What is Vaginal Mapping?
If you have never heard of the term vaginal mapping, then your mind might wander off to a place where maps look like vaginas and vaginas look like maps — dare to dream!
Vaginal mapping is, in the simplest definition, the exploration and familiarizing oneself with their vagina. In doing this, people have the opportunity to discover the inside of their vagina beyond just where they insert a tampon or stimulate their G-spot. It's about learning where the C-spot and A-spot are, how the vaginal walls feel to the touch, and what areas are the coveted erogenous zones.
What's the difference between vaginal, vulva, and yoni mapping?
Similar to vaginal mapping are also vulva mapping and Yoni mapping. With vulva mapping, you explore the external part of the genitalia, like the labia, the clitoris, as well as the vaginal opening.
Yoni mapping takes vaginal mapping and vulva mapping a step further. It's not just about mapping the genitals but involves massages and talk therapy. "The term 'Yoni mapping' is derived from Sanskrit and translates to 'sacred space' or vagina in the context of spiritual and holistic practices," says Laurène Dorléac, CEO and co-founder of Climax, a sexual wellness company that teaches people with vulvas how to explore and own their pleasure through educational series. "Yoni mapping often includes a broader focus on the entire female genital area, combining elements of both vaginal and vulva mapping. It aims to promote self-awareness, self-care, and spiritual connection with feminine energy and sexuality."
It's a mindful way of understanding your genitals, where you hold tension and possible trauma there, and it can be performed by someone who specializes in Yoni therapy or something you can learn to navigate on your own.
Benefits of Vaginal Mapping
One of the biggest benefits of vaginal mapping is getting to know your body. In a society that tends to put penises on pedestals and treats vaginas like they're something to be ashamed of, mapping out this beautiful part of the body that's a source of pleasure, as well as life, is a really important way for people to realize the power in having a vagina and how much it's a part of our daily life, even when we're not thinking about it.
Through vaginal mapping, we can learn not just how our body works, but where certain components are and how they respond to touch. It can be a way to discover if you're doing Kegel exercises correctly to strengthen the pelvic floor or how to combat dyspareunia, which is defined as painful intercourse. Literally, being able to put a finger on where the pain comes from during penetration thanks to vaginal mapping, can help us discover ways to experiment with what won't lead to pain.
RELATED: Finding sex painful? Try using depth limiting rings.
In the case of trauma, vaginal mapping can help identify trigger points where tension is being held. When something traumatic happens to us, we harbor it in different ways, ways we may not have thought possible. So understanding how certain pressures or touch affect your physical and mental response can help you to unpack a lot of things that you may have been ignoring or didn't realize were there.
It can't be stressed enough: if you don't know what you enjoy in regards to pleasure, you can't expect a partner to figure it out for you. Vaginal mapping gives people the opportunity to learn about their body not just on an anatomical level but on a pleasure level too. While clit stim may be the money shot for many people, it's not the only part of the vulva or vagina that can be stimulated, resulting in pleasure.
"Vaginal mapping can help people better understand their sexual desires and preferences, leading to more fulfilling sexual experiences," says Dorléac. "Additionally, knowing the intricacies of one's own vaginal anatomy may be useful for communication with a sexual partner, helping to guide and enhance sexual pleasure."
When we care for our bodies and take the time to intimately know every inch of it, it creates as much self-awareness as it does the desire for further exploration. Naturally, when we explore and experiment, we help destigmatize vaginas and the taboo surrounding not just the word, but its existence. It gives space for confidence and self-esteem to flourish, all while realizing that, as vulva owners, we hit the jackpot.
Vaginal Mapping for Beginners
If you're thinking you want to give vaginal mapping a try, then you have two options: with a trained practitioner who will guide you through it every step of the way or by going rogue — as in doing it by yourself on your own terms, but with a step-by-step guide on vaginal mapping, of course. It's all about what will be most comfortable for you.
With a trained practitioner.
When you make an appointment for a vaginal or vulva mapping session with a qualified practitioner, your genitals will be touched in a compassionate way. It's a safe space where the practitioner can help you explore your vagina and vulva in a way that's not sexual or medicinal. In other words, it's a far cry from a gynecological visit.
A session is focused on normalizing the vagina and learning to respect and love it. A practitioner will make their way around the vagina and vulva while describing what they're doing and touching (with gloves on, of course). You may find that certain parts they touch may feel pleasurable, tense, or triggering. Your response to what you're experiencing, physically and emotionally, can open up a dialogue with your practitioner to get to the root of anything that may have a negative impact on your mental state.
The best way to prepare for vaginal mapping with a practitioner is to know what you're getting yourself into and what you hope to take away from it. While not all sessions are hands-on, many are, so you'll want to be aware that you will be touched, respectfully so, and guided through the process. If the idea of being touched on and in your genitalia makes you squirm a bit, take a deep breath and remind yourself that it's not a gyno exam and it's not sexual, but a lesson in self-love, appreciation, and self-respect.
If you want to try vaginal mapping on your own, then Dorléac has the perfect step-by-step guide to do exactly that.
1. Educate yourself.
Start by learning about the anatomy of the vulva and vagina. This might involve doing online research before you actually delve into your own vagina, especially if you're unsure of the anatomy or the name of each part.
2. Create a safe and comfortable space.
Set up a space in your home where you feel relaxed and at ease. It's so important to feel at peace and comfortable, without any fear of someone walking in on you.
3. Gather the necessary tools.
You may want to have a hand mirror, lubricant, clean towels, and other items that can enhance your comfort and exploration.
The Le Wand Crystal Wand is a perfect tool for this part of your mapping. Not just because of the shape, but it also creates a mindful approach to sexual and vaginal wellness in a way that some other toys just can't.
4. Approach with curiosity and self-compassion.
Mapping is a journey of self-discovery, so approach it with a curious and open mind. Be patient and kind to yourself throughout the process, knowing that there's no right or wrong way to map as long as you're exploring and learning.
5. Start with external exploration.
Begin by gently observing and touching the external genitalia, also known as the vulva. Use a mirror to get a clear view of your labia, clitoris, as well as the opening of the vagina. Because our lives are so busy, we rarely slow down enough to observe and appreciate our vulva, on both an aesthetic and pleasurable level.
6. Gradually explore internal sensations.
If you're comfortable and ready, you can slowly move into exploring internal sensations. If you've yet to find your G-spot, then let this be the time to do that. If you've never felt the inside of your vaginal walls with your fingers, this is also the time to do that. Don't limit yourself, but also honor your personal boundaries. It can take some people a while to warm up to the idea of reaching inside and feeling around — and that's OK.
7. Reflect and integrate.
After your vaginal mapping session, take time to reflect on your experience. Practice self-care, such as taking a warm bath, journaling, or engaging in activities that promote relaxation and self-appreciation.
Evaluating Your Vaginal Mapping Session
Each vaginal mapping session is unique, but here are questions to ask yourself before, during, and after a session.
What are my expectations?
As Dorléac says, it's so important to go into each session, whether it's with a practitioner or alone, with an open mind and without too many expectations. Whether it's your first time or your tenth time, you're going to walk away with a different understanding of your body every time. You just expect to learn something about yourself, if anything.
What emotions (if any) did vaginal mapping bring up?
You may find that your first session didn't bring up any emotions, but that your second and third did. Although the brain is very much connected to the genitalia, it doesn't mean that the connection is always direct. Your state of mind, external forces, even a bad day prior to a session can throw a wrench in what you feel. That's why it's a good idea to journal each experience so you can compare and contrast.
Which part of the vulva felt sensitive to touch? Which points feel less sensitive?
During your session, it's paramount to note how touch affects your vagina and vulva. After your session, it's even more important to journal what you felt, because it's likely to not always be the same. Whether it's our emotional state, where we are in our menstrual cycle, or something else, our sensitivity to touch varies — which is something that vaginal mapping teaches us.
What would I like to improve from my next session?
Only you can decide what you would like to improve. If you weren't comfortable the first time around, then that's something to work on. If the practitioner guided you and asked questions you were unable to answer at the time, then that's another thing you may want to improve. Vaginal mapping sessions are not the same for everyone, because vaginas and the people who have them are not the same. Your experience is unique and sacred. How you choose to navigate your future session is completely up to you — it is your body after all.