From healthy births to sustainable management, 5 essential reads on the fascinating and complex vagina – Philippine Canadian Inquirer

The vagina is actually a working organ in its own right, with its own ecosystem. (Picture Pixabay)

As the most common way to get into the world, the human vagina has, of course, been around since there are people. Despite its name, however, it is not so much a “sheath” – the Latin meaning of “vagina” – as a muscular tube of varying shapes and lengths, contained unseen within the pelvis. vs

Thus, The Conversation presents a selection of stories from the archives that offer insight into the once mysterious, often maligned and still misunderstood vagina.

1. Passing through the vagina can improve your health

If you are a baby, of course. Newborns traveling through the birth canal to their parents’ homes instead of the hospital are exposed to more bacteria in the vagina, which could benefit them, suggested Joan Combellick, assistant clinical professor at Sage. -wife at Yale.

Hospital sterility measures eliminate much of the potentially helpful bacteria, Combellick suggested in her research, which showed that babies born at home are more likely to be exposed to their mother’s vaginal microbiomes.

2. Vaginas of other species can be just as beneficial

Researchers have observed that the offspring of mice and other animals derive other health benefits from passing through the vagina. Helen Vuong, a postdoctoral researcher who studies integrative biology and physiology at UCLA, shared her research on maternal microbiology.

“Specifically, my study identified how a mother mouse’s microbiome influences the formation of axons – long nerve fibers that project from a neuron – in her offspring, affecting their ability to sense their surroundings,” Vuong wrote. Axons are important for relaying sensory information, such as sounds and smells, allowing mice to hear a potential predator approaching or to smell when food is nearby. The study does not indicate whether humans benefit in the same way.

3. Vaginal role in menstruation can be sustainably managed

When the body finds that there is no baby on board this month, this accumulation of blood and other matter in the uterus in the event of pregnancy is ultimately unnecessary. At this point, the uterus literally throws everything down the chute. Helping with menstruation is one of the dirtiest jobs in the vagina. Containing the clutter, however, doesn’t have to harm the environment, wrote Susan Powers, professor of sustainable environmental systems at Clarkson University.

Using figures from a media survey, Powers determined that the average woman responding to the survey uses 240 tampons or maxi pads in a year, which is only 10% of a woman’s 10-year lifespan. a menstrual cup. In addition to being reusable, however, the cup also has one-tenth the overall impact of making and disposing of tampons or pads.

4. Vaginas don’t work alone.

At the inner end of the vagina is the cervix, which could be a major source of vaginal sexual pleasure, wrote Barry Komisaruk, a psychologist at Rutgers University in Newark. He and psychobiology professor María Cruz Rodríguez del Cerro highlighted the 1953 book “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female” by Alfred Kinsey.

Komisaruk and del Cerro pointed to one of the Kinsey researchers’ lesser-known findings: when investigators stimulated the women’s cervix with “distinct pressure” using “an object larger than a probe.” , 84% of these women said they could smell it. Researchers have suggested that nerve connections in the cervix and vagina may be why women whose cervix has been altered or surgically removed have reported losing erotic sensation in their vagina.

5. ‘Vagina’ isn’t the final word on gender identity.

Lots of people have vaginas. But not all vagina owners see themselves as girls, women or even women, according to Carl Streed, professor of medicine at Boston University, and Frances Grimstad, assistant professor of gynecology at Harvard University.

They wrote that some people born with vaginas also had testicles, or they “produced significant amounts of testosterone,” the hormone associated with male sexual development. Such cases, the professors wrote, suggest that sex designation exists on a spectrum and that the binary categories of male and female are “incomplete and inaccurate” in determining sex. So a vagina alone cannot determine who a woman is. Some women don’t have vaginas, and some people who do aren’t women.

Editor’s note: This story is a summary of articles from The Conversation archives.The conversation

Leah Samuel, Health + Equity Editor, The conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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