Vulva mapping could be the key to unlocking your pleasure
When it comes to your vulva, knowledge is power. But there’s a lot of misinformation about what’s actually going on below the belt and psycho-sexologist Chantelle Otten wants to change that.
“If I was to ask most people what’s going on ‘down there’ for a woman, they would say ‘vagina’,” says Chantelle Otten, psycho-sexologist and resident sexpert at global sexual wellness brand, Lovehoney.
“But unfortunately, these people have not passed the test, and I don’t know how we got to a place where we started naming these things wrong, but the vagina is just one part of the vulva owner’s anatomy and definitely not the whole area.”
Otten is on a mission to correct vulva misinformation, because not only is it key to understanding ourselves better as a whole, but it can improve your sexual experiences.
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“Forget everything that you know about your bits and re-learn,” she says.
“You need to know these areas to be able to know where and how you like to be touched, where to hold your vibrator and where to tell your sexual partner to touch you. You hold the key to your own pleasure.”
First of all, it’s vulva, not vagina. That’s all the external parts, including your clitoris, labias minora and majora (big and little lips), and the vaginal opening all make up what’s correctly referred to as the vulva, so as you can see, there’s a whole wide world to explore.
One way you can do this is with what’s called vulva or vagina mapping, a therapeutic massage or reflexology for that entire genital area.
What is vagina or vulva mapping exactly?
“It’s the process of massaging your vulva and vagina through light strokes internally and externally supplemented by deep breathing, feeling your way through tense areas or areas that may feel painful and releasing the tension,” explains Otten.
Don’t panic, you can easily do this yourself, she says.
“Lie down on your back with your knees bent. your legs open and your eyes closed. Start your breathing slowly and deeply, to begin relaxing all of your muscles, and keep this breathwork going.”
You can take a massage oil, Lovehoney’s Sweet Caress Massage Oil, for example, and begin by massaging your inner thighs and stomach, slowly making your way to your vulva.
Explore it externally for as long as you like, experiment with different movements, strokes, and pressure, and then once you’re ready you can insert a finger into your vagina.
“Make sure it’s well lubricated,” says Otten.
“Place your other hand on top of your stomach to feel what you’re doing. Keep massaging internally and externally, looking for signs of tension or pain.”
You can also try a massage wand or vibrator to kick it up a notch.
The benefits of vulva mapping are as simple as figuring out what we like, but it can also aid in recovering from trauma or anxiety related to this area of your body.
“In some cases, sex can be uncomfortable or painful because of tightening around the vaginal opening and pelvic floor muscles,” says Otten.
“Vulva and vaginal mapping can help relax and loosen these muscles… Ultimately, it can make you feel more at one with your body as exploring every part of your body is important to confidence and self-esteem.”