The vagina is an internal structure. It is a muscular, tubular organ that connects the external genitalia (vulva) to the uterus. The vagina plays several roles, including serving as the passage for menstrual flow, a birth canal during childbirth, and facilitating sexual intercourse. It is an elastic and self-lubricating organ that can expand during sexual activity and childbirth and contract back to its normal size.

Who is Dr. Melanie Altas?

Dr.Melanie Altas

She is a Gynaecologist and Clinical Associate Professor at the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at University of British Columbia. She is also a director at the BC Centre for Vulvar Health which is located at Vancouver General Hospital .She is also a sexual medicine consultant at the BC Cancer Agency.



The Truth About Vulva vs. Vagina


In the recent podcast episode, "The Truth About Vulva vs. Vagina," Dr. Melanie Altas sheds light on the longstanding confusion surrounding these two terms. Many people incorrectly use "vagina" to refer to the external genitalia, when in fact, it is the internal canal connecting the uterus to the outside. The vulva, on the other hand, encompasses the external female genital organs, including the labia, clitoris, and vaginal opening.

Does it matter if we use the word vulva or not?


Why do we call the vulva a vagina? Is it because vulva sounds too medical and the word pussy too "porny". According to the American feminist and psychologist Harriet Lerner not using the word "vulva" correctly has serious consequences, calling it a “psychic genital mutilation”. The vagina relates to penetrative pleasure, the vulva is the soure of a woman's pleasure. Is that the reason we don't care about the word vulva?

Promoting Correct Terminology

It's crucial to educate and empower women about their own anatomy,to dispel the confusion and encourage the use of accurate terminology, i.e., "vagina" for the internal canal and "vulva" for the external genitalia. This not only helps women understand and appreciate their bodies but also fosters better communication and healthier relationships.

In the podcast, Dr. Melanie Altas highlights the significance of using the right terms, shedding light on their impact on women's lives and relationships. By advocating for correct terminology, we can contribute to a more informed and open society.

Conclusion

Understanding the difference between "vagina" and "vulva" is not just about semantics; it's about empowering women and fostering healthier relationships. Let's embrace the truth and promote the use of these words as they are meant to be used. By doing so, we can create a more inclusive and educated world where women are comfortable in their own skin and able to communicate effectively in all aspects of their lives.

By clicking on the provided links, you can explore the full podcast episode and gain deeper insights into this important topic.


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