Knowing how bodies work is important. It can help us understand:
- how we can take better care of our bodies
- more about other people’s bodies
- how birth control works
- and that our bodies are pretty amazing!
The pictures below are pencil crayon drawings and not pictures of real bodies. We’re all look different, including our genitals. From skin color, to pubic hair, to body size and shape, everyone’s genitals are unique, so whatever you look like “down there” is totally fine.
Bodies with Vaginas (external)
- For all types of bodies the anus is basically the end of the digestive system. It’s where gas and feces (otherwise known as farts and poop) come out. A finger, a penis, a sex toy, or nothing could go in the anus. The most important thing is that it’s always up to the owner of the anus to decide what, if anything, goes in. The anus is connected to the large intestine (see the Bodies with Vaginas Internal diagram below for more details), so if something goes into the anus it needs to have a large base or be attached to something so it can easily come out. The anus doesn’t make a lot of it’s own lube, so often a water-based lube is used if something goes in.
- The vagina is made of muscle and connects the external genitals (vulva and labia) to the cervix. Vaginal fluid and period blood come out of the vagina. If someone chose to carry a pregnancy to term, a baby could come out of there. A tampon, a finger, a sex toy, a penis, certain types of birth control, or nothing could go into the vagina. As always, it’s up to the owner to decide what, if anything, goes into their body. For more information check out Bodies with Vaginas Internal section below.
- The urethra (or “pee hole”) is where, you guessed it, pee comes from. Some people with this body ejaculate, which also comes from the urethral opening. FYI, just like how semen from the penis isn’t pee, vaginal ejaculate isn’t pee either. Pee and ejaculate are different fluids in all types of bodies. Usually not much goes into the urethral opening because it’s really small.
- The clitoris is a nub of flesh that has a lot of nerve endings on it, which means it’s a very sensitive spot. It’s sometimes called the “pleasure centre” on the this type of body and some people touch their clitoris to feel sexual pleasure and/or orgasm. Everyone’s body is different and we all like different things, in other words what feels good for one person may not feel good for another.
- The outside area (the part you can see) of this person’s body is called the vulva. The vulva has two large folds of skin called the labia majora which close to cover the inner areas around the vagina. The inner folds are called the labia minora. They cover the inside area, and can swell and turn darker during sex. Everyone’s vulva and labia are unique. Sometimes the inner labia are longer than the outer labia, sometimes they are smaller, one might be bigger than the other, or both may be the same length.
Bodies with Vaginas (internal)
- The vagina is made muscle and connects the external genitals to the cervix. When someone puts something in, like a tampon for example, the walls of the vagina hold it in place. As you can see from the picture, you can’t really loose anything in the vagina because there is an end to it called the cervix (see below).
- The cervix is at the end of the vagina and is made of cartilage, it kind of feels like the tip of your nose. It has a really small opening that semen and menstrual blood can pass through (unless someone is giving birth, in which case the cervix dilates so that the baby can come out). Because the cervix is closed (except to semen and period blood) it’s not possible to lose a tampon, condom or sex toy in the body. The cervix prevents things like that from going into the uterus.
- The ovaries are two little sacs that contain the eggs. People with this type of body are born with a set amount of eggs. The eggs start being released during puberty as part of someone’s menstrual cycle. The term “ovulation” is when an egg is released from an ovary. Some people ovulate once, twice or even three times a month depending on their body.
- Fallopian Tubes
- The tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus are called fallopian tubes. When an egg is released from one of the ovaries, it moves into that fallopian tube and waits for sperm, usually for about 24 hours. If there is unprotected penis – vagina sex, or if a condom breaks, the sperm can find their way up to the fallopian tubes and fertilize the egg. If an egg is fertilized it will travel to the uterus. Even though the egg only lasts for about a day, sperm can live inside the body for as long as five days. This means that if ovulation happened after the unprotected sex a pregnancy could still happen. If there is no sperm to hook up with the egg, the egg just disintegrates and the menstrual cycle starts over.
- If someone chooses to carry a pregnancy to term the place where the fetus grows is called the uterus. Once someone starts getting their period the lining of the uterus changes throughout the menstrual cycle.; each cycle the uterus is basically preparing itself (by building up the lining) just in case there’s a fertilized egg. A pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus. If there is no fertilized egg or the egg doesn’t attach, the lining of the uterus is shed which is the bleeding that happens during someone’s period.
- The bladder in all types of bodies holds the urine (or pee). Urine comes out of the bladder into the urethra and leaves the body through the urethral opening.
Bodies with Penises
- For all types of bodies the anus is basically the end of the digestive system. It’s where gas and feces (otherwise known as farts and poop) come out. A finger, a penis, a sex toy, or nothing could go in the anus. The most important thing is that it’s always up to the owner of the anus to decide what, if anything, goes in. The anus is connected to the large intestine (see the Bodies with Penises diagram above for more details), so if something goes into the anus it needs to have a large base or be attached to something so it can easily come out. The anus doesn’t make a lot of it’s own lube, so often a water-based lube is used if something goes in.
- The urethra is the opening at the tip of the penis. It’s where pee, ejaculate (cum) and pre-cum come out. Pre-cum and ejaculate contain sperm and can carry any STI/HIV a person may have. In other words they can spread STI’/HIV and can cause a pregnancy. This is why Teen Talk always talks about using a condom on a penis before it goes near anyone’s mouth, anus, or vagina. Even though there’s just one opening at the tip of the penis, it’s not possible to pee and ejaculate at the same time. This is because the bladder closes off when the penis is hard (erect). If someone has to pee while their penis is hard, they might have to wait to soften up a bit first.
- Penis’s come in all sizes, some are circumcised (meaning the foreskin has been cut) some are not. A penis can be either soft (which is most of the time) or hard (when someone has an erection). An erection is when blood rushes to the penis which makes the penis harder. Erections happen for different reasons, sexy thoughts, no reason at all, because it’s first thing in the morning, or because someone is going through puberty. During puberty erections and ejaculations may be happening more often. When a penis gets hard the body makes a small amount of fluid called pre-cum or pre-ejaculate that shows up at the tip of the penis (or just inside). Pre-cum contains sperm and can carry any STI/HIV a person may have. In other words, pre-cum can spread STI’/HIV and can cause a pregnancy. This is why Teen Talk always talks about using a condom on a penis before it goes near anyone’s mouth, anus, or vagina.
- The testicles are held in the scrotum. During puberty the testicles begin to produce sperm. This type of body can produce sperm for the rest of its life.
- The scrotum is a sac of skin that holds the testicles.
- Vas Deferens
- When someone gets an erection (gets hard), the sperm in the testicles move up a tube called the vas deferens.
- Prostate Gland and Seminal Vesicles
- After traveling into the vas deferens, the sperm combine with fluids from the prostate and seminal glands. The fluids give the sperm the nutrients they need for when they leave the body and help to make the semen (the creamy fluid with tons of sperm in it) stick together. When someone is really aroused, the semen will come out of the penis. This is called cumming or ejaculation.
Questions about Anatomy
- What color should your genitals be?
- Genitals (like the vulva, vagina, penis, and bum) come in different colours, and can even be a slightly different colour or shade than other areas of their body. If a person notices that their genitals are irritated and itchy, it’s a good idea to get checked out. Especially if you are sexually active since skin changes can be a sign of an STI. All teen clinics offer free STI testing that is quick and easy and confidential.
- My genitals are itchy. What should I do?
- It depends on how itchy they are. It’s normal for all body parts to get itchy sometimes, especially if they get sweaty or irritated. If your genitals are very itchy all day, you should probably go to a doctor or teen clinic to get checked out. Extreme itching is usually uncomfortable and a doctor should be able to help you out. If you are having sex and you notice genital itching, or any changes in your genitals such as bumps/sores, or a change in the color or smell of your discharge, it could be a sign of an STI. All teen clinics offer free STI testing that is quick and easy and confidential.
How do you know if something’s up with your genitals? Take a good look and see. Might as well get comfortable with all your body parts so you know exactly what’s normal for you. Check yourself out regularly because knowing what you usually look like will make it easier to know if anything changes.
- What does it mean for a guy to have “blue balls”? How do you get rid of them?
- “Blue balls” refers to discomfort some people might feel in their testicles (balls) if they get turned on and don’t have an orgasm (cum). Not everyone gets this feeling and fortunately testicles don’t actually turn blue. If someone feels uncomfortable from blue balls it won’t last long. Some people say the “cure” for blue balls is masturbating and ejaculating. This can be done in the privacy of a bedroom or bathroom. Remember, nagging someone to have sex because you have blue balls is not ok and a form of sexual coercion. A person can take care of their blue balls themselves.
- What is a blue waffle?
- “Blue waffle” was a term for a picture of a vulva with a made up STI. The picture was photo shopped to make it look like some advanced STI that turned the vulva (which was called a “waffle”) blue. It’s not true, there is no “blue waffle”, it was a made up hoax. Doctors checked it out and haven’t found any STI that turns genitals blue. If you are sexually active and have signs of STIs, or want to have STI testing it’s quick and easy at a teen clinic.
- What’s the deal with pubic hair? Should I shave it?
- Pubic hair starts growing on and around the genitals during puberty. It can be straight or curly, everyone has a different amount of pubic hair, and it can be the same or a different colour than the hair on your head. What you do with your pubes is your business. Just like everyone has a different hairstyle, everybody can style their pubes how they want to. Some people choose to trim or shave their pubes and others choose leave it. Shaving on or around the genitals can make the area irritated and itchy when the hair is growing back. Whatever you decide is totally up to you.
If you do choose to shave use your own razor to avoid Hepatitis C which is spread through blood (if you and someone else use the same razor and accidentally get a small cut Hep C can be transmitted). If someone has pubic lice, shaving doesn’t get rid of them (chick here for more info and pubic lice) and can irritate the skin even more.
- What are breasts supposed to look like?
- Just like every person has their own individual look, so do all our body parts, including breasts. Breast tissue develops during puberty. Media like TV, movies, magazines, and pornography show breasts that all look more or less the same (usually big and round). In real life breasts come in all different shapes and sizes. Breasts can be big, small, saggy, perky, floppy, flat, or any other shape. Like the rest of the body, breasts change over time. Everyone nipples look different to. Also just like most of us have one foot that’s a little bit bigger than the other, it’s common for one breast to be bigger than the other, usually it’s hardly noticeable by the end of puberty. Breasts (and nipples) are sensitive to touch and can be especially tender when breasts are growing, or when someone is close to their period, or if they are pregnant. If you are worried about your breasts you can always ask questions at a teen clinic.
- Is it normal to have one testicle that is bigger than the other?
- Yes, it is normal for someone to have one testicle that is bigger than the other, and one that hangs down lower than the other. Just like people’s feet can be slightly different in size, the same goes for the testicles. It’s also possible that someone could have only one testicle. That could be because they had one removed due to testicular cancer, or because one testicle may not have dropped down into the scrotum. If your testicles feel squishy or hurt, you can always ask questions at a teen clinic.
- What is the average penis size?
- Penis size depends on many things like level of sexual arousal, time of day, and room temperature. The average adult erect penis is between 4-6 inches in length. Some people spend a lot of time worrying if their penis (or breasts, bum, vulva/vagina, etc.) are normal. We get a lot of messages from the media about how body parts are “supposed” to look, and a lot of those messages say that all guys are supposed to have a huge penis. In real life, just like everyone has a unique face, every penis will be a bit different. Some people have foreskin at the tip of their penis (uncircumcised), others do not (circumcised). Penises are different widths and they can be smooth or bumpy. If someone notices a change like lumps, irritation, or a rash on their genitals, and they are sexually active, it could be a sign of an STI. If you are worried about your body or think you have an STI you can get checked at a teen clinic.
- What is the stuff that comes out of a vagina? Why?
- There are a couple of fluids that normally come out of the vagina, period blood and vaginal fluid. When bodies with vaginas start getting their period (menstruating) there will be some menstrual fluid/blood that comes out during the “period” phase of every cycle. Every vagina also has some amount of vaginal fluid or discharge, it’s totally normal and actually means the body is being healthy and keeping itself clean. Everyone has a different amount of vaginal fluid and it can be different (creamy or clear) depending where someone is in their menstrual cycle.
Usually the vaginal fluid a body makes is the best way to keep the vagina clean. Some of the products that are sold in stores to “clean” the vagina (douching) can actually get rid of the healthy bacteria and irritate the skin. If your discharge looks or smells different and you are sexually active it might be a sign of an STI. Any of the teen clinics do free STI testing; it’s quick, easy, and confidential.
- Should it hurt when you use tampons?
- If the tampon is the right size and there is no infection or STI in the vagina, using a tampon shouldn’t hurt. The instructions in the tampon package are usually pretty clear, but if it’s your first time using one it can take a little practice getting it into a comfortable position. Being relaxed also helps since the vagina is a tunnel of muscle that can tighten up if someone is tense. Some tampons are bigger than others and you might have to try a few sizes to find one that works for you. Don’t worry about a tampon going “too far up”. It can’t happen, because the cervix at the top of the vagina stops anything big from going past the vagina. (see the Bodies with Vaginas Internal diagram)
If using a tampon does hurt it could mean that there is an infection, or if you are sexually active, an STI. You can ask any questions you have or get an STI test at any teen clinic.
If tampons don’t work for you there are also pads or menstrual cups (like the Diva cup for example). Everyone has their own personal preference.
- What is a hymen?
- The function of the hymen isn’t really known, but almost all bodies with vaginas are born with one. The hymen is a thin membrane of skin that partially covers the vaginal opening. How much of the vagina it covers or how thick it is will be different for everyone. Some hymens cover most of this opening, and some don’t cover very much at all. In very rare instances, the hymen can cover the entire vaginal opening. This can be an issue of it blocks period blood or makes it so that they can’t insert anything into their vagina (assuming they want to of course). A health care provider can do a simple procedure if there is some issue with the hymen.
During puberty the hymen usually becomes more flexible and stretchy and often breaks from exercise, masturbation, using a tampon, having sex, or even riding a bike. Someone might see a bit of blood or feel a bit of pain when the hymen first “breaks”.
- What is “cum”?
- “Cum” can mean the sex fluid that comes out of a penis or vagina when someone is sexually aroused (or horny). “Cum” can also mean when someone has an orgasm (sometimes also called “cumming” or “coming”). Cum the sex fluid is usually white or clear and/or creamy. For bodies with penises, cum is also called ejaculate or semen. For bodies with vaginas, cum is also called vaginal fluid. STI and HIV are spread through sex fluids from all types of bodies. Cum or pre-cum (pre-ejaculate) from a penis also contains sperm which can make someone pregnant if they are having unprotected penis-vagina sex. Using condoms can prevent STI/HIV and also unwanted pregnancy during penis-vagina sex. You can get free condoms, STI/HIV testing, and pregnancy testing at any teen clinic. To learn more about how the different kinds of bodies work, check out the anatomy section.
- Is it possible to masturbate too much?
- Masturbation is when someone touches their genitals in a way that feels good. It can be a healthy part of someone’s sexuality, and there is no risk of pregnancy or STI/HIV. Some people might masturbate a lot, others might choose not to masturbate at all. If you find that masturbating is affecting other areas in your life – you are missing too much class for example because you’re spending a lot of time in the bathroom or if it starts to hurt, then it is a good idea to take a break.
- How much cum should there be during ejaculation?
- The amount of cum (ejaculate) can vary a lot, usually it’s between 1-15 ml (a teaspoon is 5ml). It depends on the person and how long it has been since the last ejaculation. Someone might notice there is more ejaculate at some times and less at other times. If the person has an STI or HIV, it’s in their sex fluids and can be spread through sex without a condom. Even small amounts of ejaculate, pre-ejaculate (or pre-cum), and vaginal fluid can spread STI/HIV. Pre-ejaculate and ejaculate also contain sperm that can make someone pregnant if they are having unprotected penis-vagina sex.
- Is it possible for the vagina to make a noise?
- Sure, it’s totally normal for all kinds of sounds to come from our bodies, even from the vagina. Sometimes if something goes into the vagina (penis, finger, sex toy, tampon) air can also get pushed in. When the air comes out, it might make a sound. Some people might notice it happening when they remove a tampon or with certain sex positions, but it isn’t anything to be worried about. Probably best to ignore it or laugh about it.