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Facts About the Female Body
The uterus is ultra-elastic
When not in use, a healthy uterus is a small organ, measuring about 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) long and 2 inches (5 cm) wide. During pregnancy, that changes — fast. By about 20 weeks into pregnancy, the expanding uterus reaches all the way to the navel. The outer edge of the uterus reaches the lower edge of the rib cage by about 36 weeks.
The pH of the vagina is quite acidic, averaging around 4.5 on the pH scale (7 is neutral). That's about as acidic as beer or tomatoes. Busy microbe communities in the vagina maintain this acidity. For example, lactobacillus, a group of lactic acid-producing bacteria, dominates the ecosystem in many women's vaginas. These beneficial bacteria and their acidic output likely keep nasty bugs from moving in and colonizing the place.
The hymen: overhyped
Long heralded as an indicator of virginity, the hymen is really just a small piece of tissue ringing the vaginal opening. It can break or tear upon first sexual intercourse (or other penetration), or it can stretch; in other words, the presence or absence of a hymen says nothing about whether a woman has had sex.
The G-spot exists - or does it?
The G-spot, an area in the vagina said to be extra-sensitive to erotic stimulation, is a place of great contention. Many women certainly report "G-spot orgasms," studies have shown, but anatomical knowledge of the area remains thin. Most recently, a Florida surgeon named Adam Ostrzenski claimed to have found a rope of erectile tissue in the cadaver of an 83-year-old woman that could be anatomical proof of the G-spot. But other researchers say the structure could be anything, from an internal branch of the clitoris to a misidentified gland. And there's no history of whether the woman experienced vaginal orgasms, so claims about the structure's function are tough to make. For now, the question of whether the G-spot is a myth, an internal extension of the clitoris or its own unique bit of tissue remains a mystery.
Sometimes, things double
In a very rare condition called uterus didelphys, some women are born with not one, but two uteruses. This happens as the reproductive system is forming in the fetus; the uterus starts out as two tubes that join together to form one organ. When the tubes fail to fuse, each turns into its own uterus. Sometimes the vagina is duplicated, too, creating a forked path to each uterus. In many cases, the condition is symptom-free, though unusual menstrual bleeding or fertility troubles can be hints that something isn't right.
Pinpointing pregnancy isn't so simple
You can't be a little bit pregnant … but most women are considered pregnant before they've even conceived. Doctors typically measure pregnancy starting from the first day of the last menstrual period, because most of the time, women aren't sure exactly what day they conceived, but they can remember their last period. It's also not possible to detect the moment of fertilization, and pregnancy can't be confirmed until the developing embryo implants on the uterine wall (that's why at-home pregnancy tests aren't very accurate until at least a week after a missed period).
Period protection has come a long way
Today, women can keep menstrual blood at bay with pads, tampons, menstrual cups or even hormones that shut down the period all together. Women of the past had to be more creative. Here, a short list of pre-pad methods to staunch menstrual blood,
Many cultures have menstruation rituals that declare a woman on her period as "unclean" or require her to avoid certain activities. Women in these cultures feel more shame about their periods, a March 2012 study found, but they also feel a greater sense of bonding with other women over this shared experience. Bringing periods "out of the closest" might help banish some of the mystery surrounding the female reproductive cycle,