There’s something about vagina talk that causes awkwardness for many. Despite being an essential aspect of women’s health, there's a surprising lack of basic knowledge about female sex organs. Last year, a survey of 1,000 British women revealed only half were able to spot their vaginas on diagrams of the female reproductive system.

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Gynecologist Alyssa Dweck, M.D. and author of the upcoming Complete A to Z for Your V, out June 1, says the taboo about female anatomy is real. “I don’t know whether it’s cultural or has a religious impact to it, or it’s just that the social climate has made this a more hidden, private topic,” she explains. However, the expert has noticed women becoming more comfortable with body talk.

While the wonders and mysteries of vaginal health could fill many books, here are seven important things you likely don't know, but should. 

There Is No Normal

Everyone wants to know if their vagina is normal, but the truth is, the concept just doesn’t exist. “I do get a lot of questions if everything looks normal, if they’re too big, how will they know whether things are normal,” Dweck explains of the most common concern. If you’re worried that your labia is too chubby, wrinkly or saggy, stop fretting—there is no archetype of the perfect vagina. “There are hundreds of thousands of shapes and sizes of what a vulva should look like, so it’s what’s normal for you,” says Dweck.

The Vagina Is Like A Self Cleaning Oven

Despite doctors' repeated warnings that douching can throw off your body's pH, or acidity level, the misconception that vaginas are dirty or smelly persist. But Dweck says that genitals have their own mechanisms for staying clean and healthy, meaning there’s no need for special products or scented soaps of any kind. 

Vaginal Discharge May Fluctuate Depending On The Time Of Year

If the amount of fluid found on your panties seems to change with the seasons, there’s a reason for that. While the weather itself doesn’t actually impact the way a vagina functions, your habits can.  Seasonal allergy sufferers are likely keeping those sniffles at bay using over-the-counter medication, which could reduce the amount of discharge you see. The reason? “Antihistamines don’t know whether they’re drying up discharge in the vagina or nose,” explains Dweck. 

A Tampon Has No Affect On Your IUD

According to Dweck, many believe using a tampon with an IUD could cause the contraceptive to fall out. Totally false. “An IUD is in your uterus, not in your vagina, and so a tampon is not going to disturb that,” she says. 

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You Should Blow Dry Your Vulva After Sex

Wait, what? To be clear, yeast infections are not considered sexually transmitted infections, but they can occur after intercourse. This is simply an unpleasant reaction to your partner's natural genital yeast (yes, we all have it). To avoid a postcoitus infection, our expert recommends rinsing then blow drying your vulva (on the cool setting) to get rid of moisture as yeast and bacteria love wet, hidden places. The gyno also advises washing and drying all sex toys, avoiding lube with glycerin and using condoms without the Nonoxynol 9 spermicide.

Go To The Gyno (Even Without A Pap)

Now that pap smear recommendations have been reduced to every three years for women younger than 30 and every five years for females beyond that, many incorrectly bypass their yearly gynecological exam. “We do everything but that one test,” Dweck clarifies, saying that a full physical and medical history review is conducted. Plus, there may be symptoms or something from your past that triggers the need for a pap.

Nothing About Your Vagina Will Horrify Them

Gynecologists are pretty much unshockable, according to Dweck. She advises bringing up any question or concern you may have, no matter how silly, stupid or embarrassing it may seem. Patients have consulted with her about everything from sexual positions and orgasms to grooming and vajazzling. No matter what you can think up, your doctor has most likely heard it before and can give you honest, unbiased, medical advice.

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