There are lots of things we don't talk about - especially around sex, sexual health and our bodies. If we understand what is normal and OK for ourselves we can feel more confident and comfortable and get help when we need it.
The appearance, shape, and size of genitals vary from person to person as much as the shape and size of other body parts. Observing your own body can help you to learn what is normal for you whoever you are and regardless of gender.
People worry about penis size, vulva looks, should we shave our pubic hair and breast size to name but a few, but the reality is we are all different.
It is important that we are comfortable with who we are, how we feel about our bodies and understand our desires and sexual identity.
If you know what is normal for you, then if you find any changes you can seek advice from your GP or sexual health services
Remember that early detection and treatment is the best, so don’t embarrassed to ask.
Just as everyone is a different height and has different hair, there are different shapes and size of penis. The average penis size, once fully formed, which can be any time from about the age of 13 years until 20 years, will be about 9cm when not erect and around 15cms when erect. There are not any average sizes for teenagers as they all grow at different rates
For more information on being satisfied with the size of your penis CLICK HERE
Keep it clean!
The glans is the head of the penis. This is a really sensitive part of the penis because it’s packed with nerve endings. It’s very similar to the glans of the clitoris.
Gently washing your penis once a day with warm water, is sufficient to maintain good hygiene. If you want to use soap, choose a mild or non-perfumed soap to reduce the risk of skin irritation.
Smegma is a natural lubricant that keeps the penis moist. It’s found on the glans and under the foreskin. If smegma builds up in the foreskin, it can start to smell, stop you easily pulling your foreskin back and become a breeding ground for bacteria. This can cause redness and swelling of the head of your penis, called balanitus.
If you have been Circumcised you need to be just as careful about cleaning their penis.
Your foreskin should be able to move forwards and backwards over the glans. If your foreskin is too tight and is causing you any pain or is inflamed go to your GP.
Don’t forget to clean the base of the penis and the testicles, where sweat and hair can combine to produce a strong smell, just as unpleasant as in your armpits. Make sure the area between the base of the testicles and the anus is also clean and odour-free.
Worried about a spot, lump or growth on your penis? There are several reasons you may have spots on your penis and most are harmless. Here are some possible causes.
While you’re down there, it’s a good idea to check your testicles (balls) for lumps once a month after a warm bath or shower. The testicles are the two oval-shaped male sex organs that sit inside the scrotum on either side of the penis.
The testicles are an important part of the reproductive system because they produce sperm and the hormone testosterone, which plays a major role in male sexual development.
Moobs, man boobs aka Gynaecomastia is a common condition that causes boys’ and men’s breasts to swell and become larger than normal. It is most common in teenage boys and older men. For more information click HERE
Your vulva consists of all the external organs you can see outside your body and everyone’s looks different…size, shape and colour. The vulva includes the mons pubis (Latin for “pubic mound”), labia majora (outer lips), labia minora (inner lips), clitoris, and the external openings of the urethra and vagina.
People often confuse the vulva with the vagina. The vagina, also known as the birth canal, is inside your body. Only the opening of the vagina (introitus) can be seen from the outside.
Unless you shave or wax around your vulva, the most obvious feature is the pubic hair, the first wisps of which are one of the early signs of puberty. After menopause, the hair thins out.
It’s normal to have vaginal discharge (mucus or secretions), and the texture and amount of discharge can vary throughout your menstrual cycle .
Check if your vaginal discharge is normal
Vaginal discharge usually isn’t anything to worry about if it:
doesn’t have a strong or unpleasant smell
is clear or white
is thick and sticky
is slippery and wet
There are a lot of products out there claiming to keep your vagina clean and smelling sweet and pressure to buy them but actually the vagina is designed to keep itself clean (clever eh?)with the help of natural secretions (discharge). It’s important not to use any product inside your vagina as this can cause irritation and infection. Find out how to help your vagina keep clean and healthy HERE
See a GP or go to a sexual health clinic if:
your discharge changes colour, smell or texture
you produce more discharge than usual
you feel itchy or sore
you bleed between periods or after sex
The amount of discharge varies. You usually get heavier discharge during pregnancy, if you’re sexually active or if you’re using birth control. It’s often slippery and wet for a few days between your periods (when you ovulate).
Female genital mutilation
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but where there’s no medical reason for this to be done. Find out more about FGM including help and support.
Do you avoid your cervical smear because you are embarrassed, scared or worried about the procedure?
It’s really important that you go for your smear test, as detecting and removing abnormal cervical cells can prevent cervical cancer.
If you would like to arrange a smear test, speak to your GP.
These pages should tell you everything you need to know about cervical screening.
You can also watch this video that explains what you can expect to happen during cervical screening.
There are lots of different types of the human papillomavirus (HPV), some causes genital warts and some cause cervical cancer.
The human papillomavirus (HPV)vaccine’s offered to girls from S1 to S3 in secondary schools. The immunisation helps protect against the 2 types of HPV that cause 75% of the cases of cervical cancer.
Changes in the cells of the cervix are often caused by the (HPV).There are more than 100 different types of HPV. Some types are high risk and some types are low risk. HPV-16 and HPV-18 are considered to be highest risk for cervical cancer.
After successful trials, HPV testing has been incorporated into the NHS Cervical Screening Programme.
If a sample taken during the cervical screening test shows low-grade or borderline cell abnormalities, the sample should automatically be tested for HPV.
If HPV is found in your sample, you should be referred for further investigation and, if necessary, treatment.
If no HPV is found, you’ll carry on being routinely screened as normal. If your sample shows more significant cell changes, you’ll be referred for colposcopy without HPV testing.
In some areas, a test for HPV is the first test on the screening sample. In these cases, the sample is only checked for abnormal cells if HPV is found.
If HPV isn’t found, you’ll be offered a screening test again in 3 to 5 years (depending on your age).
The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer, can be passed on during sexual activity. Genital HPV is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact. Practising safer sex reduces the risk of being infected with HPV but it will not completely remove the risk as HPV lives on the skin around the whole genital area. You can have a chat with one of our sexual health clinicians and they will assess whether you require a smear test or not.
The answer to the question is of course what ever you want, as it’s your pubic hair. What ever you choose to do, it’s important that it’s because you want to. There’s a lot of media pressure to be hairless on everyone, and staying smooth is high maintenance.