The vagina is an important organ of the female reproductive tract. It is an elastic tube. The vagina mediates the connection between the uterus and the vulva or the external environment. In the mucous of the vagina, there are many microorganisms, and one of them is lactobacillus. Lactobacillus keeps a naturally low pH in the vagina, and together with the local immune system it prevents the development of inflammation.
The vagina is a tube whose wall is composed of smooth muscle. Average length of the vagina is 7-8 cm and the width is about 3-5 cm. These are highly variable data whose values differ not only individually, but also in a woman with regard to the specific function of the vagina, the values may change. Normally the vagina is closed and the walls are pressed on each other. During sexual intercourse it is not only able to expand, but also slightly prolong. The largest expansion occurs naturally during childbirth, when the newborn must pass through the vagina and especially its largest diameter, the head. The entrance to the vagina is located in the vaginal vestibule, which is part of the vulva, or external genitalia, under the external urethral orifice. It is covered with labia minora. Before the first sexual intercourse, there is also an extra hymen. The end of the vagina is surrounded by the neck of the uterus and the transition between the vagina and the uterus is separated by the cervix. In front of the front wall of the vagina is located the bladder. Through its rear wall it is adjacent to the anus. This arrangement allows the examination of the vagina through the rectum which can bring a number of important information.
Regarding the function of the vagina, vital is the fact that it mediates the connection between the uterus and the vulva, thus the external environment. During menstruation it removes the menstrual blood from the uterus. A tampon is inserted into the vagina during menstruation to absorb blood. During sexual intercourse the penis is inserted into the vagina. For a smoother insertion lubricating substances are formed in the Bartholin gland, which is located near the entrance of the vagina. During sexual arousal these substances are released. The surrounding of the vaginal entrance is richly innerved, its stimulation leads to sexual excitement, and due to its high sensitivity, it can lead even to orgasm. After ejaculation the vagina serves as a reservoir for sperm that accumulate near the cervix. The vagina allows the passage of sperm into the uterus and then into the fallopian tubes, where a mature egg is fertilized. The vagina is also a part of the birth canal. During natural childbirth the newborn gets through it into the world. Due to the relatively large width of the newborn's head the vagina has to open greatly and it is a great burden for it.
Probably every woman during her life underwent at least one inflammation of the vagina, called colpitis or vaginitis. This inflammation is one of the most common reasons for visiting a gynecologist. Furthermore, in this area cancer can also occur. Fortunately, that is relatively rare. During childbirth a so- called birthing injury can occur. One of its consequences is incontinence after many years, or involuntary loss of urine.
Vaginal inflammation is an overgrowth of certain bacteria in the vagina. Under normal circumstances, their reproduction is in balance thanks to lactobacillus and acidic pH. However, if this balance is disrupted, for example by, hormonal influences, antibiotics, sexual activity or overall disease and weakening of the immune system, this leads to bacteria overgrowth and consequently vaginal inflammation occurs. It is characterized by burning and itching of the genitals, usually whitish smelly discharge, burning or cutting sensation during urination, and pain during sexual intercourse. The treatment of vaginal inflammation involves mainly the administration of antifungal agents in the form of oral tablets or vaginal suppositories, and in many cases it is also necessary to treat the sexual partner.
Cancer of the vagina is extremely rare and mainly affects women over 50. In the vast majority these tumors are spread to the vagina from the urethral opening or external genitalia. Symptoms of vagina cancer include vaginal soreness or pain in the lower abdomen, watery discharge, irregular menstrual bleeding, and difficulty with urination or constipation. Treatment is mainly surgical removal of the tumor from the vagina or more radical removal of not only the entire vagina, but the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. In many cases it is possible to detect vaginal cancer early and treatment is successful, as well as other diseases affecting the female sex, and therefore it is necessary to regularly visit a gynecologist.