(first, heartfelt thanks for replies to my most recent post. I truly appreciate every word and have read some of them over and over again. still intending to reply, but I’ve been a little overwhelmed this week, with kidney infection on the heels of everything else. I will hopefully be seeing a neurologist within a week. yay)

so, a couple of months of health drama and plenty of catheterizations – by two ERs, urologists, and finally myself, now that I am self-cathing – have left me feeling insecure about my anatomy down there. even the people who do this all the time (the urologists) seem a little confused by me. the nurse in one ER actually joked, “you can’t pee because you don’t have a urethra.” at that ER in particular, it took a very long time and a second nurse to finally get a catheter in me. when they did, it was the infant sized one.

I assumed this was because I was swollen or something was wrong, but I’m actually starting to think the opening is just hard for them to find – now that I am self-cathing, I have absolutely zero problem even with a standard-sized catheter, even when I am sick.

I’m kind of uncomfortable posting a picture of myself on the internet, but I have looked through the Everyday Bodies project and not seen anything quite like me. I have: totally normal (as far as I’m concerned; what’s normal, anyway? they look healthy, that’s the point) clitoris/hood/labia. the urethral opening is quite far south of the clitoris and very close to the vagina. the vagina itself is smaller than most pictures I’ve seen, but I am a smaller woman and I don’t have any problems with sex.

the thing is, there is quite a bit of tissue around the vagina. it’s kind of like… how do I describe? oh, this is going to sound so gross, but it’s kind of like hemorrhoids, in the sense of cushy tissue surrounding the opening, except all symmetrical; no area seems much bigger than another. and smaller than hemorrhoids, but (apparently) large enough to obscure the urethral opening, especially if you don’t know exactly where to look.

anyone else have that? since I am married (this is a joke, mostly) I don’t really care about it being normal or pretty, I just want to make sure it isn’t pathological. I can’t remember if it’s always been this way or if it’s a more recent development. I’ve actually made an appointment with my ob-gyn, and I may ask her to take a look for me – you’d be surprised how few doctors have actually examined me down there after all this fuss; mostly it has been nurses, who are quick to assure me that everything is totally normal even after two hours of trying to cath.

eta: I’m 23, never had children.

thanks 🙂

edit: ok, I took a picture. it’s really hard to take a good picture of your vagina! also my camera sucks, but I think you get the idea.


closeup – the urethral opening is the tiny dark spot on the upper right side of the tissue; the vagina is within the center of the tissue; and the dark spot on the bottom is just the folds of skin coming together.

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26 Responses to question about anatomy

  1. Gni007 says:

    That sounds like a hymenal remnant, maybe? They can look like a ring of tissue, or flower petals…

  2. AsuNo says:

    what a pretty description!
    could a hymenal remnant be right around the opening like that?

    • Sab87 says:

      Did your urologist ever explain the reasoning behind the kidney infection? I’ve had multiple uti, kidney infections, kidney stones, and yeast infections. Mine looks very similar to yours. I’m always concerned and never know what to do about it. Could this extra tissue cause a build up of bacteria leading to all these complications?

  3. Gni007 says:

    That’s where the hymen is. 🙂 So yeah, when the hole in the middle enlarges, it can leave a fringe all the way around. Some people who have given birth vaginally still have remnants! They don’t get in the way. The hymenal tissue itself thins and stretches – so having some of it hanging around doesn’t imply any problems with penetration.

    I don’t seem to have any of my hymen left, but I’ve been with women who did. 🙂

    I was trying to find some good pictures for you but got lost staring at vulvas and didn’t find anything clear enough anyway.

  4. AsuNo says:

    Hahaha, aww. Well, now there’s one more for you to stare at!
    I did a search on my own and it seemed like they were a little more, well, fringe-like, than what I have, but now you can look for yourself, which is probably more useful anyway.

  5. Gni007 says:

    Awwww, you’re so compact!

    And yeah, you look normal to me. Just a compact sort of normal. Very tidy. 🙂

  6. AsuNo says:

    People say that about me fairly often, usually not in reference to this, though 😀 (I am 5’2 on a good day but very dense, so anyone who wants to pick me up will get a surprise.) I guess it’s good to be consistent!

    This post is making me smilier than I could have anticipated, thank you 🙂

  7. Nikra says:

    Yours looks very similar to mine to be honest.

  8. Etafornia says:

    with all due respect… you have a pretty cooter. 🙂

    no, its NOT abnormal. but it doesnt look like a textbook drawing of female genitals either, so some people who are unable to see outside the box (eek, totally random pun!) wouldnt be able to see “ok, same anatomy but the decor is slightly differnt. lacier curtains (labia) but the furniture is still the same.”

    you’re still absolutely normal.

  9. AsuNo says:

    lol, thank you so much 🙂

  10. Etafornia says:

    you’re welcome! 😀

  11. Loaora says:

    Mine looks similar to yours too, except my inner labia are longer than my outer labia

  12. AsuNo says:

    edit: I just realized you might have meant “longer” in the vertical, top-to-bottom sense. right? never mind me.

  13. Dri007 says:

    Like everyone has already said, perfectly normal! I’m at the total opposite end of the spectrum myself- large clit, my urethra so close it’s almost hidden under it, very small outer lips and very large inner ones. I suspect where the nurses are a bit flummoxed is they learn on anatomical models, not real people… So anything that doesn’t look like the model can be confusing. Ive been cathed in ER and it’s not fun. My nurse just kinda forced it in and irritated my already inflamed urethra to the point they actually resorted to sedating me to shut me up about the pain because there was no doctor around for several hours to dose pain Meds. :/ they also had the gall to ask me if the students could watch. The strange male students I don’t know when I’m in the er because I can’t pee. Uh no. e-e good luck with getting some answers on your health issues!

  14. 012woa says:

    This really confuses me…I’m going through treatment for bladder cancer right now and have had my fair share of catheters in the past couple months, and from what I understand they always use the “standard” size on me. They ALWAYS give me a lubricating and numbing gel squirted up my urethra via a little syringe before putting the cath in. They don’t do this for you/all the time?! That’s awful 🙁

  15. AsuNo says:

    I know this wasn’t a response to me directly, but fwiw: I have never been given lubrication, numbing gel, or sedative – not at ER, not in urgent clinic, and not while doing urodynamics at the urologist. Is it possible that the cancer puts you at greater risk of pain, etc, and they are trying to help with that…?

    I don’t know what’s standard, although it does feel like they should have done that during the experience above poster had – and for me, the time they ended up needing the infant cath. I was in a fair bit of pain because of their efforts and very scratched up afterwards. Otherwise, I rarely have any pain, but I think my sensation might be kind of dulled there, especially internally.

  16. 012woa says:

    I don’t think the cancer has anything to do with it. I actually just Googled, because I was curious, and it says that although for men it’s the standard because of the length of their urethra, for women since their’s are shorter, it’s always been less common. I guess I just got lucky because omg I would freak out if they didn’t use the gel!

  17. Dri007 says:

    As noted by the commenter below, nope they just cleansed with Betadine and pushed it in. No numbing gel or anything. The urologist didnt use anything when cathing me either- even when he suspected I had interstitial cystitis! Then again he did a full cytoscopy on me with NO pain Meds or sedation which is standard- especially in IC patients! All he did for that was swab me with a q-tip of numbing gel- most of which hit my vagina not my urethral entrance anyways. Believe me, I was in so much pain I was passing out and trying to to throw up. He couldn’t give two shits. I ended up calling my mom in tears at the end of the procedure to please come get me and bring the strongest pain Meds we had in the house. It was a pretty horrific experience. 🙁

  18. 012woa says:

    Holy cow. I’ve only had one cystoscopy so far, but it was the same as when they do the catheters…some sort of local anesthetic gel inserted up the urethra that numbs and lubes the area. While the procedure was certainly uncomfortable, it wasn’t painful at all. The doc warned me that I might have a little pain the first couple of times that I urinated afterwards, and honestly there was nothing.

    I did have bladder surgery done via my urethra as well, and even that, it burned when I urinated for maybe 12 hours afterwards and then I was fine. Maybe I just have a wide urethra lol!

  19. OvoRa says:

    Normal. And, woah, if I didn’t know she would never post any sort of picture of herself online, I’d think you’d posted a picture of my wife’s anatomy. Serious deja vu here.

    Thank you for sharing! My wife has occasionally voiced similar concerns and now I can show her this page and say, “See! I told ya, some look just like yours!”

  20. AsuNo says:

    oh, that’s great to hear! and tell her that other commenters called it a pretty cooter, too!

    funny story: while going through recent health issues, I gave my hubby a lesson on female anatomy and explained the scientific names of everything (although he was already very good at finding the important bits). he’s been great with everything, but I was still afraid that the lesson might turn him off to me temporarily. what happened was very much the opposite… I guess our own feelings of self-consciousness (and medical bleh, in my case) do not extend to our partners, at least for the lucky among us 🙂

  21. Kraeva says:

    Yours looks very similar to both mine and an ex-girlfriend’s, and I happen to think mine looks lovely. I’d never even considered it wasn’t normal. (I grew up in an extremely sex-positive home, and am grateful for that, as I’m sure it plays a role).

    I’m a tall girl with wide hips, so they really come in all shapes, sizes and combos.

  22. AsuNo says:

    female bodies are so much fun, really. I grew up in a very sex-negative household, was abused, etc, but I’m glad I made this post, because it has me feeling better about my anatomy than I ever have before – now I think it’s lovely, too 🙂
    but if it only worked right…. :p

  23. Kraeva says:

    Aww, I’m glad it’s helping you feel better about your body. The world in general is not very sex positive – particularly vagina positive – and it’s not right. Although even guys deal with this in the size department – can’t even count how many I’ve dated who were paranoid about being “big enough” when they were clearly endowed (and not being facetious – genuine FEAR).

    If you ever want to see something incredibly sad but also affirming, there’s a documentary special called The Perfect Vagina from the UK that I watched at the rape crisis centre as part of a discussion and… wow. Free online watch.

    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/perfect-vagina/

    I hope things start working better down there soon. Ouch!

  24. tommy says:

    omg! Is it realy something wrong whit that? Look very nice for me 😉

  25. Kenzie says:

    Have you gone to the doctor? Mine is just like that and I’ve been worried also.

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