vulva & vagina: the difference discussed
Expert SaysGynaecologyVaginal HealthWellness

Vulva & Vagina: What’s the difference?

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Although a vulva and a vagina canal are close to each other on a woman’s body, many often use the words interchangeably, thinking they’re one or the other. The truth is that they are two very different parts of the female anatomy including a vulva and a vagina. We’re here to help you identify and know the difference between the functions of the vagina and the functions of the vulva too!

Where is the vulva located?

The vulva is located in the genital area from where pubic hair starts till your anus (or what is commonly known as the rectum or butthole).

Where is the vaginal canal located?

A vagina canal or passage starts at the introitus or the opening in the lower 2/3rd part of the labia minora. It lies between the rectum and the urethra, i.e. the pipe which drains urine from the bladder to the urinary opening.

Is the vulva a part of the vagina?

The vulva is the outer entrance of the vagina. It is a medical term designated to include various structures which guard the vaginal passage from any or all external intrusions.

Anatomically and developmentally, both the vulva and vagina are developed from similar tissues and the vagina is considered as the inner extension of the vulva. This is why many people confuse a vagina with a vulva.

How do the two function together or by themselves?

A vulva acts as a check post for the vagina.

The labial folds and mons pubis give soft-tissue padding to the internal organs and protect the inner passages like the vagina and the urethra from the inadvertent entry of organisms and foreign objects. The Bartholin’s gland secretions help at the time of intercourse, by secreting lubricating fluids at sexual excitation. The clitoris is known to be an important organ for sexual excitation, and eventually an orgasm for women. The presumed ‘G-spot’ is also located near it. 

The function of the vulva is to help in easing functions of the vagina. 

The vagina is a collapsed tube that connects the internal female organs, mainly the uterus to the outside. It provides a passage of menstrual blood, secretions, and the delivery of a baby outside the women’s body. Both the functions of the vulva and the functions of the vagina need to work in tandem to keep the sexual and menstrual health of a woman.

What are the differences between the vulva and the vagina?

vulva vs vagina

Why is it important to know the differences between the two?

The open discussion about a vulva and a vagina are claimed to be social taboos. It leads to shyness or reluctance to seek help if and when any problem arises in these areas. The ignorance about our private intimate parts can give rise to wrong self-treatments and then worsen the problems. Many women can get confused between vaginal infections and urine infections. Itching of the vulva, swelling of the labial lips, or pain are very common problems that ladies face.

If a woman knows the correct area of her body, then she can communicate better with a medical professional too. Vulva health is an essential part of personal hygiene for women. It is of utmost importance to be well versed and informed about her female organs when she can’t see a gynaecologist physically due to accessibility issues or in the current circumstances of an epidemic.


Our experts work round the clock to provide you with the answers that you are looking for. So, if you have any, leave it in the comment section below or send us a DM at @nuawoman. This is a safe space that we have built for you so do not hold back on any doubts you may have about your body and mind.

Read other articles by Dr. Vaishali Joshi here.

Dr. Vaishali Joshi
21 posts

About author
Our #NuaExpert, Dr. Vaishali Joshi is an Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital and Medical Research Institute, Mumbai.
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