The pleasure-boosting reason a sex therapist wants you to take a hand mirror to your vagina


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In a world where we’re getting more and more in touch with ourselves and our sexual identity every day—what with masturbating our way to better skin and better relationships, and going out of our way to learn about female desire—learning more is the name of the game. And in that spirit, I was thrilled when I recently learned a shortcut for boosting my pleasure and deepening my understanding of my body: a compact. Or, really, any kind of mirror. That’s because according to Shannon Chavez, PsyD, licensed sex therapist for Vagisil, being clear on the answer to what does a vagina look like is so important.

“Knowing your sexual anatomy and physiology can improve your sexual responsiveness and interest in sex,” says Dr. Chavez. “You are more likely to communicate with a partner about what feels good if you know your body and where and how you enjoy stimulation.”

Using the mirror is a way to slowly and thoughtfully explore your anatomy (and ensure you never have to ask what does a vagina look like). Furthermore, vulva-owners essentially need a mirror to get a close look and better understanding of what works for them in the bedroom since the equipment is basically indoor plumbing, you know? (External genitals, on the other hand, are easier to see and—ahem—explore without extra accessories).

“You are more likely to communicate with a partner about what feels good if you know your body and where and how you enjoy stimulation.” —sex therapist Shannon Chavez, PsyD

So once that looking glass is in-hand, what’s the next step? “I recommend using your hands and exploring every part,” Dr. Chavez says. “It’s even good to smell your body’s natural fluids. We’ve heard so many negative messages about vaginal smell. Every woman has a unique musk, and exploring your vulva helps to overcome sexual concerns. It helps change the misconceptions that genitals are dirty and private.”

Dr. Chavez says there’s also value to using your mirror during masturbation sessions because keeping an eye to what happens to your body when you’re at a sexual peak is grade-A sex education. “I recommend noticing and paying attention to the changes in arousal,” Dr. Chavez says. “Notice the engorging of genital tissue, variations in the color as tissue fills with blood flow, and increase in lubrication or wetness through the vaginal tissue. The clitoris becomes erect as arousal increases.”

Wait, what? A clitoris erection?

“Yes, your clitoris gets erections,” Dr. Chavez says. “You can watch your body change as you masturbate. It helps engage your sexual responsiveness and helps you stay embodied during self-pleasuring.”

It’s so easy to take yourself out of sexual pleasure, especially when it comes to partnered sessions, since there are so many more variables at play when another person (or people) is in the mix. So learn about who you are, what you enjoy, and maybe spark a little bit of sexual intrigue while you’re at it. To this point, the hand mirror isn’t simply a tool for knowing the answer to what does a vagina look like. Rather, it presents a way for you thoughtfully familiarize yourself with a body…and enjoy it.

For more sex advice, here’s one thing you should do in the morning for a healthier sex life. And this $44 vibrator promises to bring you the most intense orgasms of your life. 

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