A Sexual Anatomy Tour


The vagina is a tube-shaped organ that has both reproductive and sexual pleasure related functions and capacities. Below we’ll focus on the sexual pleasure aspects of the vagina.

The vagina is often described as being “potential space” or a balloon that hasn’t been blown up. When a woman is unaroused, the vaginal walls rest against each other. The vaginal walls are made up of three layers: an inner layer lined with membranes similar to those in the mouth that feel ridged or bumpy to the touch, a middle layer which is muscular, and an outer covering layer.

For most women, the vagina is self-lubricating and usually a little wet on the inside. Descriptions of the vagina are usually based on imagining a woman standing up, so the bottom of the vagina is where the vaginal opening is. The top of the vagina connects to the cervix, which is also the bottom of the uterus. The vagina is on an angle in the body, tilting slightly backward from bottom to top.

The lower third of the vagina, nearest to the vaginal opening, is the area with the most nerve endings and where most women will have the greatest sensitivity. The upper two-thirds of the vagina have relatively few nerve endings, and most women will only feel sensation from deep pressure. The cervix, which lies at the top of the vagina, has many nerve cells. Most women find something touching the cervix to be uncomfortable and/or painful, although some women enjoy the feeling of pressure against the cervix.

The Size of the Vagina
Some people are concerned about vaginal size, believing that either their vagina is too small or too large for a particular partner or sexual activity. For most women, the vagina changes in size dramatically based on how aroused they are. At rest, a vagina may only be 3 to 4 inches in length.

But when a woman is turned on, it elongates and swells like a balloon. It also gets wetter and more accommodating. When people talk about a “loose” or “tight” vagina, what that’s actually referring to is the muscles around the vaginal opening and not the actual size of the vaginal canal or walls. Like any other muscle, a healthy woman can exercise the muscles around the vagina (these are called Kegel exercises), which can have an impact on how sex feels both for her and for a partner.

Sexual Pleasure and the Vagina
Probably the best way to think about the vagina and sexual pleasure is to ignore everything you read and take your own sexual anatomy tour of the vagina. If you’re experiencing pain, you should see a doctor. Otherwise, if you’re looking for some more pleasure, you’d do well to avoid the experts who promise a magic spot or technique and find out what works for you (or your partner). What little research we have on the sexual pleasure capacity of the vagina suggests that there is a lot of variability among women in terms of where they are most sensitive and what they like.