You might not find it easy to talk about your "equipment," the stuff that makes you female. But if you hold back on asking questions, you can't get answers.
This guide matches up street slang with correct names and straight facts about your body.
Menstruation Facts and Terms
Formal: Menstruation, of course.
Slang: Time of the month, the crimson tide, on the rag, riding the cotton pony, Aunt Flo (as in "My Aunt Flo is visiting.")
Most common: Your period
Basics: The menstrual cycle is a month-long series of events that prepares your body for pregnancy. If there's no fertilized egg growing in your uterus (womb), it sheds the inner lining. You lose blood for five to seven days.
Periods usually start around age 11 or 12. For most girls and women, they cause only a few days of hassle, maybe mild cramping.
Your choices for absorbing flow have colorful nicknames, too.
Formal: Sanitary pad
Slang: Cotton airplane, mattress, napkins, hammock
Basics: Pads can be made of cotton or other absorbent materials. Sticky tape on one side holds them in your panties to soak up menstrual blood. They can be thin or very thick. "Wings" on the sides help stop the pad from bunching.
Slang: Cork, plug, wick, pen (as in ''My Aunt Flo needs a pen.'')
Basics: Tampons are plugs of cotton or other materials that you slide into your vagina with a cardboard or plastic tube to guide it into place. Once inside, your vagina hugs it so it stays put. You shouldn’t be able to feel it. Sizes range from light to super-absorbent.
Tampons have a string, or wick, that you gently pull to remove them. You should change a tampon every four hours or so to prevent leakage and infection.
PMS and Ovulation
Formal: Premenstrual Syndrome
Slang: Part Monster Syndrome, Pass My Sweatpants, Perpetual Munching Spree
Most common: PMS
Basics: PMS refers to unusual feelings you may have for one to two weeks before your period starts. Your hormones shift during this time. This may cause mood swings, bloating, tender breasts, headaches, or symptoms of depression. Some women have a lot of symptoms, and others don't have much trouble at all.
Slang: Egg chute, egg shoot, egg bowl, or "O" (not Oprah's magazine)
Basics: Your ovary releases a mature egg about two weeks after your period starts. PMS symptoms can start around this time. It's also the most fertile time of the month -- when you're most likely to get pregnant.
The egg travels through the fallopian tube and toward the uterus. If the egg unites with a man's sperm, it can be fertilized, attach to the uterus, and grow into a baby. When the egg is not fertilized, it passes out through the vagina during your period.
Female Anatomy Lesson
Slang: Honey pot, hoo-ha, muffin, vajay-jay, vaj
Basics: Your vagina is a stretchy tube that connects the uterus to the outside world. To make babies, men insert their penis here. For a traditional birth, the baby leaves the body through the vagina, and the vagina shrinks back to its normal size.
What we refer to as "the vagina" has a lot of parts with their own proper names.
Vulva: This word covers all the outside parts of a woman's genitals, including:
- Mons Veneris, or "mountain of Venus:” This is the fleshy area just above the opening to the vagina. Underneath is the pubic bone. It's covered in pubic hair in adult women.
- Labia Minora: These are the inner, small "lips" of the vagina.
- Labia Majora: These are the outer, large lips of the vagina.
- Clitoris: The part of this organ you see is a tiny hooded knob. It's above the spot where you pee, the urethra. When the clitoris is touched, you become sexually aroused. It can swell and become erect, which can lead to an orgasm.
- Urethral opening: This small opening is just above the opening to the vagina. It's where pee leaves your body.
Hymen: This stretchy skin covers the opening of the vagina. In slang, it's called a ''cherry'' that can be ''popped'' or torn when girls lose their virginity. The hymen, however, can also be broken by being active.
Perineum: The space between the vaginal opening and the anus.