Aunt Vadge: I can’t find my vagina!

A pink moonscape with pink trees, and a tunnel entrance going under an earth bridge.

Hi Aunt Vadge,

So basically, I’m 13 and wanted to learn how to use tampons, so I searched it up on YouTube how to use tampons.

They all said the same thing, to find your hole and put it in, but I couldn’t find a hole.

So that’s when I got to researching but couldn’t find anything that related to my problem. The problem is where my vaginal opening is supposed to be (I think), there’s light pink tissue, and I can’t see a hole, so now I have questions.

NO, it’s not an imperforate hymen, because I have my period.

Thanks!
Confused
Age 13, Texas, USA

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Hello Confused,

It’s really normal to be a bit befuddled when you’re trying to figure all this out, especially with tampon use. The vaginal opening can sometimes be a bit tricky to find, especially if you haven’t had much reason to look for it before!

I remember practising inserting tampons, and when I finally worked it out, I was so pleased I immediately proudly went and told my mother. It took forever. I feel you, girl!

The light pink tissue you mentioned could be part of your normal anatomical structure. Since you mentioned you do get your periods, this means that your menstrual flow is able to exit your body, so you indeed have an opening, even if it isn’t immediately apparent.

Good detective work, Confused, you do not appear to have an imperforate hymen. But, it could still be your hymen, just perhaps your hymen with enough of an opening for menstrual blood to exit, but not quite enough to find your way inside.

Check this diagram, and see if you recognise anything. Keep in mind that diagrams are usually not what it looks like in real life, and in this case, the image is wider than it will look to you so we can see the general gist of the hymen differences.

These little holes won’t be anywhere near as obvious and you may not be able to see them at all from your vantage point.

Source: Budinurdjaja, Pribakti & Nizomy, Ihya & Lahdimawan, Inas. (2021)​1​

The lips you can see in the diagram are the parted labia minora, and the pubic hair would be at the top and sides, behind these lips.

Have a look at the Labia Library so you can see what other people’s vulvas look like. You’ll see the inner labia are very different compared to the outer labia, and they vary widely between people, and this diagram is extremely basic.

Locating the vaginal entrance

If you follow the (sometimes very wiggly!) line down from your pubic hair to the very bottom of the line to your perineum (which is the ‘bridge’ that joins your anal area and vagina) with your finger, you can trace the anatomy of your vulva.

If you hit your anus, you’ve gone too far (wash your hand if you do touch your anus!). If you gently push from the perineum upwards, you’re getting warmer. Use a little coconut oil or even olive oil on your finger and vulva, just to smooth the journey.

You need to part your inner labia to access your vaginal entrance. But, if your hymen is still quite intact, even if you part your inner labia, you may find a wall of impenetrable pink.

The vaginal opening can be nestled between the labia minora (the smaller, middle lips that may protrude from the larger, outer lips, the labia majora). It might be less accessible if the hymen is covering part of it or if the labia are a bit closer together.

Look for a space or a dip between them – that’s generally where you’ll find the vaginal opening. It might be smaller than you expect, and if you’re looking for the first time, it might not be immediately obvious.

It doesn’t look like a ‘hole’, because the labia and vaginal canal are more like an empty wet sock than an empty shoe, if you get my drift. You can put a tampon into a wet sock and it will widen accordingly. A wet sock probably isn’t my best analogy for a vagina, but it works for our purposes!

If your hymen is still covering the entrance mostly, you can take steps to gently stretch the hymen. This might be painful, so if it hurts, don’t push it – see your doctor instead.

If you notice in diagrams, the hymen is actually a little inside the labia, so perhaps this is what you’re seeing.

What to do if you still can’t find your vaginal entrance

If you’re still finding it difficult and are comfortable doing so, booking an appointment with a healthcare provider, such as your GP or a gynaecologist would be a good idea. They can help guide you through the anatomy and the correct insertion of a tampon.

Remember, it’s their job to assist with these things, and they’ve answered questions like this many times before, so there’s no need to feel embarrassed.

In the meantime, it might be useful to practice finding the opening without the pressure of trying to insert a tampon. Get to know your own anatomy at your own pace. Once you’re more familiar with where everything is, you might find it easier to try using tampons again.

Take care, and remember, these things can take a little time to get the hang of, and that’s perfectly okay!

Lots of love and good luck with your detective work!
Aunt Vadge

References

  1. 1.
    Budinurdjaja P, Nizomy IR, Lahdimawan ITF. Spontaneous Pregnancy in Postoperative Microperforated Hymen: A Case Report. J Berk Ked. Published online February 28, 2021:79. doi:10.20527/jbk.v17i1.10270


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