What should I call the vagina?

(113 Posts)
Mrsapea Sun 30-Dec-12 10:55:00

Dear all

I have a 3 year old boy and a 3 week old little girl. My little boy is very helpful and likes to pass me the nappies when changing. As is normal with kids he talks about his little sister and her body; during a nappy change he asked me why she didn't have a willy and what she did have. I told him it was called a "front bottom" but that adults call it a "vagina". Both these explanation sound either silly or too anatomical.

What would you guys recommend I call it?
Many thanks

steppyhen Sun 30-Dec-12 11:37:46

my mum used to call it a minnie!

musttidyupBeforeSantaComes Sun 30-Dec-12 11:45:52

I'm sure that I know how this will turn out - a squabble over using 'cutsie'' names v anatomical ones plus the argument of vagina versus vulva etc.
FWIW I call it a tuppy (from my childhood, boys have a penny ha'penny an girls have a tuppence grin) but I do tell them 'but these are funny names we use -its really called a _'
I know lots of people who use Minnie but I think the whole mouse/car/skirt thing could be confusing....

Tee2072Thing Sun 30-Dec-12 11:48:57

Call it the vagina.

Yes, yes I know that's not technically correct as only part of it is the vagina but, honestly, it's only on MN I have ever heard that to be a problem and I have read millions of messages boards over the last 15 years.

It was a good enough term for my mom to use with me, it's a good enough term now.

lifestuff Sun 30-Dec-12 11:52:52

My little girls has always called it her flower and my little boys calles his a tail not sure how they names came across but it works for my kids lol x

lifestuff Sun 30-Dec-12 11:52:52

My little girls has always called it her flower and my little boys calles his a tail not sure how they names came across but it works for my kids lol x

GreatCongas Sun 30-Dec-12 12:26:19

If you're going to use a proper word like vagina then use vulva

prettybird Sun 30-Dec-12 12:27:57

At primary schools in Glasgow, they are taught the word vulva (matter-of-factly, alongside foot, head, arm, hand and penis)

Tee2072Thing Sun 30-Dec-12 12:35:49

Why use vulva, though, over vagina? Neither is 100% accurate, so why does it matter which you use?

NB: I don't have a daughter so this is just an academic exercise to me. smile

musttidyupBeforeSantaComes Sun 30-Dec-12 12:39:14

Pudendum then?rolls of the tongue doesn't it?

kickassmomma Sun 30-Dec-12 12:39:48

Dds dad and his side of the family call it a 'fruity'... I just say girly bit

noisytoys Sun 30-Dec-12 12:42:15

We just call the whole area bum bum. Front bum + back bum = bum bum

GreatCongas Sun 30-Dec-12 12:50:51

Because vulva is external and vagina is internal. I suspect a small child will be talking about their external bits

My dd calls it her girly bits. It's what she started calling it so we stuck with it for now

prettybird Sun 30-Dec-12 12:53:39

But the vulva is the correct term for what children see, ie the "external sexual organs". Vagina is the internal bit.

badguider Sun 30-Dec-12 12:54:41

Tee - why do you say vulva isn't 100% correct? I am pretty sure it is the external genitals of any female mammal?
Given children are almost always talking about 'what they can see' then i would say vulva is correct?


izzyhasanewchangeling Sun 30-Dec-12 12:56:03

Vagina and willy here.

ChristmasJubilee Sun 30-Dec-12 13:00:06

We say front bottom.

Tee2072Thing Sun 30-Dec-12 13:01:42

Because the area isn't 100% the vulva any more than it is 100% the vagina.

No one said 'well the part you can see is the vulva' did they? Not until just now. And, actually, if you're going by what you can see then MustTidy is the one who is 100% correct.

So, to me, who has always called it the vagina, thinks vagina is what to call it.

Perhaps because vagina seems to be the opposite of a penis, which is what I call my son's penis?

juneybean Sun 30-Dec-12 13:01:49

I say foof but agree vulva is the correct term.

CatchingMockingbirds Sun 30-Dec-12 13:03:08

I've recently had to explain this to my 5yr old son too as we're pg with a little girl, I've went with 'vagina and penis', and he now says 'Gina and P or winkie' (because he kept forgetting the word penis).

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Sun 30-Dec-12 13:06:28

The vulva has many major and minor anatomical structures, including the labia majora, mons pubis, labia minora, clitoris, bulb of vestibule, vulval vestibule, greater and lesser vestibular glands, and the opening of the vagina.

How is this not 100% correct?

Minky here although all the dcs know the correct names.

I don't think it matters really as they'll learn as they grow.

CatchingMockingbirds Sun 30-Dec-12 13:11:40

I've seen the word minky been used before but just on mn, it sounds too much like manky to me. When I was young it was always flower.

musttidyupBeforeSantaComes Sun 30-Dec-12 13:11:48

<polishes 2 badges. One for pudendum and one for correctly predicting thread contents>

redwellybluewelly Sun 30-Dec-12 13:14:08

We call them bits or little bits as that's what her best friend uses and it just seemed ok at the time.

She calls it her weewee which I can live with for now.

I've heard it on MN too but this predates it. Dd is 9 now and I've been on here a year.

We found it very funny when I bought a new ironing board cover that said Minky on it. grin

countrykitten Sun 30-Dec-12 13:18:34

Find it alarming (as ever) that grown women don't seem to understand the difference between their vulva and their vagina so no wonder many little girls grow up a bit confused. If you went to the doctor and said you have vulval pain then that would be very different to vaginal pain so its important that people understand the difference surely?

izzyhasanewchangeling Sun 30-Dec-12 13:22:48

Not at the moment no more than I expect a 2 year old to know different paits of her foot other than foot and toes.

As she grows she will learn and I am surrounding vagina is better than flower or Minnie etc.

CatchingMockingbirds Sun 30-Dec-12 13:24:28

grin @ theone

LittleBairn Sun 30-Dec-12 13:25:38


I was told to call it my 'flower' it makes my skin crawl now. Plus I was at least 21 before I could say the word flower without feeling embarresed.

LittleBairn Sun 30-Dec-12 13:26:30

I do use the word Vulva also but other than medics others seem to be confused about this term.

ArkadyRose Sun 30-Dec-12 13:27:06

With all three girls we use vagina. When they get to about 8-9, I explain about the difference between vulva and vagina.

I've never used colloquialisms when referring to genitals; they irritate me. The parts have names; why be so cutesy about it?

prettybird Sun 30-Dec-12 13:45:40

No-one talked about the "bit you can see" because, for most people, that went without saying. When you are talking to a 3 year old, you are only ever talking about what they can see.

I was taught at school that the vagina was the internal part of the sexual organs and that it led to the uterus. It was also clearly labelled on the cross-section "internal" diagram that came with my tampons. Not something I would be expecting a 3 year old to asking about.

The vulva is the name for the various external fleshy bits - which is what children will be curious about. It also has the advantage of being nice and short and easily remembered by children.

It actually concerns me slightly that some women nowadays seem to be unaware that the vagina is internal and that the vulva is external. I'm glad that at least the children in Glasgow will be clear about the names of their body parts.

Tee2072Thing Sun 30-Dec-12 13:50:28

Just because I think vagina is a perfectly reasonable thing to call the area doesn't mean I don't know that it's internal versus the vulva, which is external.

I just think that at 3 or whatever age we're speaking of it doesn't really matter.

Iggly Sun 30-Dec-12 13:52:33

Why does the vulva/vagina concern you? It's not as if people are being incorrectly diagnosed with a disease of the vagine when it was their vulva and vice versa.

Actually common usage suggests that vagina is perfectly acceptable.

When we say we're doing the hoovering no one would be surprised if it turned out it was actually a Dyson.

It is a generic term and the time for clarity can come at an older age.

GreatCongas Sun 30-Dec-12 14:03:42

Ahh theone. My dh would like you
Dh says Hoover. I refuse to acknowledge it grin

GreatCongas Sun 30-Dec-12 14:05:53

Having said that I try to refuse to acknowledge the vacuum cleaner a lot of the time too grin

grin GreatCongas. It's the pedant in you!

hellymelly Sun 30-Dec-12 14:07:18

My dds know they have a vulva and a vagina, I've explained that the vagina is where babies come out. They call everything their "foofoo" but alos know and use the proper names (ditto willy and penis).

priscilla101 Sun 30-Dec-12 14:11:39

Er, fanjo?

Empross76 Sun 30-Dec-12 14:40:59

Foof in this house!

WildWorld2004 Sun 30-Dec-12 14:51:23

My family use fanny and willy.

I dont like vulva, it sounds too much like vulgar.

You wouldn't call a penis a urethra would you? So why call a Vulcan a vagina?

Ha Vulcan. My prudish predictive text strikes again


ThreeBoostsOneGalaxy Sun 30-Dec-12 15:11:44

grin at Vulcan.
DD calls it her bunny (her choice of word that she came up with herself). She knows that its proper name is vulva. She knows that her vagina exists and she knows in theory where it is, but until she starts to use tampons she won't be dealing with that part.

SurvivalOfTheUnfittest Sun 30-Dec-12 16:05:14

Research quoted by the staff running the Taking Care Project suggests that children who know the anatomical names for private body parts are less likely to become victims of sexual abuse because abusers are aware that such children will be better able to alert an adult to what is happening or has happened. A child who tells an adult at school, for example, that someone touched her 'flower' would not necessarily receive the help they were seeking. As a result, I've taught my dc a common name but also the correct terms too. Sorry if I've turned a light hearted thread into something more serious, but I think it's something all parents should know.

GrownupGoth Sun 30-Dec-12 16:07:31

Gina/Volvo :-S Penis/Willy here. Volvo is highly unintentional and very discouraged. We keep trying for Vulva!

LadyKinbote Sun 30-Dec-12 16:14:41

We use "girl bits" as it's factually correct but also child-friendly. Will explain the correct words when it's time for (proper) sex education.

Writehand Sun 30-Dec-12 16:16:46

Fanny is good, so are flower, lady (or girly) bits, or just bits, and minnie is common. Vulva is technically correct, as we're talking about what's visible rather than internal. I've not had to deal with this, as mine are boys.

Personally I think flower is a bit twee, and it could easily cause a lot of annoying giggling as in "look at those lovely flowers" or "I like that flower print"! I think I'd go for fanny, as it's a word you can use all your life. Frank, but not obscene.

Not sure about front bottom. I wouldn't want a little girl to see her vulva as a sort of equivalent to her anus. People have enough sexual hang ups as it is.

TheElfOnThePanopticon Sun 30-Dec-12 16:43:28

We use vulva, and DD (6) also knows the names for her vagina and clitoris.

Viviennemary Sun 30-Dec-12 16:46:10

I can't see why people would teach their children to say vagina when it isn't even the correct term. What is the point.

Vagina here. Or foof.

The only name I dislike is front bottom. Other than that, call it whatever!

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Sun 30-Dec-12 16:51:08

while vulva is slightly more correct, vagina is the one that rolls off the tongue when you're caught off guard, and kids always ask about these things at very random times, so vagina it is

but I don't think that vagina is inaccurate either, isn't the opening of the urethra more sort of inside the vagina not out on the vulva, and when I get questions about it it's "how do girls wee if they don't have a willy?" so vagina seems more of a better all rounder, IMO if you're gonna say vulva you might as well say labia??? the outside visible bits don't do that much?

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Sun 30-Dec-12 16:51:34

"bits" is the only one I strongly object to, girls having "bits" is just horrible!

NaiceDude Sun 30-Dec-12 16:53:24

why call a Vulcan a vagina?


countrykitten Sun 30-Dec-12 16:53:45

I think that some women genuinely don't know the difference between their vagina and their vulva and so perpetuate this by telling their poor daughters that it's all the vagina. They're just a bit dim I guess.

Loving both vulcan and volvo though....

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Sun 30-Dec-12 16:56:57

but the vagnina is the more... well.. functional part so there's more to say about it!

A child's vagina isn't functional though is it? Yours may be the important bit down there but for a kid it's just what they can see, ie the external part - the vulva

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Sun 30-Dec-12 17:19:48

its the part that you discuss when talking about the functions to children though even though they don't use it for that

MrsSham Sun 30-Dec-12 17:35:56

Well not sure about your girls but my dd tends to have a very thorough examination of the lot, internal and external, so I tend to think its wrong to inference that children are only concerned by what is on the Outside. A little like my nephew at 2 wanting to know what was contained within his nuts and what there functions where.

Loving Vulcan. Might start trialling that chez Starfish to try and get DD out of her current terminology 'pink wally'. As in, her baby brother has a 'wally and tentacles' and she has a 'pink wally' hmm. All her own invention...

DancesWithSnowmenAndElves Sun 30-Dec-12 17:55:44

I used to use fanny, but got some very strange looks from some mummies in real life. now we just call it one's lady bits in my house (I have 3 DDs)

CatchingMockingbirds Sun 30-Dec-12 17:58:47

shock I can see why you got looks Dance, you may as well have went all out and called it a cunt grin

ThreeBoostsOneGalaxy Sun 30-Dec-12 18:00:23

The confusion on here (no, the opening to your urethra is not inside your vagina) shows exactly why it's important to use the correct term for the correct part. I am horrified that some grown women don't know the correct terms for their own genitalia.

One man I met at university thought that the clitoris was situated inside the vagina. Very glad I never became intimate with him!

If you go to the doctor about a vulval problem but tell them it's vaginal problem, don't be shocked when they get the speculum out.

Perhaps I should start referring to my mouth as my oesophagus??

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Sun 30-Dec-12 18:01:30

my mum used to call it a minnie!

Yep, same when I was little - A minnie version of what mummy has otherwise known as a vagina.

Nevercan Sun 30-Dec-12 19:21:19

Called a wee wee here!

BardOfBarking Sun 30-Dec-12 19:40:46

Vulva here - didn't see the point of anything else.

Mrsapea Sun 30-Dec-12 19:46:48

Thanks all! Food for thought.

BikeRunSki Sun 30-Dec-12 19:48:09

Wilma (female for Willy )

StarOfLightMcKings3 Sun 30-Dec-12 19:56:36


Dd told Peppa Pig that she had a vulva. Also people on the bus. I think they 'hear' Volvo.

StarOfLightMcKings3 Sun 30-Dec-12 20:07:59

What does cunt refer to? Vagina or vulva or the lot (or something else).

I saw a clip with Saint IMG and she called it a cunt.

Willy and fanny here, tho dd (2) often insists she has a Willy. catching do you really see fanny as equivalent to cunt? if so, where on the sweary words for boy bits scale do you place Willy?

MrsSham Sun 30-Dec-12 20:16:20

I would say cunt refers to vagina. I would perceive fanny as sweary no where near cunt though maybe on a par with prick or knob.

MrsSham Sun 30-Dec-12 20:16:51

Or cock

CatchingMockingbirds Sun 30-Dec-12 20:54:14

I'd say cunt, prick, knob and fanny are all on par with each other.

Really? I wouldn't want ds wandering round calling his a knob, so perhaps fanny is too strong. Never perceived it as a strong word myself, but perhaps tempered by having a French friend called Fanny as a child. Vulva or pudendum seem technically correct, but not "friendly", in the way willy is a more friendly name than penis, iyswim. Bits, minnie etc seem twee.

DancesWithWoolEnPointe Sun 30-Dec-12 21:17:54

When I was little everyone seemed to call it a fanny - when did it become a rude word?

MrsSham Sun 30-Dec-12 21:20:16

I think maybe it is much more acceptable down south, but I was born in Scotland moved down south and I must say my parents perceived it as rude but many southerners called it fanny and my mum would get all cats bum faced about it. So maybe its a regional thing.

MrsSham Sun 30-Dec-12 21:22:20

My Scottish family use fanny as a name calling insult and I have never heard any southern friends use it that much either as an insult.

SirBoobAlot Sun 30-Dec-12 21:24:28

Hate all the twee cutsie names, so have told DS from when he started asking questions about why I don't have a willy that women have a vulva. Hearing him say that made me wince less.

CatchingMockingbirds Sun 30-Dec-12 21:24:56

I'm Scottish too, it's definitely a swear word here.

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Sun 30-Dec-12 21:26:56

fanny is the polite version where I come from, if you're too bashful to talk about your vagina/vulva you say fanny

DancesWithWoolEnPointe Sun 30-Dec-12 21:27:47

Snigger at cat's bum face! My mum has one of those grin

sleeplessinderbyshire Sun 30-Dec-12 21:33:08

Fanny is v rude where I come from (home counties) and pretty sure it is rude in east midlands too. My DD came up with "wee wee bottom" and "poo poo bottom" and whilst this isn't anatomically ideal I'm happy with it for now (she's 3). She also knows that "babies come out of a special middle bottom a bit like a poo does but a different bottom" courtesy of the midwife visiting me postnatally after having DD2

WildWorld2004 Sun 30-Dec-12 21:45:45

Im scottish too and my family use fanny as a jokey insult. Like if you walk into a door. Because you werent paying attention we would say 'haha you fanny'. I think cow, bitch or cunt are far worse swear words.

wrigglerstea Sun 30-Dec-12 23:38:57

Wriggler has come up with "girly bits" all by herself so I'm happy to go with it. Just like I go with "noisy bumpkin" for farting and "head soap" for shampoo. If I manage to get pregnant with another and am explaining where the baby comes out of I will say vagina and that this is a part of the girly bits that is like a special passage for the baby to get out of my tummy.

Interestingly she clambered into bed with us the other day and managed to kick her dad in the crotch. He was naked (we both sleep naked) and she has seen many times. But when she asked why he was rolling about and gasping and I explained that she had kicked him in the willy which is one of the names for boy bits she stared at it in such as way that I was absolutely certain she had never actually noticed that he had anything other than girly bits before, despite copious wandering about nekkid!

NeverKnowinglyUnderstood Sun 30-Dec-12 23:44:45

girls bits and boys bits here

wash your bits, pits and tits, bum and tum

boys know they have a willy that is also called a penis
they know mummy has girls bits/babyhole also called a vulva/vagina

lolalotta Mon 31-Dec-12 06:50:14

My DD hasn't reached the age where it needs a name yet but I read on a similar thread on MN that one mum called it the "in betweenies", I quite like that, lol, but would make sure they knew the real term too!

lolalotta Mon 31-Dec-12 06:51:35

Am shocked that some are using "fanny"! :-o

SantasNaughtySack Mon 31-Dec-12 07:14:35

Babyhole Never?! That's made me think of a field of them, like rabbit holes!

We're currently having this issue, DD is 2.1 and currently keeps pointing insistently and calling it a 'wassit'.
I hate twee names (flower makes me shudder) but DH can't quite get his head around a 2 year old saying vulva...
Maybe Volvo is the winner grin

lolalotta Mon 31-Dec-12 07:41:45

Lol Santa!!! grin

countrykitten Mon 31-Dec-12 08:39:01

I have never thought of fanny as rude at all - certainly not the same as cunt.

prettybird Mon 31-Dec-12 10:20:57

On a lighter note, Fanny, which as well as being a light hearted Scottish insult (as in, "Don't be a fanny", ie don't be an idiot), was used in this Irn Bru ad, "New baby"

NeverKnowinglyUnderstood Mon 31-Dec-12 10:29:10

yes Santa when DS1 was really little he wanted to know how the baby came out so I used something I heard from a friend, that there is a wee hole, a poo hole and ladies have a baby hole as well.

it just stuck here.

MrsSham Mon 31-Dec-12 10:46:55

I always thought funny was a very anti gay insult, ie being a fanny was the same as calling someone a poof.

ZenNudist Mon 31-Dec-12 10:57:42

Im from north of England where fanny isn't rude but I still don't use it, seems twee somehow.

Only have ds but will prob use hoo hoo, ds has a widgey, sometimes willy or pee pee but will teach him penis when he's older.

My gran used 'howsyourfather' for a vagina!

countrykitten Mon 31-Dec-12 11:34:19

Hoo hoo? Widgey? And you think that fanny is twee....?

PerchanceToDream Mon 31-Dec-12 11:39:27

I'm shocked that people are shocked at the fanny usage! Blimey. When I was growing up it was always willy and fanny. Might I as well have been going around as a 6 year old saying cunt? grin 22mo DD's yet to name her unmentionable nether regions and DP's "hairy axe wound" isn't exactly helpful so I'm watching this thread with interest...

Bits! Not too descriptive or too cutesy/silly. I don't cringe if she runs up in playgroup saying she hurt her bits. I would if she was was yowling "mummy I hurt my VULVA!"

Pretentious gits grin

Me too perchance. My focus has been on trying to persuade 2yo dd that she doesn't have a willy like her brothers. Now that she's starting to accept she has a fanny, I'm quite worried that other parents will think she's using the equivalent of cunt which, to me, is a nasty and very strong swear word.

lolalotta Mon 31-Dec-12 13:57:52

I didn't realise that "fanny" wasn't/ isn't considered crude in some parts of the country! I would be really shocked if I heard a toddler using this term!

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Mon 31-Dec-12 14:24:21

"bits" sound dismissive and almost violent to me
can't describe it properly but it sounds negative and belittling, I cringe whenever I hear anyone teach this to their children, particularly girls!
The other names I like or dislike, but "bits" are the only ones I think are outright wrong. Anyone know what I mean?

DancesWithWoolEnPointe Mon 31-Dec-12 14:31:09

we have lady bits - I find it harmless.

ILoveSaladReallyIDo Mon 31-Dec-12 14:32:39

well it sounds like giblets to me

We all have vaginas and penises in our house. Can't stand twee/silly names.

DancesWithWoolEnPointe Mon 31-Dec-12 14:35:41

Oh and I picked up vajayjay off Grey's anatomy. I quite like it, but think its too adult for my DDs as yet (oldest is 9 and is still very happy with lady bits)

MrsSham Mon 31-Dec-12 14:55:51

Admittedly have been known to say gibs or giblets myself grin

Gingersnap88 Mon 31-Dec-12 17:10:01

I certainly wouldn't use "front bottom", to me that makes it sound dirty / unpleasant. Bottoms are for pooing surely.
We use vulva / vagina and lady/ girl bits (also boy bits) alongside penis, willy and balls.

Although to be fair I was kicked out of nursery for correcting a little boy when he told me that I had a "front bottom".

Gingersnap88 Mon 31-Dec-12 17:11:37

Oh and my DSS used to use "Mary" buy u soon put a stop to that grin

ArkadyRose Mon 31-Dec-12 17:12:34

I can't stand "vajayjay" - when I hear someone use it I get this urge to slap them. Preferably with a full-sized OED.

wrigglerstea Mon 31-Dec-12 20:49:57

As a follow up to my post above about Wriggler noticing her Dad's penis for the first time; today be was getting dressed and she told him that he needed to make sore he put pants on "to cover up his wooly"! So she was listening...

Ffs, bits sounds violent and dismissive?? Wha? I don't know how you reached that conclusion but it's a bit odd. confused

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